By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
Israel is a marvellous country and I deem it a privilege to live here as a citizen. But nowadays the Jewish state is seriously (I hope not irreparably) marred by a terrible government. Perhaps it’s even more menacing than our hostile and volatile neighbours. As the Hebrew Prophets have often said, the greatest damage we’ve inflicted on ourselves in Biblical times has been – by ourselves. I hope we’re not repeating it now.
Though the majority voted for different right-wing parties it may not have foreseen the consequences of several of them forming the present coalition the members of which seem to be pushing each other to ever more extreme positions.
The situation in the Jewish West Bank town of Bet El provides an apt and very sad illustration. Settlers there erected two buildings on privately owned Palestinian land for which, of course, they never received a permit. An Israeli organization petitioned the Supreme Court which ordered the demolition of the structures. After manipulative delays the order was scheduled to be executed before the end of this month. A last-minute appeal by settlers was rejected.
It’s bad enough that the settlers protested and confronted Israel’s security forces earlier this week in clashes that led to arrests. But several cabinet ministers came out to ostensibly support them – thus tacitly expressing opposition to the decision of the Supreme Court! Even the minister of justice is rumoured to have favoured the illegal would-be occupants instead of assiduously defending the Court.
Aside #1: Through skillful manipulation the Knesset managed to vote in right-wing representatives to the committee that will elect future Supreme Court judges. Between them they’ll be able to block any appointment of a liberal candidate or an Arab.
Aside #2: Homes built illegally by Palestinians are being often demolished, allegedly because Israeli bureaucracy makes it almost impossible for them to get permits. Recently, even the United States government and the European Union appealed on behalf of the Palestinians.
To return to the subject: On July 29 the two buildings in Bet El were finally razed to the ground. On the face of it, it’s good news. However, at the same time the government also announced that it has given permission for hundreds of settler homes to be built in Bet El and even more in East Jerusalem to compensate for the loss of the two buildings.
The government is obviously two-faced: while it purports to uphold the law it also subverts it. In this case the letter of the law has been preserved but the spirit of the law has been perverted – by the elected government of Israel – in order to pacify the settlers who’re well represented in the coalition.
This prompts an unorthodox reflection: The Palestinians don’t seem to want to talk peace with those currently in power in Israel. But, judging by its antics in Bet El and elsewhere is the Government of Israel willing to make peace? Or does it prefer the status quo and to divert our attention by relentlessly lashing out against the Iran deal?
P.S. An apology: my previous peace spelled “raising to the ground” when it should have been “razing to the ground.” I seem to need an editor and/or more English classes.