All efforts to find a compromise in the Israeli parliament and to repeal the previous doctrine of “reasonableness” in agreement with the opposition failed at the last minute. The law of reasonableness was passed and Israel exploded. Differing opinions are human and normal as long as they don’t divide the people. But now the people speak of a third destruction of the “temple” in Israel.
The Knesset approved the first part of the ruling coalition’s far-reaching process to overhaul the judicial system. The reasonableness law that was passed limited the Supreme Court’s power to overturn government actions. With this, the right-wing nationalist coalition won an important victory in its attempt to reshape the Israeli and Jewish character. Despite enormous popular criticism, the controversial law passed the second and third readings by a margin of 64 to 0. Now the reservists’ ultimatum to end their service in the army comes into effect. Former generals, chiefs of staff, Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs warned Benjamin Netanyahu of a catastrophe. Even the former head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, a close confidant of Netanyahu, was still waiting for his friend Benjamin the day before yesterday: “The legislation must be stopped, an agreement among the people is urgently needed.” But as head of state, Bibi has full power, himself to decide who to listen to and who not. Proponents, led by Netanyahu, defended the legal changes as a necessary correction to judicial overreaching. But the ultimate responsibility always rests on the shoulders of the shepherd.
Both sides claim to defend Israel’s democracy and both sides berate the other as dictators, fascists and anarchists. I hear and feel my fellow human beings around me and yes, I have close friends who are right-wing and religious, but also left-liberal friends. I don’t choose my friends based on politics. We are friends because we understand, respect, love and enjoy being together. When the law was passed in the Knesset yesterday, Alisa messaged me on WhatsApp and told me she was sad. I tried to calm her down and told her to ignore politics. Alisa is an active opponent of reform and protests against the judicial overhaul every Shabbat in Jerusalem. She is one of the thousands of protesters who have blocked Ben Gurion Airport several times in recent weeks. Alisa is in on it.
— roi kais • روعي كايس • רועי קייס (@kaisos1987) July 24, 2023
Cartoon by Jordanian illustrator @EmadHajjaj in Al-Arabi Al-Jadid newspaper: “Israel is divided. Bibi’s exodus.”
Another friend, Rami, nearly burst with joy. “Bibi, the king of Israel, serves on behalf of God!” Like many others, he sees in Netanyahu the true redeemer of modern Israel, the only one among the people who “can defeat the left-wing legal system.” Recently, I was having coffee with Haim, a building contractor, next to our editorial office. He described to me from his point of view how the energy and the battery of the nation is empty. “We hate each other, we fight and everything we grew up with is gone,” Haim told me sadly. I was his commander over 30 years ago when he was a young soldier. Since then we’ve been close friends. If I sum up everything I hear from people I really love, then we all understand that we are all equally lost. No one wins, including the right-wing Bibi voters, who roar with joy, but understand deep in their souls that their brothers and sisters are suffering in this situation.
Thirty years ago, when the Oslo Accords were being launched by a left-leaning government, Jewish settlers blocked the country’s roads for fear of losing the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. In November 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead in Tel Aviv. Today, the other half of the people are suffering, fearing that Israel’s democracy will disappear from the Holy Land. Two halves of the nation who see Israel differently and take to the streets for different values. The settlers are fighting for the land, the secular Israelis for democracy. Everyone has their vision regarding the Jewish homeland in Zion, and these ideas are clashing like never before.
In addition, a new Basic Law was proposed yesterday. Torah study should be a national obligation! The ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism, a member of Netanyahu’s coalition, tabled a proposal for a new constitutional law that would equate Torah study with national military service. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to comment personally, but his party, the Likud, has said it will not support the bill. Minister for Social Equality Amichai Chikli did respond personally, tweeting: “Torah learning is a supreme value among the Israeli people that has never needed legislation and should remain so. Placing this bill on the table is harmful trolling at an unfortunate time. It is inappropriate to compare this to military service.”
Technically, the coalition is capable of anything and if the Orthodox party insists, they will threaten Bibi with leaving and then his coalition will fall apart. Studying the Bible should be done out of conviction, faith and love for God’s Word. You really can’t equate this with conscription. And if everyone is actually obliged to study the Torah, then everyone will have to do military service.
This is exactly what opponents of reform in the country are afraid of. Now everything can start rolling like a snowball. In order to keep his coalition and his post, the prime minister is in a quandary, and his coalition partners know it. Even within his own party, it is often said that the Likud government is now in the hands of the Orthodox and right-wing nationalist parties. It is up to them to keep or remove Bibi from office. Because everyone thinks they are doing the nation a favor with their vision for the country. The result is that the people of Zion are divided.
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