Criminals at the Helm: Our Lawless Legislature

The author at a recent rally at Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv. Photo credit: Nivi Yechieli, used with the photographer's permission
For as long as it takes. The author at Kaplan Street. photo credit: Nivi Yechieli, used with the photographer's permission

Convicted criminals serve as cabinet ministers in a government led by a thrice-indicted Crime Minister. The mind boggles. 

“Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”
― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

For anyone who doubts the seriousness of the threat to Israel’s democracy, here is food for thought.  On Sunday, the parliament will hear the proposal of a law entitling the National Security Minister to detain any citizen; to restrict their movement; to forbid them from leaving the country or even a certain region within Israel, and to hold them (us!) in administrative detention, without trial, and without legal recourse. These measures are the embodiment of a dictatorial regime. The valiant Attorney General of Israel, Gali Baharav-Miara, has said that the proposed measures are illegal and pose an extreme threat to the welfare of Israeli citizens.

The National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, leads the extremist, racist ‘Jewish Power’ political party. He is a convicted criminal. He was rejected by the Israeli military draft on account of his criminal conviction for supporting a nationalist terror group and inciting murder. Ben Gvir himself boasts that he has been indicted 53 times. Ben Gvir is a follower of ultra-nationalist Meir Kahane, and an avowed admirer of the murderer Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 worshipers and wounded 125 others at a mosque in Hebron in 1994.

This is the man currently entrusted with our National Security. The mind boggles. This surreal situation would be hilariously funny, were it not terrifying. If I were writing a screenplay, I would wonder if this scenario were too far-fetched to be believed. Convicted criminals serve as cabinet ministers in a government led by a thrice-indicted Crime Minister.

This same Crime Minister now faces former friends in court, including the US billionaire movie mogul, Arnon Milchan, who lavished gifts on the Netanyahu family in hopes of receiving substantial tax breaks. Inexplicably, the Crime Minister’s wife, Sara, who received expensive jewelry and other luxury goods from Milchan, traveled to London – at the Israeli taxpayers’ expense – to hear Milchan’s testimony in person. She is not there to testify. There is seemingly no reason why we hard-working Israeli citizens should be paying for her holiday in Brighton, England, the site of the hearings.

Kaplan Rally. Photo: Nili Bresler

We, the people, don’t have the money to fly off to Brighton. We are spending our money to support the protest movement. And our money is dwindling, as the Israeli economy continues to suffer because of this intolerable situation. Even if we had the money to take a junket to the lovely town of Brighton, we do not have the time: We are busy marching, demonstrating, blocking roads, and preparing for further action. The protest movement is escalating in the face of the ever-growing threat. The leaders of the protest movement have called for civil disobedience, and we are ready.

We, the people, are determined to fight for as long as needed.

“A nationalist will say that ‘it can’t happen here,’ which is the first step toward disaster. A patriot says that it could happen here, but that we will stop it.”
― Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Week 26 of the protest. Over a hundred thousand of us march to Kaplan Street.  Thousands more march in every city, throughout the country. The struggle continues.

About the Author
Nili Bresler is a member of Israel's pro-democracy movement. She is a business communications coach with experience in management at multinational technology companies. Prior to her career in high-tech, Nili was a news correspondent for the AP. Nili holds a degree in International Relations from NYU. Nili volunteers with the nonprofit, NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief. Nili made aliya in 1970 and lives in Ramat Gan.
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