Israeli liberals have been compromising for 75 years. Enough!


The word “reconciliation” transcends the battles that tear Israeli society apart now. If only the two camps would compromise, it is said, the problems of the State of Israel will magically be solved. The torrent of discourse surrounding the word “compromise” suggests that many held that Israeli liberals lived in a democratic state that reflected their values ​​before the wild legislative blitz of the new Coalition. So, now, some compromise is needed to accommodate the camp that has recently taken power.

Four huge compromises

The truth, however, is that Israel’s liberal camp has been interfering continuously since the founding of the state, for 75 years. Three of these massive compromises took place in the early years of the state. The first was the agreement that there would be no separation between religion and state, and that the Jewish religion that would take the lead as the state religion of Israel would be entirely ultra-Orthodox – the most anti-liberal dominance of Judaism.

The second compromise was the agreement to divide the education system into state and private but subsidized schools and non-religious state schools. In practice, however, the last schools serving the children of the world were, and are, surrounded by religious and nationalistic content set out by a Ministry of Education controlled by a usually illiberal minister. At the same time, within the religious schools of the ultra-orthodox, teaching mathematics and English that provide basic tools for integration in society, not to mention basic democratic education, is extremely limited or completely prohibited.

Later, what started as an agreement to support a handful of religious scholars developed into another fateful compromise, in which the liberal community financially supports the ultra-Orthodox community, despite the fact that this is an anti-democratic population with a much higher birth rate height than the rest. of the population. This group’s assertion of its mystical contribution to the well-being of the community (the claim that study of the Torah saves Israel) contradicts rational and democratic logic that would compel it to contribute to military or national service, economic productivity, or income tax. pay

We should not be confused by fake ‘unity of the people’

A fourth compromise, largely suppressed, has emerged since 1967: The willingness of the liberal public, by and large, to avert its gaze from the anti-democratic injustices inflicted on the Palestinians on a daily basis and fund the settlement enterprise and its protection despite its illegality and trampling of basic human rights related to it.

A comfortable life in a bubble

For years Israeli liberalism was held captive by the “unity of the nation” ethos that demanded compromise only from the liberal camp, by the absurd “status quo” argument on religion and state, and by the lie of the “empty cart” according to which Only religious people have values ​​they cannot abandon. Later, the right-wing government and its Finance Minister Netanyahu privatized the Israeli market under a brutal neoliberal capitalist ideology. Although this policy created huge economic gaps, it brought many liberals a dizzying wealth. Many people may now enjoy a higher standard of living than their parents, allowing a large population to live comfortably in the kind of socio-economic bubble that does not offer fertile ground for political participation and moral activism.

The continued occupation and the many Palestinians who did not abandon the idea of ​​return also took their toll. Many of them abandoned the idea of ​​peace or, even worse, became close to the concepts of Jewish supremacy and the profits that came from the occupation, coming from, among other things, the military industry and a significant segment of the sector high tech. The great economic inequalities that the Likud created and perpetuated, and the injustices of the continued occupation, poisoned the liberal camp from within, turning most of it into an apathetic camp hedonistic, unaltered by the suffering of others.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ go are up, the Israeli liberals have bypassed some of the obstacles to their reconciliation, whether through civil marriage in Cyprus, a medical certificate that allows one’s son to escape from combat military service, and service in intelligence units where the children, not only escape danger or face. the horror of the occupation regime, but also to acquire valuable human capital for the civilian market. Liberals have deluded themselves that they can go on forever like this, crying while shooting, occupying and staying a democracy for Jews, and somehow assuming that the other side will see the light of day. eventually liberalism, that feminism will convince them, and that they will recognize the value, or at least the need to participate in the labor market.

This did not happen.

In fact, the liberal camp has had to realize that not only have their values ​​not won, but that the other side is using them more and more in the service of defending the exact opposite. Thus, a racist, chauvinistic and inflammatory leadership takes terms like equality and democracy, flavored with the schmaltz of false brotherly love and Jewish unity, to mobilize Israel towards an anti-democratic religious state.

No more fake unity

The liberal camp can no longer compromise, not without forever losing its foundation. It has been jeopardizing core liberal values ​​for over seven years now, witnessing and even contributing to the collapse of the ideals of “liberty, equality, fraternity”. No democratic nation has ruled another nation for over half a century, the law does not allow civil families, and it has promised to fund an entire sector that refuses to do its part in this collective effort while sacrificing its children to poverty and ignorance.

No further compromises can be made: the liberals hardly recognize themselves as the same after the compromises already made. Now it is the turn of the anti-liberals to compromise and preserve the fragile democratic shell that remains that sustains the State of Israel. If there is no such compromise, those liberals who can seek their destiny will go abroad, and all the rest will sink into their sinful state. Without this group that is still large, educated and productive, Israel would not only be a dark place, but a place where its very existence is in danger.

To understand the depth of the compromise that the liberal community in Israel has already made since the establishment of the state, it is clear what will happen if their invitation – their plea – to build a democratic constitution is not taken seriously, or if it is only a temporary fake . “compromise” to further shrink Israel’s already strained democracy. We should not be confused by the false “unity of the people,” which has so far left the liberal camp in the Messiah’s ass.

Professor Dafna Hacker ( is a full professor in the Faculty of Law and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Tel Aviv University. Professor Yael Hashiloni-Dolev ( is a full professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University.

You are a dedicated reader

That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and Jewish life.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we have not put up a pay wall. But since the journalism we do is expensive, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help our work by joining. The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREEas well as access exclusive content available to Times of Israel Community members only.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel

Join our Community Join our Community Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this

Leave A Reply