OP-ED: Disrupting Israeli Democracy

Israelis block a road and clash with police as they protest against the Israeli government's planned judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, March 1, 2023.(photo credit: ERIK MARMOR/FLASH90)

NEW YORK (VINnews) – The following opinion piece is reprinted with permission of Ruthie Blum, a Jerusalem Post reporter.

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Anti-government activists took to the streets across Israel on Wednesday to take part in a preplanned “Day of National Disruption.”

It was an apt name for the endeavor, whose purpose was to impose the will of the minority on the entire populace, most of which didn’t heed organizers’ previous attempts to paralyze the country through a general strike.

Like the other demonstrations held in the name of preventing the duly elected coalition in Jerusalem from becoming a “fascist theocracy,” this one made a mockery of the concept of democracy. And, like the rest of the ongoing protests, it was funded by foreign NGOs and dominated by the privileged classes.

What caused it to be notable was its intensity, with the blocking of main highways and breaking down of police barriers. That these were erected to keep roads clear for commuters who didn’t enjoy the luxury of slacking off – and enable access to emergency-service vehicles – was of little concern to the flag-waving throngs. They were too busy denouncing the state’s leaders and the citizens who voted for them to care.

They’ve been happily highlighting the brutality of the men-in-blue on horseback, however, and showing off bruises sustained by stun grenades and trauma caused by water cannons. Anyone imagining that, as a result, they now grasp how haredi demonstrators feel in the face of even worse treatment is living in an alternate universe.

After all, being against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu means never having to say you’re sorry for hypocrisy or anything else.

SPEAKING OF which, to cap off the day’s judicial-reform-rage festivities, an angry mob gathered outside and barricaded a beauty parlor on Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina Plaza, where Sara Netanyahu was having her hair done.

“The country’s on fire and Sara’s getting a haircut,” some of them shouted. The fact that the slogan rhymes in Hebrew didn’t make it any less inane.

Another chant – “May your ends burn” – was more vicious. It implied her (and her husband’s) complicity in the arson attack on the Palestinian village of Huwara. The revenge riot took place in the wake of the cold-blooded murder of 22-year-old Hallel Yaniv and his 20-year-old brother, Yagel, from the Jewish community of Har Bracha in Samaria. Never mind that Netanyahu condemned the assault and implored Israelis not to take the law into their own hands.

The hair-salon hysterics were undoubtedly among those who gave generously to a crowd-funding initiative, led by Labor Party member Yaya Fink, to aid the residents of Huwara. The campaign, which by Tuesday morning had raised more than $300,000, was launched on Monday when Esti and Shalom Yaniv were burying their two eldest children.

Ahead of the double funeral at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, the distraught parents pleaded for societal unity. Har Bracha Rabbi Eliezer Melamed was equally spiritual.

“We didn’t return to our land to dispossess Arabs of their property, but to add blessings to the world,” he said. “Whoever rises up against us, we will fight them and we will win, all within the confines of the law, through the army and the police.”

In an interview with Channel 14 the following day, Esti stressed that the IDF is the “army of the people, of all of us, and should never be used as a political tool.”

Her emphasis on this point was particularly relevant; and not only because her son, Hallel, had just completed his service in the Israeli Navy, while Yagel had intended to join an elite combat unit.

Another reason was the growing number of former defense officials and retired officers warning that if the government goes ahead with sweeping judicial reforms and other policies they oppose, overall willingness to serve in the IDF will decrease to dangerous levels.

THE MOST recent example was a petition by reservists, published last Friday in the form of an open letter, in this very vein. It reads, in part: “We know that a government needs to govern and lead, and believe that it has the qualifications to do so because it received the public’s trust [at the ballot box]. However, if the Israeli government continues to enact laws that turn Israeli democracy into an empty vessel, it will not only harm the legal system; it will harm Israeli society. Much damage has already been done.”

When asked to expound on the missive, a few of its 250-and-counting signatories told the Hebrew news site Ynet why they were speaking out. Responding anonymously helped them loosen their venomous tongues.

“We won’t be the useful idiot who allows the fanatics to destroy what was built over the past 75 years,” said Major (res.) A.

“We’ll probably have to wave the red flag of non-participation in the reserves,” assessed Lt. Col. A.

“The [social] contract has been broken; we don’t have the luxury to remain silent,” stated Major (res) R. “If the laws are passed, we won’t volunteer for a dictatorship.” Peculiarly, he claimed, “There’s nothing political about it.”

Without referring specifically to these disgruntled soldiers, the newly bereaved mother recounted that though her entire family had been expelled from Gush Katif as part of Israel’s 2005 disengagement from Gaza, none of them ever considered shunning the IDF.

“We, too, could have said, ‘Why should I give anything to the country after what it did to me?’” she cried. “But the country is us. We’re the country; you’re the country. We’re the army; you’re the army. It simply can’t be used as a political tool.”

She went on: “We’re asked what message we have to convey. First of all, the personal loss is horrible. But our people are brothers. We lost two brothers. And we had the privilege of burying them on Mount Herzl, among the graves of the righteous. Everyone there gave their lives for our country. Again, we’re all brothers. My children were [literally] brothers… Our army is a [figurative] band of brothers.”

Which brings us to Elan Ganeles. The 27-year-old dual American-Israeli citizen from Connecticut was shot to death in his car by Palestinian terrorists on Monday afternoon, likely around the time that the Yanivs began sitting shiva for their boys.

Ganeles moved to Israel in 2014, where he served as a “lone soldier” in the IDF. He returned to the United States to study at Columbia University, obtaining a degree in sustainable development and neuroscience in 2022. He had come back for a short visit, to attend a friend’s wedding. Because of his desire to make Israel his permanent home, his devastated mother, father and siblings – who flew in for the funeral – laid him to rest in the Old Ra’anana Cemetery, rather than bring his body back to the US.

His burial took place on Wednesday in the presence of hundreds of mourners, the bulk of them strangers. They chose to grieve the death of a young Zionist – gunned down for being a Jew – not bemoan the imaginary demise of Israeli democracy by disrupting it.



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Uneducated Arch
Uneducated Arch
1 year ago

Well stated.