July 29, 2023


The wounded Jewish psyche and the divided Israeli soul (YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI, 28 July 2023, Times of Israel)

In one sense, what is happening to Israel is hardly unusual. Populist wars against elites are being waged all over the world. And yet Israel is unique: While other societies can endure a populist wave of resentment and even violent hatred, Israel's long-term survival in the Middle East depends on maintaining its modernist elite (while expanding the entry points into the elite to ensure greater diversity). The alternative is gradual - or perhaps rapid - descent into a dysfunctional society led by corrupt counter-elites, precisely the scenario modeled by this government.

Israel is unique in one other way: Our elites are not only "privileged" but sacrificial. There is no elite like ours anywhere else in the West.

Just when we assumed that the era of sacrifice was over, and the stereotype of the Tel Avivis concerned only with their own interests and pleasure had taken hold in the public imagination, along came the most intense protest movement in Israel's history. Led by veterans of elite combat units, by men and women who have taken open-ended leave from positions in high tech and academia to devote themselves to saving Israel, the movement is an outbreak of passionate patriotism, a protective embrace of the Israeli ethos.

Over and over, protesters tell interviewers variations of the same story: I'm doing this for my father who was wounded in the Yom Kippur War, for my son who was killed in Lebanon, for my grandparents who were uprooted from Iraq or who survived the Holocaust, for my great-grandparents who helped build the state. Now, they say, it's my turn to defend the country.

The protest movement persists week after week, maintaining astonishing turn-outs, because its wellsprings are Jewish history and the Zionist story

One of the protest movement's greatest achievements has been in claiming as its symbol the Israeli flag, refusing to cede it to the right. The movement persists week after week, maintaining astonishing turn-outs, because its wellsprings are Jewish history and the Zionist story. This force is unstoppable.

Just as the protest movement is trying to protect the Israeli success story, this government is actively seeking to destroy it. Each party within the coalition has taken responsibility for undermining another aspect of modern Israel.

The far-right zealots are in charge of ensuring that Israel becomes an outcast among democratic nations. The ultra-Orthodox state-within-a-state is laying the ground for the eventual ruin of the Israeli economy, forced to maintain an ever-expanding, chronically under-productive population. And a thoroughly corrupted Likud is in charge of dismantling the independent judiciary, the last line of defense for Israeli democracy.

This government, which promotes itself as the guarantor of Israeli security, is the greatest internal threat to our security in the nation's history.

Posted by at July 29, 2023 7:06 PM