Human beings are adaptable creatures. We prefer tranquility and security over noise and uncertainty, especially during the hot Israeli summer. This can explain why we tend to react mildly to something that should merit a stronger response. A Native American saying goes, "If you don't pay attention to whispers, they'll turn into shouts."
So, we didn't pay attention when the person who established an organization to track down unfamiliar village residents in the Negev led a procession of animals in Jerusalem. He stated that Ben Gurion's mistake was not finishing off the Arabs in 1948, defended his wife who didn't want to share a hospital room with Arab women, and called for the destruction of a village and all its residents. He eventually gained control over our public funds.
We also didn't raise our voices when he transformed the territories of the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, for the first time ever, into Israeli civilian territories rather than ones under the authority of the Defense Minister. The clear implication is the de facto annexation of the occupied territories and around three million Palestinians lacking rights within them.
We also turn a blind eye when this individual leads a coalition that brings convicted criminals and supporters of terrorism into the government and Knesset, alongside rabbis, Knesset members, aides, and faction heads. It's not surprising that those accused of racially motivated murders receive a warm embrace. Support for Jewish terrorism. What a shame and disgrace. And all under the banner of "Religious Zionism." I am proud of my guidance and partnership in Bnei Akiva. How can one bear the misuse implied of the title "religious Zionism"?
Our Treasury Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, no longer needs to conceal all of these things. He no longer needs to hide behind the one who appointed him (and was pushed by him, thanks to Bennett and Shaked), and tell us what an excellent transportation minister he was (for half a year, come on…). Now he's withholding funds from the most impoverished authorities in Israel. Why? Because they are Arab. Now he's canceling education budgets for the marginalized population of East Jerusalem. Why? Because they are Arab.
As someone who grew up in the Mafdal party, which vanished this week into the faction of the Treasury Minister and into the Likud areas, which has turned into the party of fear and silence, it hurts even more. In the 1980s, Likud marginalized racism in the Knesset and outlawed Kach. In 2023, they are embracing them strongly and bowing down to them. How do I know? Because the Likud government is proposing high education budgets for East Jerusalem. Because the mayor, on the Likud's behalf, thinks it's a grave mistake to cancel them. How do I know? Because Netanyahu and his office led the 5-year plan for the Arab society. When Smotrich speaks about the 'anti-Zionists' who received the funds, for the benefit of the poorest authorities in Israel, the people who made that decision, led by the Prime Minister, remain silent and hide.
Especially before the days of Elul, the days of self-reflection, it should be stated clearly: a political bloc that would behave in such a manner towards Jews/Blacks/Women/LGBT (and fill in the gaps) in any other country would be given a very clear label, related to the darkest periods of humanity and our people. Just as we pointed fingers Haider, Le Pen, and their likes in many countries. In Israel of 2023, these actions are considered legitimate, turning into restrained and calculated public discourse.
As someone rooted in development towns, from a beloved right-wing family, and connected to voters of all parties, including this bloc, I say – there's a limit. These individuals need to be isolated and shunned. Not the large audience that voted for them. Not the electorate in the development towns (in Sderot, my city, in which a quarter of the voters voted for them), but they themselves. Because of universal morality. Because of Jewish history. And because of the biblical Jewish morality that repeatedly demands us to love the stranger. Because of our prophets' vision that demands us to embrace the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow, to embrace the weakest in our society.
I pray for a complete and sincere repentance from these individuals. The path of the wicked shall perish. However, we cannot wait. Over light, it is said, light will come. For hatred, destruction, and racism, we call them by their names. Without flinching. And thus, we will begin the necessary repair for all of us in Israeli society.
The author is the founder of the Periphery movement, CEO of Kol Rabani for Human Rights and a rabbinical student at the Hartman Institute