Israel is obviously changing in front of observers. The change is most obvious from the outside: the world observes a western liberal democracy moving alarmingly quickly towards ultra-nationalism, fundamentalism, racism, fascism, and the dissolution of democratic structures as a result of the recent election.
This perspective is accurate, but it is also distorted. It is based on the supposition that Israel was a western democracy up until this point and is now clearly changing into something else. The truth, however, is that Israel needs to stop wearing masks and disguises rather than fundamentally changing.
The appearance is what is changing. Israel‘s image has some cracks, but they are not really indicative of its true nature. Only from this perspective, and only from this perspective, can the new government be seen as a sign of hope: the oppression of Palestine will end, and the frail democratic structures that had previously supported Israel’s Jews will be torn down as a result of the revelation of the truth about Israel.
The incoming administration will be Israel’s most right-wing and conservative in terms of religion. In reality, it will also be the most extremist government in the West today, at least in terms of the ideologies of the majority of its ministers. The extreme right in Israel is considerably more radical than the right in Europe, and possibly even more radical than the right in the US.
Israel will now be ruled by it, and it will hold the top positions. A very extremist government is one in which Benjamin Netanyahu is the representative of the liberal and secular.
Threats abound from every angle, including those to the justice system, minorities, an egregious increase in Jewish supremacy, the strong influence of religion in daily life, and an occupation that is growing more inhumane toward its Palestinian subjects. Which of these will actually happen is hard to predict at this early stage.
Why not Palestine?
Right-wing governments and extremist parties that came to power in Israel before already had their plans moderated for a variety of reasons. The most common response is, “Things look different from here than they did from there.”. But it is certainly conceivable that Netanyahu‘s new allies are tougher than he is and will implement the looming threat of regime change in a number of crucially important domains for Israel.
The Israeli left and center have panicked in response to the possibility of this extreme scenario coming true, especially by launching an intimidation campaign. Not a day goes by without a new doomsday prediction, and some, if not all, of these prophecies will undoubtedly come true.
However, one cannot help but wonder: Is the awaited change really so drastic? Was Israel really such a sole bulwark of democratic principles, equality before the law, the defense of human rights, and the sanctity of judicial systems that this new government could enter stage right and overthrow it all?