The rhetoric surrounding judicial reforms has gone overboard - opinion

The dual narrative has no winners.

 MK BENNY Gantz speaks during a democracy conference at Reichman University in Herzliya, earlier this month.  (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
MK BENNY Gantz speaks during a democracy conference at Reichman University in Herzliya, earlier this month.
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

It’s often difficult to stomach but I challenge those who care about Israel’s existence as the one and only Jewish state to see what some of the anti-Israel haters have to say on Twitter.

The rhetoric emanating from the Islamists on one side, who call for Israel’s destruction with chants of “from the river to the sea,” or who praise intifada and the white nationalists on the other, who use antisemitic tropes, including accusing Diaspora Jewry of having dual loyalty, is astounding.

The most despicable tweets coming from both camps are those that promote Holocaust denial or equate Israel, especially under the new government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Nazi Germany. It’s amazing how much hatred and lies can fit into 280 characters.

However, perhaps even more disturbing are some of the quotes I saw this week, spewed by some Israelis themselves nonetheless, under the guise of opposing the judicial reforms proposed by Justice Minister Yariv Levin.

Hate speech increases

The hate speech started during last Saturday night’s rally in Tel Aviv, with estimates indicating that anywhere between 80,000 and 100,000 protesters were in attendance.

 Thousands of Israelis demonstrate for democracy and against the new government’s judicial reform plan, in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square on January 7. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS) Thousands of Israelis demonstrate for democracy and against the new government’s judicial reform plan, in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square on January 7. (credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Our very own former defense minister, Benny Gantz, who was in attendance at the event, got the party started when he was quoted as telling the crowd, “We will continue to act against this regime’s coup.” Gantz, who was not an official speaker, was seen addressing the crowd with a bullhorn.

The Oxford Languages dictionary says that the term “regime” refers to “a government, especially an authoritarian one,” while “coup” is defined as “a sudden, violent and unlawful seizure of power from a government.”

In other words, in Gantz’s mind, Israel is currently some sort of third-world country, whose leaders have suddenly and violently risen to power. Of course, he didn’t mention that millions of voters decided to cast their ballots for the Likud and other right-leaning parties in a democratic election, this past November.

The rally also provided a platform for attorney Eliad Shraga, chairman of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, who called demonstrators “sons of light,” implying that the government was an agent of darkness.

That wording took my mind to the Star Wars franchise, where the demonstrators, of course, were played by the Jedi knights, trained to save the universe from the darkness brought about by the Emperor and Darth Vader, and the evil Empire was represented, of course, by the Netanyahu government.

Possibly the most disturbing and despicable quote of the evening came from the prime minister’s cousin, Dan Netanyahu (perhaps envious of his more well-known relative?), who according to The Jerusalem Post said “many in Israel and the world” saw a resemblance between the proposed reforms and the “enabling act” by Nazi Germany, which enabled them to overcome any legal barriers to their plan.

Likening any Israeli government – Right, Left or Center – to the Nazis is abhorrent and far beyond the pale of acceptable criticism. Such rhetoric minimizes the suffering, torture and murder of the six million Jews who perished under Nazi rule and those who survived the Nazi atrocities. I’m surprised his remarks were not vociferously condemned by all camps.

And finally, while the Nazi comparison was beyond despicable, second place perhaps goes to former attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein, who on Tuesday dubbed the planned judicial reforms as a pogrom.

Similar to (Dan) Netanyahu’s comments, such remarks are extremist and minimize the suffering of the Russian and European Jews under the various and murderous pogroms carried out in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a legal expert but I do have my own personal opinions on the judicial proposals. But my opinions are irrelevant in this context. The Jerusalem Post has given voice to those who adamantly support the proposals, those who oppose them and some who have mixed feelings, and are calling on both sides to compromise.

What is important at this juncture is the rhetoric. And based on what’s been coming out of the mouths of the “anti” camp folks, it’s nothing short of appalling. If I wanted that kind of vengeful terminology, I would log back onto Twitter. But I expect more from my fellow countrymen, who seem to be sour grapes over an election loss and are taking it way too far.

The writer hosts the Israel Uncensored podcast weekly on The Land of Israel Network.