During the recent demonstration by the army reservists when Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) and MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) were still conducting constructive negotiations into drafting the ultra-Orthodox I saw a humorous placard. By the time I located my mobile telephone to take a picture, the young man and the placard had gone. “Let every Hebrew mother know,” it said, “that they don’t give a fuck about us.”
It is hard to argue with that sentiment, which twists the famous David Ben-Gurion quote, even though it is so bluntly phrased. When leaders quote Ben-Gurion and dream about Winston Churchill, promise to make historic changes and to take historic decisions, and yearn for a place in the history books, how much energy do they have to draw up a political agenda and to conduct economic and social policies about the equality in bearing the military burden?
They don’t give a fig. That is the simple truth. The largest government in the history of the state, backed up by a giant coalition, is busy with itself and not us. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with no opposition in the coalition and also none, in effect, in the Knesset, can allow himself to ignore the distress of the reservists and the students and the young couples and the middle class. Everyone and everything.
And, let’s not forget, no protest movement has ever overthrown a government in this country. It was the Agranat Commission and not the reservists (who protested after the Yom Kippur War) that sent then Prime Minister Golda Meir home. Yitzhak Rabin resigned from the premiership. Menachem Begin succumbed to his own suffering. The Kahan Commission removed then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon temporarily from office (after the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacre in Lebanon), and Ehud Olmert does not belong in the same scenario.
Netanyahu is aware that he will not become the first prime minister to be sent home by a protest movement. So why should he not prefer the partnership with his natural allies? And why should he go against his better nature and, instead of speaking about history, make it? And why should he give a damn about us?
But nevertheless, political analysts have recently been claiming that the Netanyahu regime is not an edict of fate. Netanyahu is likely to decide our fate. This summer, there is a chance that war will break out. Perhaps the most difficult of all Israel’s wars. Israel may attack Iran. But please remain silent. The public opposition to such a move headed by former Mossad head Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin, and other senior officers in the reserves was accompanied by a number of articles (in this newspaper). But Knesset members and ministers past and present, experts on everything who always have something to say, have now put the subject under wraps.
A democracy that is conducted without public discourse, and in effect also without an opposition, is a sick democracy. A democracy which conducts itself in silence, on the eve of fateful decisions, is a very sick democracy. And there is no better symptom of its disease than the silence of those who head it. And there is another possibility too perhaps they also couldn’t care less about us. Despair is not made easier when one looks around to find who will bend down to pick up the pieces.
Should we wait for Ehud Olmert? A leader is needed now, today, this moment. Good morning to you, Shaul Mofaz. Hi there, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid. And how are you doing, Shelly Yacimovich?
Larry Abramson’s exhibition “1967” was recently on show at Tel Aviv’s Gordon Gallery. Abramson’s father had a sense of history. In May 1967, he began collecting the issues of Haaretz during the days leading up to the Six-Day War, and continued to do so during the war and its aftermath. Some 40 years later, he passed the newspapers of that period on to his son, who painted on them. “This was a picture painted on a piece of history,” he said. “On a piece of time.” I looked at the headlines, the photographs and the obituaries and I asked Abramson whether he had begun to collect the issues of summer 2012. I’m not sure he fully understood me. Perhaps now.