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Netanyahu’s government has two tracks: disregarding any settlement prospects with Palestinians, and severing ties with Israeli secularism and democracy.
“An Alliance of Hoodlums” was the angry title of an article by Israeli writer Yossi Verter, commenting on Benjamin Netanyahu‘s new extremist government.
The new Israeli government has members from the Likud, the ultra-nationalist right and extremist religious parties. Netanyahu’s government has two tracks: disregarding any settlement prospects with Palestinians, and severing ties with Israeli secularism and democracy.
The muddled identity of Israel as a democratic state for all its citizens on the one hand and its discrimination between Jews and Palestinians on the other clashes with its categorisation as either a theocratic or a secular state.
In his article, Verter argues: “the ideological, social, legal, economic and regime revolution that the agreements of the government coalition harbinger will change Israel forever. This is the alliance of hoodlums – the ultra-Orthodox bulimia, the Smotriches’ messianic greed.”
Avraham Burg, a Labor Party leader and former Knesset speaker, attributes the formation of the government to the contradictions that have arisen in Israel since its creation.
In an article published on Haaretz on 15 December 2022, Burg wrote, “Three cold wars are taking place in Israel: the conflict between Jewish independence and the Palestinian Nakba; the structural tension between rabbinic supremacy and citizens democracy; and the war between entrenched conservatism and open liberalism.” He added, “There is racial superiority; corrupt occupation; Judaism that does not know how to process the supremacy of the Jews and the principle of ‘God’s chosen people,’ which contradicts the principle of democracy.”
In the coalition agreement, the ruling coalition outlined that “the Jewish people have the exclusive right over all of the Land of Israel.” The document also stressed that the government would move to support and develop settlements “throughout the Land of Israel; in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan, Judea and Samaria.” This means that settlements will affect the West Bank.
Israeli journalist Alon Ben-David warns against this serious development: “For more than 55 years, Israel has managed to maintain an anomaly that is almost a miracle: conquering another nation and keeping it under military rule, establishing a settlement of about half a million Israelis on the territory, and all this without Israel being expelled from the family of nations and labelled as a pariah state.”
The coalition agreement also stated that “the government will ensure the capacity to govern and restore the proper balance between the legislative, executive and judicial power.” This is an attempt to limit the judicial power represented by the Supreme Court in favour of the legislative and executive branches, especially since this court is accused of secularism.
Addressing this issue, Yossi Hadar said, “Israel is disintegrating. It is no longer just about the well-known tensions between right and left, religious and secular, centre and periphery. This time it is about real autonomy, the absence of governance and an unimaginable loss of sovereignty. Since its establishment, Israel has been subjected to constant threats from the outside, but it seems that this time the most serious threat, the existential threat, is from within.”
The key observation here is that extremism and hatred are counterproductive. Undoubtedly, the vanishing margin of democracy and liberalism in Israeli society will affect it internally.
Following the changes in Israel, analyst Zvi Bar’el wrote an article about the difficulty of convincing the world that Zionism is not a form of racism. Criticising a long list of extremists forming the new Israeli government, Bar’el wrote, “The candidate for national security minister is Itamar Ben-Gvir, a student of Meir Kahane.
Candidate minister Orit Strook argues that a doctor can refrain from providing treatment if it opposes his faith as long as other doctors are available. Bezalel Smotrich, Ben Gvir’s ideological friend, fears that his wife “might be in a hospital next to an Arab woman.” Smotrich told the Arabs, “You are here by mistake because Ben-Gurion did not finish the work in 1948 and did not dispose of you.” Avi Maoz, a homophobe, believes that “the biggest contribution of women in the state is to marry and start a family.”
In Bar’el’s previously mentioned article, he states that
“These racists will not only assume influential offices in Netanyahu’s government, but they will also be the face of the state. They will shape future generations through the educational system and the budgets they control. These are the fathers of neo-Zionism and racism, who consider the values of democracy to be historically wrong and do not fit the true Jewish state. They use anti-Semitic claims and race theory to envision a pure, Jewish, Zionist and racist state, explicitly and legally.”
All these statements about Israel as a theocratic racist are made by those who consider themselves Zionists and Jews and live in Israel. They are not statements made by Arabs. Their descriptions have been corroborated by international reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Commission for Human Rights and even B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of our writers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.