By MOSHE FEIGLIN
In the 1990s, as a result of my attempts to halt the Oslo collapse, I was put on trial for "sedition." I asked the judges to allow me to read a short piece from a book that I had brought with me. The judges agreed, and to their surprise, I removed The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery from my briefcase:
"Sire, over what do you rule?"
"Over everything," said the king, with magnificent simplicity.
"Over everything?" The king made a gesture, which took in his planet, the other planets and all the stars.
"Over all that?" asked the little prince.
"Over all that," the king answered.
For his rule was not only absolute: it was also universal.
"And the stars obey you?"
"Certainly they do," the king said. "They obey instantly. I do not permit insubordination." "I should like to see a sunset... Do me that kindness... Order the sun to set..."
"If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?" the king demanded. "The general, or myself?"
"You," said the little prince firmly.
"Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform," the king went on. "Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable."
IT IS a mistake to think that the state works within the boundaries of laws. The public does not obey laws. It obeys rules within the boundaries of a triangle, the first side of which is the law. But the triangle has two other sides: common sense and ethics.
What if the Knesset passed a law requiring drivers to drive in reverse all winter? That would counter the logic side of the triangle. The public's subsequent refusal would be the fault of the government, not of the public.
In other words, the fact that we obey the law is not because of the law itself, but because it is logical enough to warrant our adherence.
The third side of the triangle is ethics. If the government ordered us to drive our elderly and infirm out onto the frozen tundra, as per Eskimo custom, we might agree that it would logically enhance the economy. But nobody would obey, because it would be patently immoral. The party at fault for the insubordination would be the government that enacted the law and not the citizens who refused to obey.
How are the boundaries of this triangle determined?
A government has unlimited power to enact and enforce laws. The government, with its Knesset majority, can enact a law that would postpone elections for 50 years. Why doesn't it do so?
For only one reason: Because it knows that the public would not accept it and the government would subsequently lose its credibility. In other words, just like Exupery's king, the government enacts laws within the boundaries that it assumes the public will accept, both logically and ethically.
Power always strives for more power and the government will always attempt to test the boundaries of common sense and ethicality. But fortunately, it is not the government that determines these boundaries, but the public. How does the public accomplish this? By using its right and sometimes its duty to refuse to obey the law. That is how the logical and ethical platform for the healthy functioning of society is created.
To increase its power, the government tries to convince us that insubordination will cause the state to collapse. But that is completely false.
The greatest crimes in human history were perpetrated when citizens ignored their duty to delineate logical and ethical boundaries for the rule of law. The societies in which this took place by and large collapsed.
"Good men must not obey the laws too well," said Ralph Waldo Emerson. He understood what the disengaging Israeli tyranny no longer wants to hear.
Those soldiers who obeyed the expulsion law in Gush Katif despite the fact that they knew that it was illogical and unethical, brought the Hamas missiles to Beersheba, the resulting Operation Cast Lead, Goldstone and the international anti-Israel demonization campaign that is gaining momentum by the day. In short, our eager-to-obey soldier has endangered Israel's very existence.
The writing on the wall of Binyamin Netanyahu's office is clear: destruction of the Golan Heights, of the settlements in Judea and Samaria and the division of Jerusalem. Public delineation of clear, logical and ethical boundaries for the law can prevent Netanyahu from carrying out his plan.
In the past few weeks, soldiers from two separate units in the IDF expressed their civic responsibility by refusing to obey orders to expel Jews from their homes. These brave young men are positioned to save Israel from collapse.
The writer is the head of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the Likud and a candidate for chairman of the party. He advocates Jewish values-based leadership for Israel predicated on Israel's Jewish identity. He has authored two books: Where there are no Men and The War of Dreams.
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