Esor Ben-Sorek

Bibi and the French Revolution

If and when prime minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu is found guilty and sentenced to a term in prison, he would do well to bring with him a history book dealing with the causes of the French Revolution and its similarities to revolts among the Israeli populace.

The French Revolution lasted for 10 years beginning in 1789 and ending in 1799. “It was a period of social and political upheaval in France, resulting in the establishment of a secular democratic republic that became increasingly authoritarian and militaristic” (Wikipedia).

That sounds familiar, becoming the social and political upheaval in Israel which we now witness.

The Revolution began with the storming of the infamous prison of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, influenced by the earlier American Revolution against Britain.

King Louis XVI, the last monarch in France, was executed by “Madame la Guillotine” in January 1793.

Under the French monarchy, the Catholic church enjoyed many privileges and the Catholic clergy had immense power over the French population. Life and death were in the hands of the clergy. (Sounds familiar?)

As a result of the Revolution, free France passed a Civil Constitution of the Clergy on 12 July 1790. When the powers of the clergy were stripped away over the protests of the Vatican, France became a secular nation.

Exchanging the words “Catholic clergy”: for “Jewish clergy” one would have to be completely blind not to recognize the similarities. Israel, to the sorrow of millions of our citizens, controls our lives from birth, to marriage and divorce, to death and burial.

While I am an observant Jew, I do not support a democracy governed by rabbis. That is a theocracy. Our clergy is only entitled to the same benefits and privileges which are the blessings of all Israeli citizens.

The indicted prime minister must not have any special privileges or benefits regarding his trial in the High Court of Justice. And if convicted, he must endure similar punishments given to former President Moshe Katzav and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

He is presently drowning in the midst of tens of thousands of protestors demanding him to resign.

His lack of success in quashing the growing numbers of our coronavirus victims is pathetic. Many thousands of our citizens are unemployed with little or no hope of returning to their work.

But King Bibi, like King Louis XVI, dwells in comfort in his palace enjoying gourmet meals not prepared by his wife who fears damaging her manicured finger-nails. He cannot be silent to the cries of protest outside his official residence (hopefully not for too much longer) nor viewing the many placards on television held high by the masses of the civilian protestors condemning him and demanding that he step down.

Our social and political crises today are not so unfamiliar to those which brought the end of the monarchy to France and which, no doubt, created the expression that “heads must roll”.

One of our biggest problems is that we have far too many political parties…between 38 & 42 of them. 3 or 4 large parties & the rest are small & insignificant.

Jews cannot always agree with one another, hence the birth of so many fragmented political parties became a part of Israeli life. It should be a government of only 4 political groups: right, left, religious and Arab joint list.

A specified term of political office, no more than two terms, should be passed into law. The language law which was written in 1917 by the British Mandate for Palestine must be preserved. Arabic, one of the three legally recognized official languages (the other two being Hebrew and English) must be rightfully returned to its 100 year old status, removed two years ago by the creation of the Nation-State Law which disenfranchised one million of our Arabic-speaking population (Arabs and Druze).

Without change… drastic and legal change… our current revolt will only grow in larger numbers and the French Revolution will become an Israeli Revolution with only one difference:

There is no Madame la Guillotine in Israel. Mon Dieu. C’est vraiment terrible !

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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