Michael Boyden

One Step Closer to a Police State

Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported as having stated that “a country that wants to live cannot allow disobedience and anarchy”. (That sounds like Putin or Erdoğan – not the head of a liberal democracy.)

Bibi has, therefore, instructed the Chief of Staff, the Police Commissioner and the head of the General Security Services to act against those who incite.

Freedom of expression, which he calls “incitement”, is an essential feature of any healthy democracy. To trample on that right would be to turn Israel into a dictatorship.

There is a saying in Hebrew that if force doesn’t work, use more force. Only three days ago Yair Golan, a former Knesset member of the Meretz party, called for “more force” to be used in the ongoing anti-government protests.

The more the demonstrators take to the streets, the more the government will use the means at its disposal to quash them. Israel’s Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has already expressed his dissatisfaction with the police’s lack of ability or will to suppress public disorder.

It will be recalled that he himself was exempted from service by the IDF due to his extreme-right political views. Following stealing Prime Minister Rabin’s car emblem in 1995, he declared: “We got to his car, and we’ll get to him too”. This is the man entrusted with determining Israel’s police policy!

The police may use water cannons and smoke grenades to disperse protesters, but it will be much more difficult to take action against IDF reservists, who refuse to show-up in order to express their dissatisfaction with the direction in which our country is heading.

The only way out of this deadlock is through compromise. If Netanyahu does not recognize that, then he will be responsible for the consequences.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.