Now that the dust has settled and we have had time to catch our breath, it’s time to take a moment and internalize what happened in Israel these past few weeks.
Israel and its citizens have been put through the wringer. In the span of about 10 days, hundreds of terrorist rockets rained down on innocent men, women and children; Blue and White leader Benny Gantz failed to form a governing coalition, likely signaling a third election in under a year; and Israel’s long-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. That is a lot to take in.
While many in Israel are in agreement when it comes to our right to defend ourselves against a murderous barrage of rocket fire, the latter two events have racked up tension in Israel to a level not seen for quite some time, possibly in its entire 71-year history.
Many countries would dissolve into chaos and disarray if dealt the same cards Israel has in 2019. The United States, for all its well-deserved democratic admiration, is being torn at the seams ever since U.S. President Donald Trump’s election in 2016, and even more so over the impeachment procedure against him. As much as the impeachment has polarized Americans, it would be far worse if Trump was indicted on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. (Remember, the severity of the two options is different.) An impeachment removes a leader from office; a conviction lands a leader in prison.
Likewise, how many countries could survive having its governing institutions paralyzed for a full year, like Israel has? Countries like Belgium, Spain and Germany have experienced protracted periods without a formal government, but few countries, if any, have had their sitting leader indicted during such severe political turmoil.
Countless analyses of these events have been offered in the days following Netanyahu’s indictment and Gantz’s failure, the majority of which lament Israel seemingly losing its grip on democracy. And there is some truth to that, to the extent that it’s a terrible thing for a country’s sitting premier to be accused of immoral and crooked behavior, just like it’s a terrible thing for a society to put their faith in leaders to govern them, only to have those leaders fail time and time again. Indeed, this is one way to look at Israel’s current political climate. But there is another way.
In an increasingly illiberal world full of corruption and violence, Israeli democracy shines bright.
Some countries go years, even decades, without holding an election. Some of Israel’s staunchest adversaries are among this group. But not us. We keep trying until we get it right. Israel’s failure to form a government is not a symbol of the weakness of its democracy, but its strength.
Similarly, many countries have let democratically elected leaders turn thriving democracies into authoritarian nightmares. But not us. We will get to the bottom of whether or not our leader has betrayed us, and take action accordingly.
Sure, Israel has its fair share of problems, but what we have accomplished in the few years since we established our perfectly imperfect little country is astonishing.
We may be a country in crisis, but we are not a people in crisis. And if what we have achieved so far is any indication, our best days are yet to come.
Eitan Fischberger is an activist and veteran of the Israeli Air Force. Follow him on Twitter @EFischberger.
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