Fern Reiss

Cassandra: What’s Next for Israel, Post-September?

photo courtesty of Canva
photo courtesty of Canva

I have a reputation for being Cassandra. But the thing about Cassandra is, her predictions are not just disbelieved. They usually come true.

I called the Trump presidency, and Covid, long before anyone knew about them. I’m hoping I’m wrong about what is happening to Israel. But here’s how I see it unfolding, unless the Coalition falls apart before the Supreme Court rules on Unreasonableness in September. The government might not do all of this – but this is where they’re heading, and most of this is what they’ve promised us.

* Unchecked except by protests, the Coalition goes ahead with its plan: Total control of the country, forever. Either the court rules that they can keep unreasonableness. Or the court rules against it, provoking a constitutional crisis.

* If the former, the Coalition immediately passes a law that Basic Laws require only a simple majority of 61 Knesset seats to pass, AND once passed, Basic Laws and their amendments can’t be undone by the courts. (After that, the current government has carte blanche – they can rule anything. There are zero checks and balances.)

* If the latter, a constitutional crisis is created: The courts have ruled against it, and the Coalition, as they have already promised, won’t abide by the court’s ruling. Either way, though it depends largely on who is by then still in the military and who is newly on the police force or the Ben-Gvir militia, it won’t be pretty.

What happens next?

* Draconian restrictions will be implemented at the Kotel, likely affecting both women and tourists.

* Women’s rights will be abrogated, including such things as in which units they can serve in the army, and where they can legally sit on a bus.

* Co-ed concerts, beaches, conferences will become a thing of the past.

* The extremist government will quickly annex the West Bank.

* Relations with the US will become tepid, and US military support and US support in the UN and The Hague will erode. (PM Netanyahu won’t ever get that White House invitation, unless Trump is back.) The Saudi deal, which the US is currently actively brokering, will wither.

* International relations, already bad, will suffer irreparably. Those who called Israel apartheid will soon be right.

* The government will rule the pilots’ refusal to sign on for their volunteer service, illegal — or will change their service to required, rather than voluntary — which will encourage the pilots to leave, not just their service, but the country. More sectors of the army will refuse service and follow them – pilots, 8200, reservists, are just the start.

* Personal freedoms will be limited, including restrictions on gatherings (such as protests, which I’m guessing will very soon be deemed illegal for ‘security and safety’ reasons)

* Police will have expanded rights, including such things as arrests without cause, and Ben Gvir’s militia will have little supervision.

* Gun violence will increase as a result of Ben-Gvir’s new guns-for-all program, already underway.

* Arabs will lose civil rights and all pretense of support for infrastructure etc. It is possible that voting rights will be tied to army service (which will include Haredim in yeshivas, under the new law, but not Arabs.) But it is more likely that there will be some other pretext that prevents Arabs from voting.

* The Law of Return will be amended so that Nuremberg Jews (ie, one Jewish grandparent) will no longer be sufficient, and only halachic Jews will be admitted.

* The preparedness of the military will be impaired, because of the emigration of people in key positions.

* The eroding tax base and disintegrating economy will affect everything.

* Israel will slowly begin to resemble less a startup nation, and more a developing world country.

* Lebanon, which is having its own dismal domestic situation, will initiate or provoke a war, which will end up being on at least three or four fronts, including the West Bank. It is not unlikely that PM Netanyahu will provoke said war, as a distraction, and to force the issue with the volunteer reservists declining further service.

* Power will continue to be pulled away from the municipalities, so that in the absence of a House of Representatives, what scant direct representation Israelis had, will disappear. (You can see this already with the the Arnona bill, moving business Arnona from the municipalities to the settlements and Haredim. Next will be the rabbis, moving from being locally selected to hand-picked by the Shas Religious Affairs Ministry; that is already underway.)

* Voting rights and thresholds will be changed to ensure that the current coalition is re-elected, and that undesirable populations – leftwingers, Arabs, maybe women – will slowly lose voting rights.

* The government will declare yeshiva Torah study equal to military service, with equal benefits. (This bill was proposed by UTJ as this article went to press.)

* PM Netanyahu will increasingly lose control of his coalition, and will increasingly be jerked around by the latest threats to leave said government unless they receive more money, better legal accommodations, and bigger militias. (I’m guessing PM Netanyahu yields soon to Yariv Levin, who takes over the Knesset and the country, but that’s just a guess.)

* The country will be an autocratic state, or one that is indefensible, or both.

* The international financial institutions will continue to downgraded Israel’s credit rating; foreign investment will disappear; and the country will lose money.

* Taxes will go way up. And then up again.

* The government, worried about running out of funds and having promised to fund everyone in the Coalition, will freeze bank accounts so money can’t be withdrawn from the country.

* The government will nationalize businesses. (Already the high tech companies are incorporating in Delaware instead, as the handwriting is already on the wall.) Businesses will stop bringing their business to Israel, and entrepreneurs will go elsewhere.

* Eventually, needing more money, the government will have to raid pensions.

* Doctors, high tech, nuclear engineers — anyone with education, skills, languages, desirable passports, will slowly, sadly, eventually leave. (Polls show 28% of the population is considering leaving right now.)

Here’s what the government – obsessed with judicial reform and unraveling the country – is not dealing with:

* Affordable housing

* Affordable groceries

* Curtailing the monopolies that make everything unaffordable

* Safety issues of all sorts, starting with insufficient miklatim country-wide, and limited earthquake protection

* Car insurance, which just went up 30%-40%, apparently because car thefts are way up

* Deaths in the Arab sector, including honor killings

* Mafia

* Ecology issues

* Bedouins and their lack of housing and infrastructure

* Thefts from army bases country-wide

* Education, including instituting a basic curriculum (also for the Arab and Haredi sector, that is conditional upon getting funding, and that includes at least math and languages)

* Medical, with more doctors, medical schools, hospitals, ambulances, ICU ambulances, and medical equipment.

* Better transportation and better infrastructure in general

But none of that will be addressed, because the government is so intent on judicial reform. Or as NYT’s Tom Friedman so eloquently put it, Israel is now ruling by the philosophy, “It’s my turn to eat.”

This draconian list of likely outcomes is the price of PM Netanyahu’s get-out-of-jail-free card. For the friends who think we’re exaggerating – the handwriting is already on the wall. Unless the Coalition goes belly-up before September, I would not want to bet on the likelihood of any of this.

If even half of this happens, we’re in big trouble.


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