One need not be a film director nor a dance choreographer to notice that the wave of protests against proposed judicial reform has a very orchestrated, staged and anything but spontaneous appearance to it.
We know that there has been massive financing, largely by American Leftist interests, who have sought to transplant a model of “resistance” to our shores, with more than a small whiff of the looming, lurking Antifa-like threatening behavior that has come to mark Leftist “mostly peaceful” protests in the United States.
In case there are those who think, no that can’t happen here, a recent event should perhaps prompt a reassessment.
Early this past Sunday morning it was discovered that a large banner supporting judicial reform hanging on a building and facing the Ayalon Freeway in Tel Aviv had been defaced. This was a planned and intricate operation, requiring ladders, paint and, above all, the willingness to do it
Visible and widespread efforts to support judicial reform have been relatively few, and have paled in comparison to the efforts to denigrate any attempt at reform. The millions who voted for the present government knew the reform was planned and have no reason to go out to the streets,
Nevertheless, in what must be seen as an eye opening act, the mere presence of advocacy for reform was deemed to be unacceptable and intolerable. The idea that a dissenting voice from the protest movement could not be abided shines a light and provides an important perspective on the protests themselves.
This perspective is called “hypocrisy.” How is that such exquisite care for democracy does not include the freedoms and values that liberal democracies cherish and hold most dear? How is that, having weaponized both the Israeli flag and Israel’s Declaration of Independence in a sanctimonious display of virtue, there can be no room for another point of view?
To date the Left has refused to engage in discussions or negotiations concerning the proposals. They have called for pauses, delays and hiatuses, but the self-serving nature of these suggestions is highlighted by the corresponding lack of the willingness to talk.
Israelis must see the actions surrounding the prospect of judicial reform as something almost as important as the proposals themselves. We must put aside the shock the massive turnouts intended to elicit to see the mindset and the orientation that for a great many protesters has accompanied that turnout.
And that attitude is the antithesis of what the protesters profess to be interested in. What the Ayalon defacement makes clear is the attitude of “democracy for me but not for thee.” This is reflective of the imported American mindset of a morally repugnant opposition, and a cancel culture based on the unworthiness of conflicting points of view.
It is not that difficult to extrapolate from all this that there is an underlying focus on the retention of power, a retention that justifies actions that in reverse would be decried and roundly condemned. This focus on keeping power manifests itself in top down pressure on campuses from professors pressuring students to join protests, and at companies where senior management does the same with the rank and file, no matter what students and workers really think.
It is this take no prisoners attitude that makes the protesters’ professed obsession with the preservation of a liberal democracy seem like an Orwellian projection. All the hand wringing about the decline and fall of Israel if a hair on the head of the Supreme Court is mussed doesn’t quite jive with an insistence that theirs is the only way that democracy can thrive and endure.
Forget humility, this is simply an unwillingness to accord respect to the other; to see that there are other points of view, and to understand that the essence of democracy is abiding someone else’s equally sincere and committed perspective.
The attitude of the protesters makes it fairly clear why the Left no longer controls the Knesset. Now they are going to do whatever it takes to make sure that their comfortably reliable Supreme Court stays that way.
In all of this their actions have spoken louder than their massed and massive chants. Democracy only works when it works for each and all, not just those who shout the most about it.
Douglas Altabef is the Chairman of the Board of Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist organization, and a Director of B’yadenu and the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at [email protected].