Israelis seem to be awakened now to a harsh reality of looted public funds, widespread corruption, legal system under attack, and increasing social violence. Many wonder this has always been the case, but the general sentiment is that Israel has been plunged into a nightmare. Therefore, the growing demand is to return to a past era that is viewed as good and just – to the liberal democracy that prevailed in the country. The question is though, is this supposed golden era a figment of imagination – a fabricated myth?
George Orwell’s ‘1984’ depicts a dystopian reality where fake news serves as one of the signs of impending doom, and history is rewritten to suit the leadership’s needs. The language spoken in this society is gradually replaced by “Newspeak,” which restricts the thinking ability of citizens and enables them to adopt “doublethink” – holding two opposing thoughts at the same time. In Israel, some foundational “truths” of society conform to this rule.
Israel’s revenant liberal camp, which perceives itself as the bearer of truth, needs to reflect on who is actually propagating false information. Despite numerous accounts that have exposed Netanyahu’s untruthful statements and his capacity to manipulate reality, it’s crucial to recognize that most Israeli liberals are so deeply ingrained in their traditional cultural beliefs, which are actually “fake olds”, that they vehemently resist anyone attempting to expose the truth, who now happen to be the judicial reform supporters.
Take for instance the “Conscription Law”, which has sparked public outrage, with opponents claiming that it will put an end to the “People’s Army” model. However, in reality, this law is a non-conscription law, and the People’s Army is only half the people’s army. Implementing this law will merely reflect the existing situation in Israel for years.
Similarly, there is a heated debate over the possibility of “annexing of the Occupied Territories,” with opponents warning that it would turn Israel into an “apartheid state.” In reality, the “territories” – from which the forbidden word “occupied” has been removed – have already been annexed to Israel for over fifty years, and an apartheid regime thrives there, maintained by none other than “the most moral army in the world” – another Israeli axiomatic sacred cow. This represents doublethink at its best, and annexing the Occupied Territories would just expose reality as it is.
Another example is Israel’s ongoing military campaigns, which for years are referred to as “military operations” rather than “wars”. These campaigns are regarded as hindrances to the country’s presumed ultimate goal of obtaining peace, which is unfortunately consistently threatened by its adversaries’ aggression, rooted solely in their inherent murderous nature and anti-Semitism.
Finally, opponents of the judicial reform argue that it endangers Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. However, the current state of Israel hardly represents a liberal democracy, as its citizens are not granted the basic democratic rights to marry, divorce, and bury according to their individual beliefs. Furthermore, discrimination and categorization based on religion, race, and gender are manifested in both law and practice, and above all – Israel has control over millions of individuals in the occupied territories whose fundamental human and civil rights are denied. Thus, one may question whether even before the reform Israel can genuinely be considered democratic, in addition to its Jewish identity.
Myths play a vital role in every society, yet there are times when the truth challenges them. Israel is currently facing a critical and existential juncture that forces a decision – to be or not to be? to stick with the reassuring realm of imaginary self-glorifying myths or to confront the multifaceted challenges of reality. Though opting for the latter requires a great deal of courage, it is only by doing so can the country thrive, evolve, and prosper. In the same way that Hamlet chose to endure his misfortune rather than seek solace in sleep, it is hoped that Israel’s liberal camp will likewise awaken to the prevalence of falsehoods and consciously choose to embrace the truth.