Israeli Democracy Is Struggling To Survive: One simple question must be answered in order to comprehend the current situation in Israel: what checks the government’s authority? A complex system of checks and balances is essential to strong democracies. But aside from the Supreme Court, Israel lacks a constitution, an upper house in the parliament, a federal system, or any other form of check on executive authority. The Netanyahu administration intends to introduce the first of several bills that will discredit the Supreme Court on Monday. If it is successful, it will acquire limitless power.
Members of the Netanyahu coalition have already made it clear that they intend to adopt legislation and implement policies that discriminate against women, Arabs, lesbians, people of colour, and those who identify as LGBTQ. Nothing will be left to stop them after the Supreme Court is out of the way. Future elections could potentially be rigged in such a scenario, perhaps by forbidding participation by Arab parties, as was previously suggested by coalition members. Israel will continue to hold elections, but they will change from being free democratic contests to becoming authoritarian rituals.
Members of the government publicly boast about their ambitions. They claim that because they won the most recent elections in Israel, they now have complete power. The Israeli government, like other authoritarian entities, has no concept of what democracy is. It believes that democracy is a tyranny of the majority and that those who win those elections receive unrestricted power. I’ve spoken with numerous Netanyahu backers recently, and many honestly think that any limitations on an elected government are undemocratic. They ask, “What do you mean we can’t take away people’s fundamental liberties?” The elections were won, nevertheless! That means we are free to do whatever we like. In actuality, democracy entails everyone’s freedom and equality. Democracy is a kind of government that grants everyone certain liberties that even the majority cannot restrict.
There would be serious repercussions if Israel became a dictatorship, and not just for the people who live there. Messianic religious zealots who espouse Jewish supremacy are in charge of the ruling coalition. This calls for Israel to acquire the occupied Palestinian territory without providing the Palestinians citizenship and, in the end, envisions demolishing the al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of Islam’s holiest sites, and replacing it with a new Jewish temple.
Jewish dominance is a widely held belief. The Jewish Power party and the Religious Zionism party are its representatives in the coalition. Bezalel Smotrich, the latter’s finance minister, reportedly called for the eradication of an entire Palestinian community as punishment for the murder of two Jewish settlers.
With nuclear and cutting-edge cyber weapons at their disposal, men like Smotrich now oversee one of the most formidable military apparatuses in the world. The world has been warned about the risks posed by a fundamentalist dictatorship with nuclear capabilities by the prime leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been fighting to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for decades. Just such a dictatorship is being established in Israel right now by Netanyahu. This could ignite the entire Middle East, with ramifications felt far beyond the confines of the area. Israel would be extremely foolish to act in such a manner, but as we have seen from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we should never undervalue human folly. It ranks among the most potent forces in human history.
The good news is that a potent resistance movement has formed recently to keep Israeli democracy alive. Thousands of Israelis are participating in demonstrations, protests, and other nonviolent forms of resistance, rejecting the idea of Jewish superiority and reaffirming traditional Jewish tolerance traditions. Since last Friday, over 10,000 army reservists, including hundreds of air force pilots, cyber warfare specialists, and commanders of elite units, have publicly said that they will not serve in a dictatorship and that, as a result, they will cease their duty if the judiciary reforms proceed. The renowned Israeli air force, which relies heavily on reservists, could be partially grounded by this Tuesday.
It should be remembered that for many Israelis, serving in the military is a sacred obligation in order to understand the significance of this move. The army has never been brought up in political disputes in a nation that sprang from the ashes of the Holocaust and has long confronted existential dangers. The situation has changed. Former commanders of Israel’s armed forces, air force, and security agencies have publicly urged personnel to resign from their positions. Veterans of Israel’s several wars claim that this is their life’s most significant conflict. The Netanyahu administration attempts to portray this as a military takeover, but it is in fact the complete opposite. Instead of picking up weapons to fight the government, Israeli soldiers are putting them down.
Universities, trade unions, high-tech firms, and other private businesses have threatened additional strikes in response to the government’s continued antidemocratic power grab due to the perception that the social compact has been broken. Israelis are aware of the possible harm to their nation. Investors from all over the world are removing their capital as the so-called Start-Up Nation is disintegrating. Even more harm has been done on the inside. As the social contract is shattered, fear and anger now rule interactions between many facets of society. Members of the government label the protesters and reserve soldiers as “traitors” and demand that force be used to stifle the dissent. Israelis are concerned that civil war could break out at any moment.
But thousands of us who are protesting on the streets believe we have no other option. Preventing the emergence of a Jewish supremacist government is our obligation to mankind, Jewish tradition, and to ourselves. We are protesting in the streets because there is nothing else we can do to preserve Israeli democracy.
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