By Caroline Glick, JNS
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid has never been a high-minded politician. During his five months in power as caretaker prime minister, he tried to get the only non-leftist television station in the country thrown off the air. He called his political opponents and their voters “s**ts,” and “forces of darkness,” who have no right to exercise their legal right to oversee the actions of his lame duck government.
In the leadup to the elections, he accused Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu of being anti-democratic and warned that Netanyahu would not accept the election results if he lost.
As is invariably the case with progressive elitists like Lapid and his colleagues, it turns out that it is they who reject the basic rules of democracy and refuse to accept the results of the elections. Rather than accept that they received a drubbing at the polls and will spend the next four-and-a-half years in the opposition, Lapid and his comrades have doubled down on their demonization. They use their slanders of Netanyahu and his colleagues to raise the barricades and call for civil war.
Lapid’s opening volley came last Wednesday during the official annual memorial ceremony for Israel’s first premier, David Ben-Gurion. In his speech, Lapid used Ben-Gurion as a means to justify the statements and actions he took in the days that followed. Lapid did two things in his address: First, he totally distorted Ben-Gurion and what he stood for, and then he used his imaginary Ben-Gurion as a foil to demonize Netanyahu and his coalition partners.
Ben-Gurion of course was the leader of the Zionist revolution. He was a Jewish nationalist. He led the settlement of the Land of Israel before and after the establishment of the state. He built and led the IDF in two wars. He defied the American Jewish leadership and transformed Israel into the voice of the Jewish people and the center of Jewish life worldwide.
In his speech, Lapid invented a completely new Ben-Gurion. Lapid’s “Ben-Gurion” was not a Jewish patriot. He was a post-Zionist, woke progressive.
In Lapid’s history-defying words, “What is happening today in the State of Israel is against everything that [Ben-Gurion] believed in, all the values he inculcated in us. Presently, a new government is being formed in Israel that doesn’t believe in … equality for women or for LGBT people; not in diplomatic equality; not in social equality; and certainly not in equality for people who aren’t Jewish. This is the government that was elected democratically, but wants to destroy democracy.”
Having stigmatized Netanyahu and his coalition partners as anti-democratic threats to everything that is good and pure, Lapid spent the days that followed rallying Israel’s deep state to reject the authority of the incoming government and rebel against it. According to a report in Haaretz, Lapid met with the IDF General Staff to delegitimize Netanyahu and his colleagues. In an exchange with one general, Lapid reportedly called for the IDF to revolt against the incoming Netanyahu government by preventing it from “gaining control over the military.”
Last Friday, Lapid sent an open letter to mayors and heads of local councils throughout Israel. He exhorted them “not to cooperate” with the incoming government’s education policies.
Lapid told the local leaders “to protect the liberal … school system that we have had to date.” They should do so, he wrote, by “utiliz[ing] the local governments’ right to dictate the character of education within its boundaries.”
“You must now serve as gatekeepers,” he told them.
When Netanyahu exclaimed that Lapid is inciting a rebellion against his government in the IDF and the local governments, Lapid responded, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
This week, Lapid called for a million people to take to the streets this weekend to start off the rebellion.
Lapid isn’t operating alone. Four former IDF chiefs of staff—Moshe Yaalon, Gadi Eisenkot, Ehud Barak and Dan Halutz—have also called for a million protesters. Halutz warned that Israel is moving towards a civil war.
Mayors and heads of local councils have jumped on Lapid’s train.
Eisenkot’s boss in the Stateliness Party—outgoing Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz—announced he is setting up a special “forum” to organize opposition to the government. He accused Netanyahu’s coalition partners of building “private armies” and “private militias.” The incoming government, he insisted, would “destroy” the IDF, the legal system and the education system of the country, and that he and his colleagues will go into the streets and cause a political earthquake.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut has also joined the elitist mob setting up a showdown with the incoming government. On Tuesday, Hayut rejected out of hand any legal reform that would place checks on the Court’s powers.
Tricks up their sleeves
The incoming government has signaled its intention to reform the judicial selection process. Currently, judges at all levels are selected by a committee controlled by Supreme Court justices. The incoming government’s plans will seize that power from the justices and place it in the hands of Israel’s elected leaders, in keeping with the principle of separation of powers as practiced in most democracies.
Hayut said, “Our allegiance as judges is to the entire Israeli public and to every individual who comprises it. But our mission as the trustees of the entire public is impossible to fulfill without the preservation of the basic principles that are the life blood of every judicial authority in a democracy, and I mean the independence—and the non-judicial dependence—both personal and institutional [on politicians].”
The same day, court reporters aligned with Israel’s legal fraternity warned that Hayut and her colleagues have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. And if they feel the need to resort to them, it will be very unpleasant for the Netanyahu government.
The head of Israel’s Bar Association, Avi Himi, joined the call for a million Israelis to revolt against the still unformed, democratically elected government in order to save democracy.
It is important to note that there is nothing racist, homophobic or misogynist about the government’s planned educational reforms. The issues in question are almost identical to those that have compelled American parents to revolt against their local school boards over the woke indoctrination of their children.
The supposed cause of the left’s calls for a civil revolt is Netanyahu’s coalition agreement with Noam Party leader Avi Maoz. Noam’s platform is almost entirely devoted to ending woke, post-Zionist indoctrination of Israeli schoolchildren. That indoctrination has been undertaken through a little-known department in the Education Ministry called “The Unit for External Programs and Advancement of Partnerships.”
The unit oversees the outsourcing of enrichment programs to NGOs. According to an investigation by Channel 14, the vast majority of these NGOs engage in programming related to gender, feminism, LGBT issues, Arab minority communities, illegal immigrants, environmental issues and other red button subjects for woke organizations. A small minority of the NGOs are concerned with Jewish or Zionist history, religion or identity.
Under the coalition deal struck between Likud and Noam, Netanyahu transferred the unit to the Prime Minister’s Office, where Maoz will serve as a deputy minister responsible for overseeing the programming. It should be noted that, according to the Channel 14 report, under the outgoing government, the number of programs undertaken by NGOs jumped from some 3,300 to more than 23,000.
Maoz’s plan is to make the information on the organizations involved open to the public, letting parents know who is involved in educating their children and what their goals are. Netanyahu, for his part, has stated repeatedly since the elections that the legal rights of Israel’s LGBT community will remain unchanged under his government.
In other words, the hysteria that the left is ginning up is based on false accusations against Netanyahu and his partners. Its goal is to demonize and delegitimize the government before it is even sworn in and to destabilize the country for the duration of its tenure in office, while subverting the government’s ability to make policies or carry them out both through public action and through revolt of Israel’s bureaucratic elite in the military, the legal fraternity, the education system and the municipalities. These efforts, in turn, will be legitimized by the media.
Consequences already felt abroad
The consequences of the Lapid-led campaign are already being felt abroad. In the U.S., Israel’s antagonists in the Washington foreign policy establishment and in the Jewish community are using it to justify calling for the Biden administration to adopt a hostile policy towards Israel.
In an op-ed published last week in The Washington Post, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer and former Middle East peace envoy Aaron David Miller denounced the incoming government in terms that were identical to those used by Lapid, Gantz and their colleagues. Based on those denunciations, Kurtzer and Miller castigated the still-to-be-established government as “democratically elected but possessing anti-democratic values inimical to U.S. interests.”
As a consequence, they called for the U.S. to impose a partial arms embargo on Israel; throw Israel to the antisemitic jackals at the UN and the International Criminal Court; and punish Morocco, Bahrain, the UAE and Sudan for signing normalization agreements with Israel in the framework of the Abraham Accords.
Miller and Kurtzer are prominent in liberal Jewish circles that dominate Jewish life in America. Their message was picked up by their colleagues. Former ADL National Director Abe Foxman told The Jerusalem Post that if the incoming Netanyahu government goes ahead with its legal reform agenda and other planned policies, he will no longer support Israel.
The ADL and the Union for Reform Judaism have issued statements condemning the incoming government along the lines Lapid and his colleagues have libelously set out.
Since the election, Netanyahu has only given a few interviews—all to foreign media. In each of his appearances, Netanyahu devoted a significant portion of his remarks to dispelling the utterly fake allegations Lapid and his colleagues are making. His government will not be fascist, homophobic, misogynist or racist.
Coalition talks are winding down. By all accounts Netanyahu and his ministers will be sworn into office in a week to 10 days. And when that happens, we can expect the demonization to escalate still further, and be repeated and trumpeted by the media and Israel’s antagonists in the West.
Lapid and his colleagues are acting like pyromaniacs divvying up kindling, matches and kerosene. But what they most resemble are spoiled children in the middle of a tantrum. The best thing for Netanyahu and his colleagues to do under the circumstances is to be grownups.
They should delegate responsibility for defending the government against the campaign of demonization at home and abroad to competent spokesmen, and move quickly and earnestly to implement the legal, bureaucratic, law enforcement and educational reforms for which they were elected and without which they will be unable to govern.
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.