The judicial reform that Israel’s new administration is advancing has stirred turmoil throughout Israeli society. From every sector and faction of society, people are condemning the reform or rooting for it. Those condemning it warn that the reform will obliterate Israel’s democracy and place it at the mercy of politicians. Conversely, those who praise it say that it will restore the balance to Israeli democracy, which has been disrupted when Israel’s supreme court took excessive rights into its hands, such as the power to revoke laws or appoint new judges.
Recently, the protests against the proposed reforms have become so heated that prominent figures in the Israeli society, such as incumbent mayors, decorated retired generals, opposition leaders, and former prime ministers have begun to tout the possibility of a civil war, with some even explicitly calling, on social media and in public speeches, for the murder, no less, of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Yariv Levin, and the entire cabinet, in order to restore democracy.
Since the inception of our nation, we have been known as obstinate people. We are extremely opinionated, and we think that only our view has merit. Worse yet, at certain points in our history, we took this view to the extreme and not only believed that anyone who disagreed with us did not deserve to live, we also acted on that belief and went on vicious civil wars. Now, it seems, we are heading there again.
Democracy is not good for such people. Democracy is for those who believe that general policy decisions are made at the polls. If more people prefer one policy to another, the parties that support that more popular policy will win the election. It does not make them entitled to abuse the minority, but it does make them entitled, and even obligated to implement the policy for which they were elected.
If I think that my country is democratic only when the view I support is in power, then I am not a democrat; I am a tyrant in disguise. It hurts me when I see what is happening in Israel today. While the rest of the world is learning and progressing, we are stuck in power struggles that will unquestionably bring the country to its knees and ruin the State of Israel.
Perhaps, considering our bloody past, when we killed each other in civil wars, it would be better if the people were dispersed and the nation disbanded. I have no idea what the Creator has planned for us, but if the choice is between dissolution and civil war, I prefer the former.
That said, there is a third alternative. Our people always have been and always will be obstinate, arrogant, and opinionated. If we are disbanded now and reassemble later, we will still have to face each other and disagree just as we do today. We are like that because our ancestors were like that, and precisely because they were like that, they realized that their only chance of success was to step on their own egos and form a union precisely with their dissenters. In those days, it was either unity or death. Now we are approaching that dramatic point once more.
In the past, when our ancestors chose unity, we not only became a nation; we also became a model for the world, a proof that no matter how much we cannot stand each other, if we rise above our hatred and unite, the bond we will form will overcome anything, and the power of such a nation will be insurmountable.
At the moment, I do not see that people are in any mood for conversation, much less unity. All I see is bellicosity. But as long as we are still not fighting, there is hope that we will come to our senses before we drown the ship that we are on.
Members of Israeli border police stand by as Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new right-wing coalition and its proposed judicial reforms to reduce powers of the Supreme Court in Tel Aviv, Israel January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun