Opinion |

Israel Has Reached Another Impasse. The Experiment Will Go on Failing

חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, on Wednesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli

Congratulations, Israel has reached an impasse. Once again. And the current one is the most justified impasse it has yet reached.

It’s high time to realize that the political dead-end will continue to be part of our lives for many years. In fact, its origin doesn’t lie in the Knesset at all, but in the deepest essence of the State of Israel – a Jewish state. This self-definition a priori restricts the composition of governing coalitions to either a right-wing government, an even more right-wing government or a Jewish unity government.

In other words, if the essence isn’t democratic, it’s only a matter of time until democracy itself collapses. The impasse is the result of this collapse.

Think for a minute. What’s the official reason for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision to dissolve the government? The fear that he wouldn’t be able to extend the regulations that apply Israeli law to West Bank settlers – which are apartheid regulations.

In other words, the government has collapsed because it isn’t able to guarantee the continuation of apartheid. Bennett was willing to sacrifice himself and his future as long as apartheid continues as usual. What’s important is that when the election takes place, they’ll all talk about a “celebration of democracy.”

Thus the depth of the impasse is equal to the depth of Israel’s moral collapse, and they feed off each other. A government can’t call itself things like “a government of change” or “a government of healing” when it sets aside the deepest and most painful wound of all and declares up front that it won’t touch it.

This gridlock will be resolvable only when enough Israeli Jews understand that there are only two options – a Jewish state that isn’t democratic, or a true Jewish-Arab partnership. And by partnership, I don’t mean one based on political extortion in exchange for economic extortion. Israel’s Arab citizens shouldn’t have to give up the rights they deserve in exchange for money or investments in infrastructure.

An Arab citizen isn’t supposed to be a hostage or a subject begging for what ought to be self-evident. He should feel that his rights are upheld regardless of the political situation. True partnership has to rest on a basis of equality. Full equality at every level – civic, economic, cultural and also national.

What “national” means is obvious. Until Israeli Jews understand that occupation and apartheid are their country’s most deeply rooted self-definitions, and that therefore any change or cure must address them, everything will remain stuck.

The players may change – the parties, the Knesset members, the ministers and the prime ministers – but this is mere foam on the ocean. What has to change is the underlying structure, the infrastructure on which Israel is built – an undemocratic infrastructure based on Jewish supremacy, discrimination against all other citizens and continued occupation.

It’s no accident that the right is getting stronger. It’s no accident that MKs Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich are getting stronger. It’s no accident that an absolute majority of the Knesset is right wing. It’s happening precisely because this understanding is gradually sinking in. The strengthening of the radical right is a reaction to that understanding.

It’s a survival reflex. The more Israeli Jews began to grasp the depth of the moral rot, the more they vote for people who don’t care about morality – people who are motivated only by the same old Jewish supremacy, but this time in a version with no shame and no restraints. And they’re right. Why play at being democratic when you aren’t?

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