What’s Happening in Israel and Why? The Bigger Picture – Part 02

What’s Happening in Israel and Why? The Bigger Picture – Part 02

Last month we learned that Israel, a robust democratic society, is no stranger to protests. But the 2023 version is without precedent in size and turmoil. Couple this with the external threats it faces and Israel is in a unique and concerning situation during its 75th Anniversary of statehood. In Part 02, we explore the deeper reasons for the conflict and what it could mean for us all.

Introduction: During most of the year 2023 Israel has experienced unprecedented internal and external shakings under the newly-installed Netanyahu government. http://majdali.blogspot.com/2023/04/whats-happening-in-israel-bigger.html

Missiles have rained down on Israel from the Gaza Strip while internally large ‘anti-judicial reform protests’ have taken protesting to a new and dangerous level of intensity. Then there’s sworn-enemy Hezbollah with its 100,000 rockets pointed at Israel. Let’s not forget the Iranian nuclear program which could be nearing ‘break out,’ with Israel in the crosshairs. All of these challenges are the backdrop as the Jewish state celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary.

Politicisation: In a healthy democracy, there are some institutions that must remain above politics. In a constitutional monarchy, like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and some nations in Europe, the monarch must remain politically neutral. With a ceremonial president as head of state, they, too, need to resist political involvement so as to represent the entire country, not just their preferred faction. 

Israel’s situation now has drawn in the participation of two erstwhile apolitical players. First is the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, a man on the Left. As a lawyer, he successfully lobbied outgoing US President Bill Clinton to grant a last-minute infamous presidential pardon to Marc Rich, a famous financier fugitive indicted for tax evasion, wire fraud, and trading oil with Iran during the 1979-81 hostage crisis. Herzog offered a peace plan and mediation between Netanyahu and the opposition leadership. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it is highly risky at best to inject politics into the apex of power, upsetting the balance of power. 

As mentioned earlier, the greater concern is the politicisation of the Israel Defense Force (IDF). There has been a campaign to use the IDF for social engineering and a leveller of society. Now there is a concerted effort in ideological indoctrination that has resulted in the refusal to report for reserve duty. The IDF’s sole purpose is to protect the nation and win wars, not indulge in partisan politics. Israel’s enemies must be rubbing their hands in glee. 

Then there is the politicisation of the judiciary, where they went from being constitutional umpires to political activists. This has long been the complaint of conservatives in the United States. If this is the case, the democracy-enhancing ‘separation of powers’ is undermined and so are democratic freedoms.

Election Overturning: The situation in Israel in many ways mirrors the events in the greater Western world. This social experiment in democracy stands alone in a region of military dictatorships, feudalistic sheikhdoms, and problematic quasi-democratic regimes. Yet, by mirroring the West, by copying the software Israel gets the program but also the computer viruses. 

Some, perhaps many of the leftist protestors have another agenda in mind – to cause the collapse of the government. Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister (fifteen years and counting, with two breaks) and certain sections of the country loathe him to demonic proportions (mind you, he did some open undermining of his own to bring down the previous left-wing government, which lasted only thirteen months). Australia and the UK have had musical chair prime ministers in recent years, too, but all this brings us back to the question: if we are going to have a proper and real democracy, then the people – and only the people – should be the one’s to choose the leader, not the permanent political class or party factions.

In short, like much of the Western world, Israel has its own version of the culture war, complete with woke secular progressives battling against traditional values and faith-family-freedom conservatives. The former has found power through a leftist judiciary and is determined to not allow an election to get in the way of retaining such power. 

Netanyahu in a speech to the nation said ‘Citizens of Israel, we live in a generation of revival.’ He means the opportunity to return and rebuild the Jewish homeland. For seventy-five years, this nation revived its ancient language, currency, ecology, Biblical cities and culture, performed agricultural miracles in the desert, has its own Silicon Valley and hi-tech start-ups, and a robust tourist industry. It has successfully integrated Jewish migrants from over a hundred nations. In the face of internal upheaval and external danger, real, Biblical, Holy Spirit revival is on the menu for Israel and the nations.

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