It’s voting day, and nothing less than the fate of Israeli democracy is at stake. The way I see it, a vote for Bibi – or any of the right-wing bloc that would suggest him as Prime Minister – is a vote against Israeli democracy.
Let’s start off with the corruption cases against Bibi: Nobody contests the facts. They simply contest Bibi’s motivations and the legal standing of said facts.
And what do the facts show?
A prime minister obsessed with controlling the media, when in fact, freedom of the press is one of the crucial components of a democracy. Bibi’s private attempts to control the press are mirrored by his public attempts to vilify them and destroy public trust in journalists. Presumably, that way, nobody will believe journalists who air his dirty laundry. But the free press is what creates informed and empowered voters – the foundations of a healthy democratic society.
Bibi has also openly said he doesn’t consider Israel a country of all its citizens. Equality before the law and equal rights for all citizens is one of the foundations of a democracy. The very premise of democracy is that each citizen counts – literally. Bibi is on-record denying that principle.
Bibi’s anti-democracy rhetoric is now being mimicked across the right: For example, the New Right party has posters that say “Bennet will defeat Hamas” and “Shaked will defeat the Supreme Court”, as if the two were equal threats to Israel’s safety, when in fact, the Supreme Court is one of the core components of a healthy democracy. If Bibi wins this election, he will have a greater platform to spread those ideas -and his success will inspire more political parties to copy him -thereby leading to a massive government-led campaign to erode public trust in Israel’s democratic institutions.
Bibi has also gone on record promising to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank -without providing citizenship for Palestinians in the West Bank -and confirmed that he has no plans to establish a Palestinian state.
Following through with that would make Israel an apartheid state – a state with two sets of laws for two sets of people, based on ethnicity. What prevents Israel from being an apartheid state at the moment? A) There is full equality before the law in Israel proper (i.e. within the Green Line), for Jews and Arabs. B) The West Bank is not technically part of Israel, so even if there are some different rules there for Israelis and Palestinians, that does not make it apartheid. C) The Occupation is temporary and is meant to lead eventually to a Palestinian state. Israel only maintains a military presence in the West Bank due to security concerns for its citizens.
Annexing the Jewish areas of the West Bank while keeping Palestinians in the West Bank disenfranchised and precluding the possibility of a Palestinian state would get rid of reasons A-C.
Bibi also urged the Otzma Yehudit Jewish fascist party to join Bayit Yehudi, helping them to potentially get into the Knesset. He has been cozying up to leaders with dictatorial tendencies, some of whom are associated with ultra-nationalist -and even anti-Semitic -parties, such as the presidents of Poland and Hungary.
So a vote for Bibi is a vote against democracy.
Unfortunately, a vote for any of the right-wing bloc parties: Bayit Yehudi, Otzma Yehudit, and the New Right – is de facto a vote for Bibi as well.
Today, nothing less than Israel’s continued existence as a democratic, Jewish state is at stake.
In other words, the future of Zionism lies in our hands -literally, when we go to cast our ballots.
Which future will we vote for?