Opinion

Where is the outrage?

Calls for “rebellion” and “civil war” are an invitation to unspeakable violence

Anti-judicial reform protesters interrupt Knesset member Simcha Rothman during a panel on the Law of Return, Tel Aviv, April 24, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Anti-judicial reform protesters interrupt Knesset member Simcha Rothman during a panel on the Law of Return, Tel Aviv, April 24, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef is chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu and a director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at: dougaltabef@gmail.com.    

We are witnessing a strange and troubling historic inversion. It has become part of the lore of the Israeli left that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was the victim of growing calls for retribution and punishment due to his perceived sin of signing the Oslo Accords, ultimately leading to Rabin’s assassination.

The left holds that the unindicted abettors and provocateurs of this act were, of course, those on the right, especially Benjamin Netanyahu. That political figures were implicitly responsible for the assassination, the left believes, was one of the great unaddressed crimes of Israeli history.

It is not important to debate the merits of these accusations, which have been levelled for decades. What we can all agree on, or at least should agree on, is that the poisoning of the societal well that incentivizes and encourages violence should be universally condemned.

Given this history, it is shocking to read of the threats, the provocations and the calls for rebellion (from Gen. Nehemiah Dagan) and civil war (from Ehud Barak) that are coming from leaders of the opposition to… what? Opposition to the government’s judicial reform proposals does not demand the dismantling of society.

But overthrowing the government might. It seems fair to say that the scope of the protests against the reforms have gone far beyond the scope the reforms themselves. The opposition is fundamentally unwilling to accept the reality that the Israeli public elected a government that would include three religious parties and the largest parliamentary majority seen since an endless cycle of elections began some five years ago.

Such unwillingness has required the opposition to do some Orwellian mind-bending that has concluded the elected representatives of the citizenry are now dictators and an unaccountable and self-appointed oligarchy of 15 justices is a bastion of democracy.

To date, there have been no repercussions for acts of violence and intimidation against ministers and MKs. Nir Barkat has been assaulted four times and countless coalition members have been harassed.

It is hard to tell if the police are afraid to arrest left-wing demonstrators or even feel a kinship with them that prevents the police from rigorously maintaining public order.

But one thing is for certain: The long leash and casual attitude towards the demonstrators is an incentive for them not only to continue their increasingly disruptive tactics, but to push the envelope even further.

Heaven forbid this ends in violence. But it does not require a particularly fertile imagination to envision something truly horrific as the logical outcome of a slide into demonization and denigration tolerated by the authorities.

And what would be the reaction and response to violence? Are the protesters so warped as to think the victims deserved it? Is there somehow a distinction between assassinating a left-wing leader and assassinating a right-wing leader?

What happens if there is retaliation against those increasingly inclined to inflict physical harm on coalition members? Will we see hypocritical condemnations against the gander that attacked the marauding goose?

The right has demonstrated concern for the social fabric that has eluded the “scorch the earth to get what we want” leftist brigades led by the likes of Ehud Barak. This lack of concern for the larger social contract by past leaders of the country is nothing short of shocking.

What the Baraks have shown us is the reason the left has lost its credibility as fiduciaries of the public trust. Their contempt for the will of the people is manifest. Ironically, it is the complete antithesis of the democratic spirit.

Those who truly cherish democracy accede to the people’s choice and work hard to ensure that, come the next election, they can change the public’s mind. But disregarding that majority is exactly what the opposition accuses the government of doing: Sliding into dictatorial behavior reminiscent of totalitarianism.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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