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The Death of Israel We Knew and Loved

brookings.edu

It shouldn’t surprise us that the Israel we knew and loved—courageous, pioneered, moral, sane, enlightened, democratic, secular, creative; a light if not for all the nations than certainly to the Jewish people the world over—is no longer so. We’ve all participated, one way or the other, in its slow demise. In its transformation from a small country striving for peace and security, yearning to live and prosper in dignity, to a religiously nationalistic, militaristically obsessed occupier and abuser of other people’s lands and lives. From a socialist, enlightened survivor state of the pogroms and the Holocaust to a religiously fanatic, Apartheid-like state.

That the Two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead, declared so here in this blog some ten years ago, is no longer in doubt. You can kiss it goodbye and welcome the coming annexation, de facto or semi-de facto, thanks to the new government forming as we speak in Israel, led by Netanyahu, Ben Gvir and Smotrich (learn these new names, my friends, you’ll hear them plenty soon), who had actively participated in the lighting of the flames that brought about the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin; and with his death, any chance for the Two-state solution—including also the sane, democratic, secular Israel—to survive.

The new Israeli government coming our way is not an aberration. It has been long in the making, fermenting and progressing along with the occupation. Which, aside from the wrongs it has inflicted on the Palestinian people, has corrupted the soul of Israel, the Jewish nation—a willing, active participant in the process, don’t think otherwise—with it. The crisis coming upon us is not just an Israeli crisis; i.e. the triumph of religion over secularism, the triumph of the Talmud and Torah studies over science and art education, the triumph of Jewishness over democratic values; it is also the crisis and chasm between the Israeli state and the Jewish diaspora.

The last government, a unique and brave attempt to prevent all that from happening, and defend the state’s democratic values and the rule of law, had collapsed after only a year and a half in power. Then they lost the elections, and Netanyahu—in a Jerusalem court almost daily on charges of bribery and breach of trust—had won. He and his rightwing extremist political bloc of cohorts (some of them convicted and charged criminals) will facilitate the demise of the rule of law, the courts’ system and the high court, all in order to free him from jail even if the verdict will mandate so. And once the rule of law has collapsed, democracy and civility will follow through. Hence the beginning of the demise of Israel taking shape now in front of our very eyes.

In case you suspect I’m overreacting, here are some snippets from newspapers and news outlets, both in Israel and in America, of the last few days:  

“Four European envoys to the UN pulled out of a visit to the Western Wall led by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan after receiving a directive from Brussels not to participate given that the EU doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem.” Times Of Israel

“Finance Minister-designate Bezalel Smotrich is dragging Israel’s ultra-Orthodox politicians along with him as he outlines his plans for religious coercion in secular areas of life.” Haaretz

“Likud MK Tally Gotliv said Sunday that she was working with members of the expected incoming government to oust Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, claiming Israel’s top prosecutor was “not suitable” for the job.” TOI

“Smotrich did not receive the Defense Ministry but he did get a win. He and his radical bloc members, who have championed once fringe ideas like the annexation of the West Bank, the expulsion of ‘disloyal Arabs,’ and the establishment of new protocols enabling Israeli soldiers to shoot at Palestinian stone throwers, will have unprecedented control over the West Bank at a time of spiraling tensions.” Washington Post.

“Israel is doomed to become a binational state in which most Arabs do not have the right to vote and most Jews are Haredim unable and unwilling to function in modern society. Secular people will flee, violence will explode, and pariah status will only end when the Palestinians take over.” Opinion in TOI

There are plenty more but you get the point. Even if I see things in too darker tones, seeing it this way demonstrates the watershed moment we find ourselves in. Israel is changing, dramatically so, on a course of self-destruction.

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