Opinion“Do not go gentle into that good night”
“Do not go gentle into that good night”
“We need a determined war for democracy,” Calcalist Publisher Yoel Esteron called for in his opening remarks at Calcalist’s 2023 Forecasts Conference. “The main thing is to not be afraid”
How are you this morning? Excited and full of hope for the new government? Worried? Frightened? Who thinks that Israeli democracy is in danger? Who thinks that everything is fine, and what was in the past will also be in the future? Who still hasn't decided if they are worried or calm? I would like to appeal to the worried, and I am one of the worried, and to the frightened - and I am not frightened.
I say to the worried and frightened, almost in the words of Dylan Thomas: don't go gently into that good night. Do not go quietly into the black night of the crushing of democracy; of the distortion of the balances and checks essential to proper governance; of the violation of equality before the law and civil rights; of racism, homophobia and misogyny. Don't let the destroyers of democracy confuse us with unfounded accusations of rebellion and sedition. Don't let them gaslight us with the nonsense that ‘the people have had their say’. Remind them again and again of the obvious: democracy is not a blank check for the majority to abuse the minority.
One can hope that the next year will make it clear to the various neo-Kahanists that they are not the majority. Because next year Israel's essential test is not a confrontation between right and left, but between the democrats and those who hate democracy. Indeed, according to all indications, the majority of Jews in Israel have moved to the right in recent decades. Indeed, the Israeli left has shrunk. However, the secular and traditionalists who form the Israeli majority - left, center, and part of the right - prefer to live in a democracy. Likud voters and even some Ben-Gvir voters did not choose to give up their civil rights either. They certainly don't want to work and pay taxes to support those who evade service, work and taxes.
Unfortunately, next year will be gloriously bad. Disillusionment will take time. 2023 will be a lost year, maybe 2024 too, disillusionment will be bitter and painful but it will come. What should be done until then? Instead of panicking, we need a determined war for democracy. Each person will fight on their own front. The gatekeepers will guard the gate. The public servants will serve the public, not the unrestrained politicians. We do not need the heroic resignations of judges, legal advisors, police officers, members of the Shin Bet, senior public service officials, teachers, and doctors. Are you gatekeepers? Fight for the gate. Public servants? Serve the public. If you receive "obviously illegal" orders, or are given instructions and directives that harm democracy, raise a black flag. Don't agree, don't bend, don't cower.
The business community must also bravely mobilize for war. Every CEO and every entrepreneur understands that disabled democracies harm the economy and growth. Don't slack off, don't be afraid. This is of course also a call to my colleagues in the press and radio and television studios: don't slack off, don't be afraid.
In the Knesset, in the courts, in the workplaces, in businesses, in the schools, in the public space, in the streets and squares, women and men must fight together against any attempt to harm equality between women and men. The fight of the LGBT people for their rights belongs to all decent people. Do not leave them alone. Fighting the terrible crime in the Arab sector - does not mean permission to criminally harass the Arab citizens just because they are Arabs.
Don't go gently into the black night. We will not go silent into the black night. And the main thing is not to be afraid at all. The anti-democratic government is trying to scare us, but we, the democrats, are not a marginal group that can be crushed. We, the Israelis who want to live in a democracy, must make it clear to them: that's it. We're not going anywhere, we are not threatening to leave the country. We will hold on to any post. Democracy will win. The main thing is not to be afraid at all.
Yoel Esteron is the Publisher of Calcalist