Who will be the next victim of the attack on the Israeli democracy? When will each one of us be targeted personally?
After many years of service in the Israeli government, as well as in civic society and as a proud alumnus of the Israel – Wexner program, I feel it is my duty to warn about the current attack on democracy and the public sector in Israel.
The media is rife with libel and slandering accusations on the Wexner Foundation, which has made a major contribution to the professionalism of the public sector in Israel for over 3 decades.
Similar to attacks on the judiciary and the free press, attacks on the civil service, especially Wexner alumni are part of the same dangerous agenda to replace the liberal democracy, as was manifested in the Israeli Declaration of Independence with a system devoid of checks and balances, separation of branches and a free press, where there is no place for criticism or respect for the rights of minorities.
Daily in the traditional as well as the social media we are witnessing claims about a contemptable left-wing elite operating in Israel as a “deep state”, whose goal is removal from office via non-democratic means, a Prime Minister who was duly elected by the public.
Already we heard that the attorney general (who was appointed by the current Prime Minister and came from the same ideological home) is a member in that elite cult, as are the previous chief of police (who was also appointed by the current PM) and the justices of the Supreme court who have all sworn allegiance to this left-wing conspiracy in opposition to the will of the Israeli public.
Recently the Wexner Foundation whose goal is to promote professional Jewish leadership in the US and Israel, became targets of this attack. Alumni of the Wexner program in Israel include the current General Chief of Staff of the IDF (who was appointed by the current PM), the former military adviser of the current PM, managers of major hospitals in Israel and numerous leaders in the Israeli public sector and civil society, the IDF, the Intelligence, as well as many others are all being branded as enemies of Israeli society.
It is important to point out to those unfamiliar with the alumni of the program, that these are a group of patriotic civil servants who chose a public career out of a passion and commitment to public service, who were elected through due process. The office of the Civil Services Commission is a partner in the process. The criteria for their selection include professional excellence, as well as the ability to be promoted to a managerial office after being accepted by the Kennedy School of government. Throughout this process there is no mention of political persuasions.
Why is the Wexner Foundation targeted at this time? What is the connection to the conspiracy? One reason could be that many of our alumni act in very high-level positions in the Supreme Court, in the office of the Attorney General and the police force, so that they are involved with investigations into the corruption cases that the PM is accused of. However, the “sins” of the Foundation are graver, according to this lunatic conspiracy theory.
According to them, the Wexner Foundation "claims" to improve the public sector is Israel with the best academic tools in the world. In keeping with the conspiracy theory, the Foundation in its audacity, is empowering these bureaucrats, to abduct the State of Israel from the elected officials and instill the country with malicious norms that they learned in Harvard.
According to the conspiracy theory, Lesley Wexner, one of the most generous philanthropists in America, who has dedicated a great portion of his wealth to promotion of Jewish leadership, has decided to dominate the Israeli democracy. Lesley Wexner who for years contributed to the GOP and who was advised by Netanyahu prior to opening the Israeli program, is suddenly branded a supporter of the “left-wing contemptable elite”. The faculty of the Kennedy School for Government, many of whom served in Republican administrations were turned into “radical leftists”.
Elements from the radical right in Israel have joined the global trend of populism, promoted by Steve Bannon and his likes in America, that became successful in Hungary, Brazil, The Philippines and others. This populism attempts to define democracy as a regime with no limits, certainly not a liberal democracy, as happens to be the case with the current right-wing government in Israel.
For full disclosure I am a proud member of the left wing. As a full-fledged Zionist, I view the liberal left in our country as the most precise and patriotic manifestation of the Zionism of the founding mothers and fathers of Israel both from the Labor movement and the Revisionist movement. However, the Wexner alumni community is as diverse as Israeli society as a whole, so that many of my friends and colleagues from the alumni body are right wing voters, who had no idea that they are leftists, until they became pawns in the slander campaign of these radical right elements who oppose the Israeli democracy.
It is both critical and urgent that we wake up and understand that at the end of the day, this witch hunt will reach all of us. To save the democracy in our beloved country now is the time to act.
When they attacked human rights organizations, I did nothing because I’m not a leftist.
When they attacked the judicial branch, I did nothing because I am not a judge.
When the attacked the free press, I did nothing because I am not a journalist.
And now that they attack us there is no one left to do something.
The writer is Nadav Tamir, Chair of the Wexner – Israel alumni Association, He was chosen to the Wexner fellowship on 2003, served for many years as an Israeli diplomat – in the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, as Consul General to New England, as adviser to 3 foreign ministers and as the diplomatic adviser to the 9th President of Israel – Shimon Peres.