Where Is the Statesmanship and Decorum We Deserve?
Protesters attend a massive demonstration against planned judicial reforms in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem on Feb. 13, 2023. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Where Is the Statesmanship and Decorum We Deserve?

Ma’ariv, Israel, March 9

Amid the discourse of a possible civil war, it appears that some members of the Israeli government have forgotten their duty to the public that elected them into office – and have launched a full-fledged war against the cohesion of our society. This assault is not leveled against all citizens; only those who do not support their decisions and are demonstrating against them. It appears that those in power, including in the Knesset and even the prime minister, are vying to see who can be the most vile and insulting. While it is true that protesters can sometimes be uncivil and make inflammatory statements, a minister or prime minister is not allowed to do the same given their formal positions. A member of the government in the State of Israel should be expected to maintain a different style than that of an average demonstrator on the street. It is essential to show responsibility, especially when the targets of criticism are citizens of this country. Sadly, instead of attempting to quell the tensions in the streets, some ministers are exacerbating the situation by fanning the flames. Minister Shlomo Karhi’s call for reservist fighter pilots to “go to hell” after they declared they would not show up for training – though they later showed up for an open dialogue about the situation – is just one example of the hard and blunt epithets hurled at protesters by members of the Israeli government. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu drew a link between peaceful protesters in Tel Aviv and those committing serious riots in a Palestinian village, while Information Minister Galit Distal Atbaryan called IDF reservists a “bunch of cowards.” The prime minister’s son, Yair Netanyahu, labeled the demonstrators “terrorists.” The harsh language used by parts of the government toward Israeli citizens reflects a deep loathing of those who dare to challenge the Netanyahu coalition. It is impossible to ignore the tragedy of the situation: Those who insult former Shin Bet chiefs, former senior military commanders, and present and former pilots who have risked their lives for Israel, are part of a coalition that includes many people who have not completed their mandatory military service. This does not stop them from attacking those who pay their taxes and contribute to the economy more than the average citizen. Furthermore, a government minister has no right to speak in such a disrespectful manner about the armed forces, whether they be fighter pilots, combat soldiers, or even office workers. Criticism and protest are both justified and necessary when it comes to decisions made by those who put their lives on the line for the sake of the country. However, it is only fair that the politicians who are making those decisions show a minimum of respect to those they expect to carry out orders. It is even more important that they demonstrate a sense of statesmanship and decorum, rather than resorting to derogatory language. – Anat Moshe (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)


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