Purim is almost here, but it feels more like the hours before the Ninth of Av; joy barely registers, while dread looms everywhere; the roots of the crisis are as old as Hatikvah
I think saying that the sugary drink tax was aimed at Haredim is the same false equivalency that banning menthol cigarettes (I don't know if this was passed or only proposed, here (somewhere in the US) is racist (apparently more blacks smoke menthol...). It was a public health measure, and has been proven (in Philadelphia, & I believe in other places as well) to result in decreased consumption. Of course, the companies producing those drinks care as much about public health as tobacco companies...
In my opinion, what we are seeing is the tension between Jewish and democratic coming to the surface. It is the struggle in Israel between group (Jewish) and individual (human, political, civil) rights.
By definition liberalism is a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise.
Whereas Jewish democracy promotes Jewish group rights over and above individual rights. And therein lies the rub.
Hence the need by the religious and the right wing in Israel to rein in the superior court who have a philosophy of protection of individual rights at the expense of group/religious rights. And of liberalism which is at odds with Jewish democracy.
Jewish democracy is, by definition, not liberal, it is, if you like, illiberal. And we can specifically say this in connection with a few important issues—say, three great issues. Liberal democracy is in favor of multiculturalism, while Jewish democracy gives priority to Jewish culture; this is an illiberal concept. Liberal democracy is either pro or anti-immigration for all, while Jewish democracy is pro Jewish immigration only; this is again a genuinely illiberal concept. And liberal democracy sides with adaptable family models, while Jewish democracy rests on the foundations of the Jewish family model as dictated by the rabbanut; once more, this is an illiberal concept.
Once you give up the principle of equality, you have given up the whole game. As in the nation state law. You have admitted the principle that people are unequal, and that some people are better than others. Once you have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, you have stamped your approval on the idea of rulers and subjects. At that point, all you can do is to hope that no one in power decides that you belong in the lesser group, in Israel that is the non Jewish Group. Or… in this case the struggle between two distinct Israeli groups, those that support liberal democracy versus those that support illiberal Jewish “democracy”.
What are in the world is an “illiberal democracy”?
How does the proposed legislation make Israel less democratic?
If a leftist government voted to defer elections for seven years under Clem’s of crisis- would the Supreme Court as now constituted veto that? Not likely. So what would change?
Ah! That Israel would cease to be an oligarchy and return to being a democracy as it was before the judicial putsch of Aharon Barak.
I have been reading your articles for years and finally joined.I knew your father and am Naami cousin.The first part of tho=is article relating to the relationship with settlers was fantastic and movng.So much of your writing is informative andi nspiring.The last partthis article is frightening but in some ways ,I think, overstated.Some ofT=the problems you cited existed and mat still but to a much lessor extent.Israel is still a young country changed ,often radically. by each wave of immigration.I have been visitng since 1959 when we were in Haifa and awakened by Black Panther rioting. Sefaridim have come a long way since then.Prior you had theJews from Arab countris.I lived with my family on Nili St in one of the buildings built to house them and look now.The R ussians were easier since they were talented and educated but even the Etiopians despite obvious serious deficits have made tremendous progress.Yes there are still problems amonst classes but the progress has been astoundingFar better and faster than post slavery blacks here
There are things that need to be better but I am far more optimistic on that level.
Settlers.Haredimthe political system are more systemic and scare me much moreI love reading your articles and always learning from them.
Daniel's crie d'cour shows an empathy even for those he does not agree with (hareidim, settlers), which is his greatness. However, his thesis that all these groups feeling that the government has betrayed them may spell doom for Israel is simply wrong. When has the "government" ever been our salvation? During the first two Jewish republics, we were ruled by kings almost all of whom were evil. During the first Temple period, all but a handful of kings were exploitive, corrupt idol-worshippers. But our downfall came because of the sins of the populace--murder, adultery, and idolatry. During the second Temple period, the rulers were blood-thirsty and immoral (except for Queen Shlomtzion!). But our downfall came because we hated each other. Governments are always made up of power-hungry individuals who want what is best for their group. Jewish survival has always depended on God, not governments. The situation today is no more grim than in May, 1967, when most Israelis expected to be driven into the sea, but God did miracles for us during the Six-Day War. The whole State of Israel is a miracle of God. So instead of fearing the end (and in addition to whatever political efforts we make), we should be praying to God to save us as only He can. Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog, grandfather of our current president, was in South Africa in 1942. When he made plans to return to Palestine, people told him he was crazy. Rommel was conquering North Africa and it would be only a matter of time till the Nazis reached Palestine and destroyed the Jewish population. Rabbi Herzog replied that it is written in the Prophets that Israel will be destroyed twice, not three times. He returned to Palestine, and Rommel was miraculously stopped at El Alamein.
There is a breadth and depth of empathetic commentary here that I've seen nowhere else (including in the short time Rabbi Gordis was given on the Haaretz panel). From your ears to G-d's mouth.
"..everything that Judaism ought to stand for."
Interesting phrase and not the first time you've used something to that effect. It's interesting to me for two reasons, 1) because there's so many different personalities/opinions in any religion, why would you expect any singular behavior just because of a religion and 2) I noticed you never say this about Muslims. I know you have a deep respect for Muslims, but to me, when you DON'T use phrases like this for when Muslims are violent, it's suggesting that you expect it? Or that you're not surprised Muslims behave in a certain manner because they're not Jewish? Whenever Jewish Israelis are killed by Muslims, you always say it's a tragedy, but you never say anything to the effect that Muslims shouldn't be behaving that way because they're Muslims, but when you feel Jews are misbehaving, you make an effort to point out it's unbecoming of Judaism.
I suppose I feel it's condescending to assume Jews should behave a certain way because they're Jewish but not Have the same expectation for other religions? I don't think it's intended and I understand where it comes from, but that doesn't mean it's not condescending in some form.
A poignant, thoughtful and heart-wrenching view of the current scene in Israel begs the question: how to deal with this critical situation to at least ameliorate it to a non-critical state. The answer may well lie with the issue that appears to be the proverbial straw that is about to break the camel's back.
Those opposing the current legislation portend a tyrannizing majority suppressing a minority. Those in favor of the legislation claim the de facto, absolute rule by an unelected, self-perpetuating minority undermines the democratic concept of majority rule. Both views have some credence.
It seems evident that all the responsible advocates for both positions have recognized the need for, and are willing to agree to, a variety of compromise proposals. What must cease are the incessant calls for protests and, even worse, the implied calls for violence. Responsible leaders from all spheres of Israeli life have to join in a chorus espousing reason and expressing demands for negotiations. President Herzog seems, to this outsider, to be uniquely positioned to effectuate the beginning of this process.
May we all pray that calmer and wiser voices will be heard throughout the Land of Israel so that Israel can continue to develop to the full potential our People deserve and of which they are capable.
Heartbreaking reflection of where we are. But if we want to heal... at least we need to start by acknowledging what is broken...