Clowns to the right of me

The differences between us and erstwhile Palestine are stark. Even though Palestine does not exist, only a minority denies its right to exist. With Israel, the mirror image is a correct assessment.

We have one similarity, we are both involved in internecine struggles that are the greatest threat to their respective existences.

We are not here to discuss Palestine. For once, Palestine is not an Israeli issue. There is a far greater one. The circus has come to town.

Israel is watching a circus where the animals and clowns are running amok. The supposed ring-master is being mauled by the dancing bears. The orangutans try to save him by jumping up and down on the trampoline. All the animals have read Animal Farm, but none are sure about the message. Meanwhile, the clowns, some with painted tears, some with daubed frightening leers are everywhere. Wherever you look a clown with a buffoon like explanation.

In years to come, we look back and ask when and how we lost control and our state.

Israel missed the swinging sixties. Instead, we had the six-day war. In the sixties, the west was reshaped by many factors. Three of them were sub-liminal; Ayn Rand was both a philosopher and an authoress. She posited the idea of individualism and capitalism. In her epitome of raw, red-meat, Darwinian capitalism dog eats dog even if not hungry. Rand gave rise to both the elimination of regulation, financial shenanigans and unfettered, feted, institutionalized greed. All were to collapse the world’s commerce. Israel missed out on this because of a little luck and the sound fiscal management of Netanyahu and Fisher. All the same, Israel acquired a disdain for anything with the weakest scent of socialism. We idolized the sobriquet, ‘the start-up nation.’ Diluted, Yiddisher Rand became the uncontested Israeli socio-economic DNA.

The sixties saw another social movement. In the wake of the unpopular Vietnam War protests were everywhere. The social divide was no longer between the rich and the poor. The struggle was morality versus nationality. You protested the morality of the war, or you supported your nation’s war effort. The left no longer represented the worker; it was an amorphous mind-set. The ‘New Left’ brought some old-new concepts: ‘Power to the people,’ and ‘The brotherhood of man.’ Two evocative and emotional statements were the bedrock of the promised revolution. A revolution of a dedicated small band following the paths of Fidel and Che. They were to achieve universality and inalienable rights. The idea of vanguardism and the cherished concepts seeped into the fabric of western universities. Slowly, but surely, the Israeli law establishment drank the brew. Aharon Barak was one such believer. At his pinnacle, he managed to establish two concepts: every issue was deemed judgeable; the supremacy of the Supreme Court. At one, he allowed the Supreme Court to interfere in all, and no one or nothing could interfere with the Supreme Court. The justices claimed they were above politics. They were our moral arbiters and defenders of democracy. As the High Court is not elected and considering their conceptual DNA, both claims are blatant, self-serving hogwash.

The third tectonic change in the US winged across the Ocean and Mediterranean, to set up its nest in Israel. Investigative journalism came to the fore with Watergate. Journalists uncovered lies and deceit; eventually, a President fell. Woodward and Bernstein, the two principle journalists, are the hallmark of excellence in today’s media industry. Journalists now made the news, they did not report it. The blurring of the boundary led to a far more corrosive aspect. Before the Watergate affair, people were interviewed to present their point of view. We knew what the interviewed person thought. We did not know what the interviewer’s opinion was; a good news programme would present a proponent and agonist to an issue. The listener or viewer was allowed to form their opinion. Now the listener or viewer is led and encouraged to accept the programme’s point of view. Crusading and enlisted journalism is acceptable journalism. The nouveau crusader phenomena, like its evangelical soul-mate in the judiciary, is in-turned with tendencies to be a closed shop. The two owe their origins and allegiances to the new-left that otherwise passed Israel by.

One further factor will be discussed as we dissect the demise of Israel. Immigration left a deep scar. The immigrants felt dispossessed and second class citizens. Their representative, fighting the wealthy establishment was the Likud. Israel’s established classes had monopolized the natural political home for the immigrants. Israeli left was a sham pretending to be wannabe New Left. The Likud had one thing no other party had; the leader led- no matter what.

In power, we have a neo-Randist who believes the only justification you need to something is the ability to do it. Accepting massive presents; sitting when a potential bribe is offered; setting up a good deal for a buddy are all acceptable. Why is that so? The law does not explicitly ban it. If it is not illegal to do, then do as you please. Bibi is the boss of the Likud- as such untouchable and irreproachable. Our evangelical crusading media has hounded Netanyahu as the anti-Christ they feel he is. Their new job description allows them to.  Finally, our judiciary can place a man on trial not because he broke the written law. They can put him on trial if he transgresses a law they feel should exist but does not. The Likud masses are threatened and threatening .

And so Israel fell. The establishment was looking fifty years into history instead of five minutes into the future. They should have set limits, and they did not. If only we had curtailed the excesses of Barak; we so badly needed an influential ethics committee to monitor errant and rabid journalists. Above all, like every civil servant our Prime Minister should have answered to a Disciplinary Body with due standing.

None of this happened because the problem was far more engrossing than the solution.

And thus Israel fell.

About the Author
Born in Leeds in 1944, Michael Benjamin is a retired Psychiatrist and medical auditor, co-founder of Oranit, aspiring author and inveterate cynic.
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