Opinion

Netanyahu Has a Militia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a news conference after he was entrusted with forming the next government, at the President's residence in Jerusalem, Israel, April 17, 2019.
AFP

If Benjamin Netanyahu were really fighting for the integrity of the elections, he has an endless supply of tools in his governmental arsenal, including the Shin Bet, the police, the courts, the prosecution and just about everything else. But all these are worthless, and rightly so, because his goal isn’t clean elections, but total war against Israel’s Arab community and the rule of law.

Therefore, the very man who is responsible for the rule of law is circumventing all the state’s institutions and employing his private militia, over which there is no governmental oversight, and whose only bylaws are the whims and desires of the person who set it up – Netanyahu.

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For now, Netanyahu’s militia is armed only with cameras, but the best is yet to come. Its sister militias in the occupied territories are armed with guns and impose a reign of terror on the Palestinians, their orchards and their flocks, even assaulting them personally. And the army, which is the symbol of the state there, either helps the lawbreakers or turns a blind eye, and for the most part obeys their orders. (Just look at what’s happening in Hebron.)

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A government that needs “enthusiastic citizens” to carry out its policies is a government that has announced upfront that its goals are illegitimate. If they were legitimate, the tools at the government’s disposal would suffice.

Even worse, a government of private militias is marching down the road toward dismantling the rule of law and replacing it with anarchy, and this road won’t stop at Arab towns. When it comes to the integrity of the elections, Netanyahu’s militias will yet guarantee it in Ramat Aviv and all the other places where the right-wing parties are a minority. You’ve been warned.

Instead of issuing a sweeping order against this subversive operation, the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Justice Hanan Melcer, made do with voicing some stuttering reservations. It was later reported that the justice plans to order a probe of certain incidents based on material captured by the militia’s cameras. Thus instead of their behavior shaking the pillars of the justice system, Justice Melcer is rewarding the dismantling of the rule of law.

On the flip side, given the robust voting rates in the settlements – according to the website of the settlers’ Yesha Council, voting rates there were six percentage points higher than the national average in 2015 – I can imagine some Arab taking himself to some polling station in a settlement as an election observer on behalf of the Hadash-Ta’al or United Arab List-Balad slate, even without hidden cameras. I want to continue this nightmare scenario with what would almost certainly happen both inside the polling station and outside it. For the poor observer, a happy ending would certainly be in the hospital.

Moreover, the ultra-Orthodox are the right’s ultimate reserve, and only if the so-called center-left bloc can already form a coalition will they join it. Nevertheless, this bloc never utters a peep about what happens in ultra-Orthodox towns during the elections. Did a single observer from the center-left parties, even without a camera, bother to visit one ultra-Orthodox polling station to monitor the integrity of the elections, or one polling station in the settlements?

When the blind poet and philosopher Abu Al-Ala Al-Ma’arri fell ill, he was advised to eat chicken. When the ascetic poet felt the miserable chicken that was placed before him he said sadly, “They recommended you because of your weakness. Why didn’t they recommend a lion cub?” Yes, in the Jewish state, everyone is a hero only when facing the Arabs.

Despite the sorry state of affairs caused by the anti-democratic mood here, I expected warning lights to be flashing at full strength in light of this grave act. But aside from the true left, nobody denounced it. I didn’t hear even a word of criticism for a prime minister who set himself frontally against an entire segment of the state’s citizens.

Nevertheless, if anybody is lucky enough to read the chronicles of the state at some future date, he is likely to read that the camera operation was the harbinger of Israel’s descent into a period of darkness – darkness for all of us, irrespective of religion, race or gender.