Ron Kronish

Imaginary letter to Bibi from a concerned citizen

December 29, 2022 demonstration against the new government. Photo by Avshalom Cohen Bar
December 29, 2022 demonstration against the new government. Photo by Avshalom Cohen Bar

Dear Bibi,

Why did you do it?

Why did you bring the most extremist political parties in Israel into the ruling coalition which you now head? (For the 6th time!)

You knew who they were —you are very familiar with the dangerous racist ideologies they represent. You repudiated them in the past. They were beyond the pale of normative Israeli politics for a long time, just as their mentor Meir Kahane was rejected by most political parties in Israel after his extremist racism was blatant to all after he served one term in the Knesset!

You knew exactly how dangerous Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir were and are and yet, you made their political party misnamed “Religious Zionism” kosher (legitimate) by letting the political system know that they were part of your political “block”. You legitimized them. And then, after the elections of November 1, 2022, you negotiated with them and gave in to all their ridiculous and frightening demands, including appointing Ben Gvir, the head of the Kahanist “Jewish Power” party, to the post of Minister of National Security, a shocking and dystopian scenario, which the citizens of Israel—and the Palestinians in the territories—are paying the price for every day. You know very well that this man has a long criminal background—highlighted by anarchistic demonstrations against the authorities in Israel over many years—and yet you gave in to his absurd demand to be the minister in charge of the security of the people of Israel, which in Hebrew we would call hafooch al hafooch , i.e., everything is exactly opposite what it is supposed to be! Moreover, you have even adopted his mantra of calling the demonstrators against the judicial revolution “anarchists”, even though you know it is just “spin” and you know that Ben Gvir is the most anarchistic person in Israel.

As if it wasn’t enough for you to do this, you appointed Bezalel Smotrich to be Minister of Finance, a post for which you know he is totally unqualified; you also gave in to making him a minister within the Ministry of Defense (in charge of the “Civil Administration”) something that has never been done before in Israeli history, which has caused tremendous confusion within the government and the military as to who is in charge in the Occupied Territories. You know very well that he is an extremist settler who wants to annex the West Bank (and go back to Gaza) and who has absolutely no regard for Palestinians and their rights to anything. (By the way, do you have any concern for the rights of Palestinians?)

You knew that both he and his pal Ben Gvir would ignite the flames of hatred in the West Bank by all their incendiary statements, not to mention to instigate violence all over the territories. Not only did they condone the pogrom against innocent civilians in Hawara by settler youth a few weeks ago, but Smotrich said that the village should be completely destroyed! But this didn’t seem to bother you very much, since you need them in your ruling coalition. You could not have formed this government without them, although you would never have allowed yourself to do so only a few short years ago.

And why did you bring us Yariv Levin (Minister of “Justice”),who is trying to undo the Justice system!) and Simcha Rothman (from the “Religious Zionism” party, whom you appointed to be Chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee), to drive us all crazy with their so-called “judicial reforms” which everyone knows, including you, are really an all-out attack on the judiciary in Israel? They have been trying to do everything in their power —and they are gloating with power now!—to weaken Israel’s judicial systems, especially the Supreme Court. As you know well, despite the spin that you try to give to the media (which sees right through it and doesn’t buy it any more), this has nothing to do with improving democracy in Israel. The opposite is the case.

The only good thing that has come out of their attempts at eviscerating Israel’s judiciary branch (which everyone knows, including you, that you are behind this and that Levin and Rothman are only your front men) has been the massive movement for democracy that has sprung up against you and your coalition partners which is sweeping the country!! Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy citizens — sane, normal and caring people from all over the country — are taking to the streets every week to protest your attempt to destroy our democracy. Last night, about a half a million people demonstrated against your government’s policies all over Israel, in the largest demonstration of civil society in Israeli history.

Furthermore, just a few days ago, the president of Israel, Yitzhak Herzog, spoke out clearly and concisely about the crisis now facing Israel because of your all-out attack on our judicial system. On Thursday night March 8th, at a brief and emotional press conference, this is what he said:

The package of legislation currently being discussed in the [Constitution] Committee needs to disappear, and quickly. It is wrong, it is oppressive, it undermines our democratic foundations. And therefore, it must be replaced with another plan, one that has consensus, and immediately.

Did you hear him? Will you take it to heart ? Will you stop the insanity that you have unleashed against the citizens of Israel, Jews and Arabs alike, by this blitz of anti-democratic legislation? Or will you continue to tell us that this is somehow good for us and we just don’t understand while our economic and social fabrics are being torn asunder?

Oh, and while I’m at it, why did you not stop Finance Minister Smotrich from going to embarrass Israel in the USA? You could have arranged to call it off. You know how to call influential people when you want to! You could have prevented him from going. His presence in the USA will be a big embarrassment to our country. You know this very well. Why didn’t you prevent this?

I come back to my original question: why did you form this extremist government in the first place?

Is it because you don’t want to go to prison like other fallen Israeli politicians have done since they actually finished their trials in court on major counts of corruption?  Former Prime Minister Olmert went to prison and re-emerged.  Former President Katsav went to prison and got out. It’s not so bad. And the minister who is in charge of prisons would probably give you a suite where Sarah could visit you (and bring you some champagne and cigars).

Perhaps you don’t want your trial to go to the end because you don’t trust our prosecutors and our courts? You have said so publicly many times, including at a major press conference at the Ministry of Justice when your trial on major counts of corruption began a few years ago, in one of the most shocking speeches that you have ever given (former American president T**** would have been proud of you). Would you rather change the judicial system here so that your trial can be cancelled?  And then you can go on being Prime Minister forever!

Have you thought seriously yet about the fact you are bringing down the house upon us in Israel with your judicial upheaval and your appointments of irresponsible ministers? That you have created a huge crisis in Israel, which is causing us economic harm, severe security concerns and is ruining Israel’s reputation in the international community? Have you considered what this might do to your legacy?

Perhaps it is time to accept the advice of Tamir Pardo, the former head of the Mossad, whom you know well. Did you read about it in the Israeli media? He suggested that you resign from your position as Prime Minister and focus on defending yourself in your trial. This was the best advice for you that I have read about in a long time. You can even relax and play golf in Caesarea in your free time. Also, this would allow a new leader of the Likud party to emerge, who could easily form a government with other centrist parties, without the ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious extremists in the government. Have you thought that perhaps this would help you in reframing your legacy by passing on the baton of leadership, which might lead to some political stability in Israel?

Many people, like me, have been asking these questions for the past few months , but we are not getting a real answer.  Think about it and send me a response when you have some free time.


Concerned Citizen R

About the Author
Rabbi Dr Ron Kronish is the Founding Director the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), which he directed for 25 years. Now retired, he is an independent educator, author, lecturer, writer, speaker, blogger and consultant. He is the editor of 5 books, including Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel--Voices for Interreligious Dialogue (Paulist Press, 2015). His new book, The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue, a View from Jerusalem, was published by Hamilton Books, an imprint of Rowman and LIttelfield, in September 2017. He recently (September 2022) published a new book about peacebuilders in Israel and Palestine entitled Profiles in Peace: Voices of Peacebuilders in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which is available on Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository websites,
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