The JC, Mar. 23, 2023
“This mindset now unites most of the progressive classes in Israel, Britain and America. For them, ordinary people who don’t share their views are the “deplorables”. By contrast the judges — educated, liberal, cosmopolitan — are people like themselves.”
Many appear to believe that the Israelis demonstrating en masse against the government of Benjamin Netanyahu are trying to save Israel’s democracy from destruction. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are legitimate concerns about aspects of the government’s programme and certain members of the coalition, a dangerous and anti-democratic hysteria has taken hold.
This has been incited by people such as opposition leader Yair Lapid, with his battle cry of “bring the government down”. Or the mayor of Tel Aviv, Ron Huldai, who said democracy leads to dictatorship and “countries don’t become democratic again except through bloodshed”.
This crisis is the outcome of a perfect storm.
There’s the extreme loathing of Netanyahu by people for whom his every move is axiomatically corrupt, mendacious and self-serving. There’s the fear of an extremist government, fuelled by anxiety about three nationalist and religious ultras in the coalition along with the religious parties. And there’s the anxiety on the left, whose political marginalisation in the face of the Palestinian Arabs’ murderous intransigence is being cemented by the increase in Orthodox and Mizrahi communities who have no patience for liberal pieties.
The left are now aghast that the judiciary, upon whom they rely to hold the progressive line against those they collectively demonise as “the right”, may lose their power as the left’s political surrogates. Democracy involves the rule of law anchored in the consent of the people, expressed through electing the politicians who make those laws. This is safeguarded by independent judges, police and prosecutors and a free press.
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