The summer of reckoning for Israel’s democracy

This summer, we are witnessing some of the first very tangible weather events affected by Global warming throughout the word: Heat waves, fires, floods, the planet is showing the signs that many scientists or politicians had warned us about for years and for many people this is the time to finally come up with the inconvenient truth so accurately described by former Vice President Al Gore. Global warming is real, and it is a major threat.

This summer will also be remembered as a time of reckoning for the  Israeli democracy, and a sense of reckoning among liberal Israelis or liberal Zionists that this country’s turn for the worse is real, and serious. This is here also a very inconvenient truth that must be dealt with.

Like for global warming, some people had warned us long ago that this day would come. People like Yeshayahu Leibowitz but also intellectuals like Grossman and Amos Oz or politicians such as Rabin had warned us about the danger of the occupation, the equivalent of fossil fuels: convenient in the short term, but toxic and with very damaging long-term consequences. Those people had warned us that the Israeli democracy would be slowly eroded until the point of no return, and here we are. The occupation is today a fact, an established reality, and it has thereby changed the character of state

This permanent occupation, together with the political strength of the settlers,  pushes the State of Israel to consolidate the Jewish character of the state, even if it means weakening its democratic nature, in order to address the looming demographic threat that 2.5 million Palestinians living in the territories represent.

The nation-state law that has infuriated so many liberal Israelis and progressive Jews in the world is precisely the latest and most visible attempts by the right-wing Israeli government to alter the democratic nature of the State of Israel, together with its repeated assaults on the independence of the Supreme Court or on the free press.

The Nation-State law or the appointment of a semi-qualified right-wing judge, Alex Stein, to the Supreme Court would have been unimaginable a few years ago but the sad truth is that we are entrenched in a reality it is too late to alter, and with its bad consequences happening in front of our very eyes.

Like for global warming, there are many deniers of the occupation: either ultra-right wing extremists for whom there is no occupation, or the majority of the people that minimize the effects of this occupation and thereby fail to address and confront it.

The facts are stubborn, both for climate change and for the occupation. We may choose to deny or minimize them but there’s simply no escaping the reality of the situation, and in both cases our failure to address this now will only make the situation impossible to handle for the future generations.

About the Author
French-Israeli business executive living in New York.
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