Whichever side of the debate they fall on, few of my fellow Israelis dispute the country is experiencing its worst societal crisis.
Only 75-years-old, the state has fought for its existence since its birth, surrounded by enemies, some of whom have turned into friends over the years.
It was, however, clear from the beginning that Israel would eventually face massive challenges due to the vastly different – often deeply contradictory – tribes making up the country.
The secular, left-wing Zionists who founded the state slowly but surely became a minority, political speaking, over the years. The 1977 election of Menachem Begin was the first real sign that Israel had changed significantly.
Begin might have been a hardcore right-winger who believed in “Greater Israel” but he never had any doubts about the importance of an independent judicial system that would protect human rights and stand independently from the government of the day.
Although one can dispute the success of the High Court in making sure Israelis enjoy equal rights, its importance was never doubted.
Certain segments in Israel’s society have long despised the High Court, seeing it as an obstacle to policies they wish to impose.
It has taken the most right-wing coalition in 75 years for the silent majority to wake up and say “enough is enough.” Poll after poll reveals that the vast majority of Israelis are against the government’s judicial overhaul.
Many secular Israelis would argue they have been “freyerim” (Hebrew for suckers) for decades, allowing ultra-Orthodox to impose laws on the entire country (no public transportation on Shabbat, no civil marriages, the right to determine who is Jewish).
These issues and the baggage they bring has finally reached boiling point.
What we are seeing now may not be an “Israeli Spring” but can be described as an “Israeli Awakening”, propelled by secular Israelis, many of whom vote for right-wing parties like Ysrael Beitenu and the National Unity Party, who despair at their country’s direction.
A country with no independent High Court, no constitution, third-rate politicians like Shas party leader Arieh Dery trying to pass personally tailored laws, allowing settlers to behave as they wish in the West Bank without consequences, and ministers who are openly homophobic and racist.
The fact that elite soldiers in the IDF reserve are openly talking about refusing to serve is perhaps the biggest indicator that something is rotten.
The IDF is the backbone of the country, an institution that never gets entangled in politics.
But when soldiers must put their lives on the line for a government with incorrigible ministers like Betzalel Smotrich who openly call on Israel to “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara, they need to know the High Court will still function as gatekeeper.
Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy once told me the biggest threat to Israel is from within. Events have proven him right.
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