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Middle East

The battle for Israel’s future

Protesters in Tel Aviv in March. Jack Guez/AFP/Getty

The Israeli government is today planning to begin passing laws to neutralise the country’s Supreme Court – the one check on executive control – and gain “unlimited power” for itself, says Yuval Noah Harari in the FT. Members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition are perfectly clear about what they want to do with this power: discriminate against Arabs, women, LGBT people and atheists, and turn future elections into a mere “authoritarian ritual”. And it’s not just Israelis who could be affected by this “dictatorship”: the coalition is led by hardcore Jewish supremacists who may well “set fire to the entire Middle East”. Doing so would be “incredibly stupid”, of course. But as we learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we should never underestimate human stupidity. “It is one of the most powerful forces in history.”

The good news is that a powerful resistance movement has risen up to “save Israeli democracy”. Rejecting the ideology of Jewish supremacy and connecting with “ancient traditions of Jewish tolerance”, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets. More than 10,000 army reservists, including pilots, cyber warriors and commanders of elite units, have publicly declared that they will suspend their duty if the judicial overhaul continues. By tomorrow, the country’s famous air force may be largely grounded. Government ministers call the demonstrators and army reservists “traitors”, and demand they be crushed with force. “Israelis worry that we might be days away from civil war.” But we have no choice. It is our duty to humanity to “prevent the rise of a Jewish supremacist dictatorship”.