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The plagues have returned to Israel. The Netanyahu government was sworn in on December 29, 2022; the government is the most right-wing government and the most religious government since Israel was created in 1948. The coalition government consists of six parties: Likud, United Torah Judaism (a Haredi, religious, political alliance), Shas (a Haredi, religious, political party), the Religious Zionist Party (a far-right, religious, Zionist, political party), Otzma Yehudit (a far-right, anti-Arab political party), and Noam (a far-right, religious, Zionist, political party).
The plagues are the following:
The religious parties want to change the definition of Jewishness in the Law of Return. I wrote a column about it a couple of weeks ago; you can look it up.
Netanyahu’s coalition is also targeting the Israeli Supreme Court, which has historically been strong and sometimes interventionist, as well as Israel’s independent media. Anshell Pfeffer, a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and Israel correspondent for The Economist says, “What Netanyahu’s new government is doing is basically eroding those strong elements of Israeli democracy, the issues of separation of powers, the fact that the courts could intervene and say what the government is doing is illegal and therefore the government has to stop.” Pfeffer says, “All these things are weakening those elements of Israeli democracy, which were and have been traditionally very strong, and that is certainly a threat to Israeli democracy.” (Israel’s highest court ruled that the Netanyahu’s interior minister, Aryeh Deri, should be fired, principally because he had recently been convicted of tax fraud and received a suspended prison sentence. Last week, Netanyahu fired Deri in compliance with the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying that Deri was his most trusted advisor.)
The new government’s attitude toward Arabs, both Israeli citizens and Palestinians, will be harsher, and it will have a more aggressive military posture toward West Bank Palestinians.
Like the Biblical plagues that haunted the Egyptians, the government’s policies will haunt Israel. Time will tell, but I’m not hopeful.