With the sixth Benjamin Netanyahu coalition brewing a concoction of political abuse, constitutional recklessness and Zionist bankruptcy, Middle Israelis are forced to go where they have never gone: revolt.
The gathering barbarian invasion will climax with assaults on the rule of law and the Zionist ideal, but the storming of its first victim – governance – has already begun, with the extraction of three departments from the Education Ministry in order to place each of them in another politician’s bosom.
It’s the natural continuation of Netanyahu’s appointment two years ago of a minister for higher education and water. That humiliated minister, chess master Ze’ev Elkin, has since joined Netanyahu’s enemies, but Netanyahu has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. That’s how he now decided to rotate the Treasury between two people, with each getting some two years at the country’s fiscal wheel.
Never mind that the two bring inverted economic views – one is a die-hard capitalist, the other believes in tax and spend. Proper budgetary management demands stability. Rotation means uncertainty, a repetition of Netanyahu’s fiscal damage when he failed to pass a budget for three consecutive years.
This is obviously no way to run a railroad. But, he apparently tells himself, who cares? The more officeholders around me will be temporary, the more I will be permanent.
Still, this scorn for proper management dwarfs compared with the appointees’ identities. As things are unfolding, we are to have a convicted inciter in charge of our cops, a convicted tax evader in charge of the Tax Authority, and a convicted bribe-taker in charge of the national coffers.
What this part of the coalition offers in the realm of crime, another part offers in the realm of reaction, as a declared homophobe and anti-feminist who heads a one-man Knesset faction is handed responsibility for our children’s educational programs.
This is besides handing homeland security to a pyromaniac who over the years made a habit of emerging wherever Arab-Jewish tensions flared, ready to fan and exploit yet more animosity and hate.
ALL THIS is, of course, besides the usual protection fee the ultra-Orthodox parties will charge and collect, only this time their demands are soaring to once unthinkable peaks, as they know Netanyahu depends on them for his political survival.
Double the monthly wages
Middle Israelis can thus expect to double the monthly wages they already pay some 150,000 non-working and non-serving yeshiva students, from NIS 380 to NIS 730 for unmarried students, and from NIS 680 to NIS 1,314 for married students.
This is besides Netanyahu’s campaign promise to fully budget ultra-Orthodox schools whether or not they teach a minimal secular curriculum of history, English and math. As warned here before the election, this concession will constitute a major defeat for Zionism, whose quest to mold a New Jew – enlightened, productive and self-reliant – ultra-Orthodox rabbis opposed from Theodor Herzl’s days to ours.
Ah, the clerics and chauvinists to Netanyahu’s Right also want, for good measure, to change the Law of Return so that thousands of Jews’ offspring will not get Israeli citizenship because someone up their lineage is not fully Jewish according to ultra-Orthodox writ.
In other words, Netanyahu expects Middle Israelis to accept their money’s theft, their children’s re-education, their government’s deformation and their Zionism’s demise.
Netanyahu is out to make these harrowing concessions in turn for his ultra-Orthodox and ultra-nationalist allies’ backing of his and his party’s plan for constitutional reform. Action on that front will be even more brazen, destructive and swift than the rest of this political assault.
First, even before the government is presented, the new coalition will pass a special law that will allow it to make Arye Deri a minister despite his conviction last year of tax evasion, and despite his plea-bargain promise to retire from politics.
Then, with the law already disfigured and a convicted tax evader and bribe-taker on board as the viceroy, the government will storm the Supreme Court.
Its first reform will allow High Court rulings’ annulment by a simple 61 lawmakers’ majority. Then it will make the law demand an 80% majority within the court to cancel a law as unconstitutional. Then they will flood the court with political appointees and make politicians appoint its president. Then, free from the court’s rebuke, they will make ultra-Orthodox draft-dodging part of Israeli law.
In short, we are in for a barbarian invasion, a multi-pronged assault on governance, justice, the rule of law and the Zionist ideal. The question, therefore, is where all this leads, and the answer is revolt.
INTOXICATED BY his electoral victory, Netanyahu thinks he can abuse Middle Israelis with impunity. Well he can’t.
No, we did not win power, but power is not what this is about. You won it and you have it. This is about what Herzl dreamt, David Ben-Gurion built, and you are out to wreck.
There comes a moment in which the people can no longer take government’s abuse, even in police states, as China and Iran are learning these days. And we are not a police state. We are the Jewish state, the democracy that we Middle Israelis and our parents built with our bare hands while giving its defense our best years and our loved ones’ very lives.
We, not your collection of clerical felons and fascistic zealots, are the Start-Up Nation of which you are so proud. We are the ones who fight its wars; we are the ones who produce its wealth; we are the ones who raise its inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs, scholars and literati; we are the ones who prevented its destruction from without, and will now prevent its destruction from within.
The writer, a Hartman Institute fellow, is the author of the bestselling Mitzad Ha’ivelet Ha’yehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sefarim, 2019), a revisionist history of the Jewish people’s political leadership.