Tachles: A modern Hebrew word of Yiddish origin that means “to the point.”
It depends who you ask. At present, opponents of the controversial judicial reform are being condemned as anarchists by an increasing number of people. On Wednesday the prime minister’s wife was besieged inside a Tel Aviv hair salon as thousands of anti-government protesters gathered outside. The police were called to keep the protesters away and Sara Netanyahu had to wait hours for her rescue. The incident came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement to the nation comparing the protesters who clashed with police in Tel Aviv to the settlers who rioted in the Palestinian village of Hawara earlier in the week. This is anarchy.
“I fully support the Minister of National Security, the Police Commissioner and the police officers. The right to demonstrate does not give the right to anarchy,” Netanyahu stressed. “We will not accept violence against police officers, blocked roads and flagrant violations of state laws. The police must take action against lawbreakers who disturb the everyday life of the citizens of Israel.” National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stressed several times this week the need to act decisively to clear highways and roads blocked by the anarchists.
The same Ben-Gvir had said in a Knesset committee some 18 months earlier that roadblocks aren’t pleasant, but they aren’t that bad either. Closing roads is a legitimate means of protest. “Listen, we’re in a democracy. In a democracy you block a road,” Ben-Gvir explained when it suited him. At the time, he was in the opposition, supporting protests by Orthodox Jews and religious settlers who were blocking streets in Jerusalem. None of these Jews were condemned by Ben-Gvir as anarchists. Those on the other side of the political divide saw these religious demonstrators on the streets of Jerusalem as anarchists, just as Ben-Gvir now sees those who block roads in disagreement over his policies as anarchists.
Last week a father and his son, both majors in the IDF reserves, resigned their ranks. Shai and Yoni Kahana explained on Israel Radio: “We have served in the military in an active capacity for more than 12 years, and spent more than 35 years in the reserves. We have participated in all of Israel’s wars from the 1967 Six Day War to the present, serving in emergency and routine operations.” They went on to say that they had sworn allegiance to the State of Israel, a democratic state, but now the State of Israel is changing. “A black flag is being raised over Israel and therefore our oath is void and we are resigning our rank. It is unbelievable that we are now the so-called anarchists.”
In Israel we call those families who have defended the homeland for years “salt of the earth,” and they are now being denounced as anarchists because they see the judicial reforms as a danger to Israel’s democracy?
“Anarchists Against the Fence” is the name of a group of left-wing extremists who demonstrate every Friday together with the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria against the protective fence and Israel’s policies. This group of people often clashes with Israeli soldiers.
But the actions of the radical settler youth are also regarded as anarchistic behavior. They, too, often take on Israeli soldiers when it comes to illegal outposts, among other things. In this case, of course, it is the left-wing siblings who call these settler youth anarchists. These youth may number as few as hundreds and are often labeled as uneducated or radical even by their own religious community.
Every group of people probably has its anarchists, but they are often only regarded as such by those who disagree with them. But are these people all really anarchists? Only because political opponents interpret them as such? This reminds me of a question someone asked via WhatsApp yesterday. Why don’t we in Israel condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal? Israel is also being accused of war crimes, does that make Israel guilty? Wasn’t US President George W. Bush also denounced as a war criminal in the Middle East?
These days we have a king in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. A majority of the people voted for him and his allies. And I don’t think everyone does what is right in their eyes, as the Bible describes it in the Book of Judges. This verse is the biblical description of anarchy. Israel is still a long way from that. But we need to be careful. We have a “king,” even if he is not loved by all of the people. Either the government compromises, or the government succeeds in convincing opponents that the judicial reform is not a coup. That is in the power of the king. Popular discontent is never good for a king. The responsibility is in his hands and in the hands of our people’s representatives in the Knesset.
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