The decision to suspend the second and third readings of Israel’s judicial reform bill was not an easy one for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but it was the right decision. Anything that can be done from a position of national responsibility to reach a broad consensus and avoid the deepening rift within the people of Israel was necessary.
Iranian, Palestinian, BDS-related and other anti-Israel social-media sites have released statements in many languages, including Arabic, saying this was the beginning of the end of the Jewish state, and they would now devote all their time to speeding up that process. Some Palestinian groups announced a suspension of their attacks while they watched from the sidelines.
Many of the anti-government demonstrators (not all) were unaware of the true nature of the proposed judicial reforms. Many (not all) were fed misinformation, one-sided anti-Netanyahu rhetoric, and, in some cases, outrageous lies.
Leaders of the demonstrations told news networks that Netanyahu would now remain in power for the rest of his life and that all public areas would observe strict gender separation.
Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli told a Knesset committee that women would no longer be allowed to become MKs and would be forced to wear red when walking in public during their menstrual periods.
Some people were so frightened of these scaremongering tactics that they believed if they did not “stand up for democracy,” Israel would literally become another Iran.
A minority of protesters were even ready to bring the country to self-destruction. International news networks proclaimed that Israel was on the brink of civil war. Among some of the protesters, the mood was one of pure hatred against the elected government and all those who voted for it.
Such a mood was not felt during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and from northern Samaria in 2005. It was not felt when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995. It was not felt when Prime Minister Menachem Begin came to power in 1977, despite those on the left calling him a terrorist and declaring the end of democracy.
The anti-reform demonstrations prevented ordinary people, some of whom voted for left-wing parties, from reaching work, school or the hospital. They shut down main highways, train stations, entrances to hospitals, shopping malls and even Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Nonetheless, it is telling that both sides of the debate proudly waved the Israeli flag in the streets. At times, it was difficult to determine to which side the demonstrators belonged.
As anti-government demonstrators toting Israeli flags left the Knesset through Sakar Park in Jerusalem on Monday, pro-government demonstrators walking through the same park on the way to the Knesset for their rally mingled with them in a huge sea of blue and white.
We are approaching the holiday of Passover, during which we are reminded that “in every generation, they rise up against us to annihilate us.” We must do everything possible not to assist them.
Exactly 3,335 years ago, we all came out of Egypt as one nation and one people. This week, Netanyahu declared that we will not allow the anarchists and extremists to tear us apart.
James J. Marlow is an Israeli affairs and political analyst, previously CEO of the National Jewish Assembly in Britain. Email: JMarlow007@outlook.com.