The rift in Israeli society has almost felt forgotten in the fog of the war of the last months. Calls for unity and “victory together” is painting not only the conversations between neighbours and coworkers but also the physical presence of the Israeli landscape. Together we stand against the enemy in Hamas that wants to erase us. At least for now.
Last week’s verdict of the Supreme Court to strike down the only judicial overhaul law the Netanyahu government managed to pass before the 7th of October reminded us of where Israel really stands today – and what is really needed to be done.
Like opening a wound that slowly started to heal, the court’s verdict put the light on the internal bleeding of Israeli society. And the reactions of more or less responsible politicians reminded us of the days of nation-wide protests and talks about civil war.
Ministers of the Government took the chance to attack the judiciary as their main enemy. From Minister Ofir Akunis request for forgiveness on behalf of the court to all soldiers to Justice minister Yariv Levin’s accusation of the judges taking full control over the State of Israel. The left celebrated the victory of justice – not taking into concern the feeling of loss of power the electorate of the right must feel at this moment.
While it may be seen as a fight between liberal or conservative values – this is just a symptom of a much graver struggle in Israeli society. The core issue at hand is not at this stage a fight about particular politics or implementation of policies. Ultimately the rules of the game in itself are not living up to its purposes to create and embrace a playground where the formation of the Israeli state as Jewish and Democratic can thrive and develop.
The murderous Saturday reminded us of what we evidently do have in common – our enemies. But we must be more than just this. The Spokesperson of the IDF stated this week that the rift in itself could have been one reason the enemy saw the right time to attack us where and when it hurt as most.
The disease of constantly changing rules of the most basic constitutional principles and structures is slowly hurting the core of the functioning of the state and its democratic nature. Not even the most senior and professional judges can keep upholding principles of the rule of law if even the rules of formation of laws are ever changing or undefined. The fact that the legislative process is not ensured in a basic law with clear rules for both legislator and judiciary and with built in checks and breaks to rapid changes is creating a growth bed for constitutional crises – over and over. We deserve better than this.
It is evident that neither the left nor the right possesses the capacity to single-handedly rescue us. In the pursuit of prevailing in the battle over defining the state’s identity as either Jewish or democratic, a lasting and stable solution is unlikely to materialise without adversely affecting the cohesion of the intricate society that has evolved over the past 80 years.
The soldiers standing side by side, from Beer Sheva, Petach Tikva, Givat Shmuel, Herzelia are showing us the necessity of the common grounds and defined borders that must build the new Israel – the day after.
This transformation must emanate from the core of Israeli voters, bridging the rift, encompassing not only ideological centrists but also the central consensus of the various tribes of Israel.
Clear rules of how laws are formed, what principles that limit the legislative capacity and how this can be tested must be carved into laws. Laws that when enacted will need a broad consensus and take time to change.
If the calls for unity in Israeli society today shall bring an outcome greater than encouraging posters, the Israeli centre needs to define its borders. Who will be the true leader who will not let this momentum in Israel once again go to waste and preserve the resilience of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state.