Talia Kainan

Law OR Order

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at IDF Officers Course graduation, June 28, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at IDF Officers Course graduation, June 28, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Some may remember, that in the beginning of this government’s rule, way back when, the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi was interviewed and asked – do you prefer dictatorship or anarchy? The question implicitly tried to glean Halevi’s political loyalty, to the people or the politicians. Halevi answered at the time that he prefers dictatorship, later apologizing over a sentiment that some analysts understood: as a general, he’d rather hate his orders than have no idea who to take them from.

Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at IDF Officers Course graduation, June 28, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Unfortunately, it seems that we might be dealt neither clarity nor morals. The social contract has been voided to such an extent that the media needed Netanyahu to declare explicitly – ultimately, he would still respect the rule of law.

Despite the distrust the government sows in the courts, they continue to pass law after law, hurtling towards the most international criticism possible. Weakening courts? Child play. Disrespecting freedom of speech and the right to protest? Now considered a moderate and pragmatic stance. These have already brought upon us as a nation the threat of important contributors to the public leaving the country. There has been loud noise around the idea of doctors choosing to leave and searching other avenues, as well as many hi-tech workers relocating.

As per usual, Israel has been receiving generous coverage internationally for an internal issue. Pictures of Netanyahu conferring with other MKs appeared widely across the news, as well as gratuitous photos of the protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem following the vote to pass the bill canceling the Reasonableness Clause. Despite the wild pushback, the MKs behind the judicial reform have promised that this is only the beginning – additional rewriting of our unwritten agreements to follow.

Beside the strong judicial agenda, many of the bills on the Knesset’s table at the moment reflect the characteristics of the members sitting and voting in the coalition. The most recent law, defining cross-nationality rape (a.k.a “nationalistically driven”) as a crime against the State of Israel as well, has been firmly criticized as making women’s bodies a battlefield, and treating same-nationality rape as less harmful. Many reporters went further and pointed out that this does nothing to address the main issues surrounding rape on the national level – the red tape around investigations, the difficulty to receive medical care after the fact and the terrible lack of available mental health professionals.

This is not the only bill that has recently passed with racial overtones – right after voting on the Reasonableness Clause, a law for acceptance boards was passed. This allows communities that include over 500 families to create acceptance boards that may discuss and even bar others from moving to said community. Effectively, this may be used to ban Arabs from moving to Jewish areas with legal backing.

It seems that the masses are displeased with the Opposition’s lackluster work to prevent the government’s racist and sexist agenda. Recently we have seen CEOs of major government offices quit in protest of the corrupt practices of their higher-ups, grassroots movements growing as the fight continues, and even the most strict of organizations, the IDF, has made public statements disapproving of the words of government officials.

I remember a time in my service, where in a complex situation we would wait for the government response, and then continue with their policy as handed down. Today, it seems that even the public responses between the branches of government are at odds.

Rather than enacting public order, one of the government’s major campaign promises, we are living through confusing times of mismatched actions and unraveling of social contracts. The careful weaving of our people’s military and divisive government is fraying at the edges. It seems that despite Halevi’s best wishes, he no longer has the choice- instead, in his term he has inherited both anarchy and dictatorship.

About the Author
Talia is currently a law student at Hebrew University and served in the International Branch of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. Born and raised in Jerusalem.
Related Topics
Related Posts