We are just two days away from an Israel Supreme Court hearing on a recently-passed amendment to Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Law that restricted the court’s ability to do precisely what it’s preparing to do: judge the government’s actions not on legal merits, but rather on the nebulous notion of “reasonableness.”
The government has warned the court to not take the unprecedented step of overriding a parliamentary amendment to the Basic Law. But already Israel’s defense establishment has signaled that if it comes to a showdown between the judicial and the legislative, the Police, IDF and Mossad are taking the side of the court.
The stage is set for national division of biblical proportions, literally. Scripture records a number of times in which drastic internal division brought Israel low and eventually lead to her destruction.
And as in ancient times, this division is being fueled not primarily by those in power, but by those taking to the streets and engaging in violence, both verbal and physical, against their ideological opponents.
Having and debating our differences is one thing. But there is certain rhetoric that once used is difficult to step back from.
At the weekly anti-government demonstration in Tel Aviv yesterday, protest leader Shikma Bressler labeled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministers as “Nazis,” adding that “it is forbidden to hold a dialogue with Nazis, whether they are Jews or not.”
Others acknowledged what has already been clear for months: That the demonstrations are less about judicial reform and more about who’s carrying it out. “This is a government that is acting to crush the democratic infrastructure of the country, and so every act of this government is suspicious,” declared former Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin, signaling that there would be no compromise and that the only acceptable outcome is the downfall of the current Netanyahu government.
Even if the Netanyahu government were to suddenly decide to halt all judicial reform, the protests wouldn’t end. Because in their eyes the opposition aren’t protesting just judicial reform, they are protesting “Nazism.”
In our modern vernacular, the word “Nazi” is used to identify a person, policy or movement that is utterly irredeemable, with which there can be no compromise or cooperation. The only thing to do with Nazis is to fight them. We all know that.
Nor is the use of this term in this context accidental. Bressler and others know exactly that they are saying.
Israel has entered a cycle of division from which there seems to be, by human reasoning, no escape in the near future. The right-wing voting bloc remains a firm majority in the country, and so it’s difficult to see anyone but Netanyahu emerging as a viable prime ministerial candidate (the previous government was not headed by Netanyahu, but it struggled to hang on for even one full year). And the left-wing bloc has made clear that it will not acquiesce to being governed by a “dictator” like Bibi.
So what’s left besides incessant demonstrations?
Netanyahu meanwhile responded that using rhetoric like that of Bressler only serves to cheapen the memory of the Holocaust and what the real Nazis did to the Jewish people. But don’t expect his argument to hold much sway, or get much media attention.
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