Mainstream

Home > 2021 > Another Right-Winger Gone: Historic Beginning In Israel | Vijay (...)

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 27, New Delhi, June 19, 2021

Another Right-Winger Gone: Historic Beginning In Israel | Vijay Kumar

Friday 18 June 2021

by Vijay Kumar

Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel, and last spell being uninterrupted 12 years, and who dominated Israel politics like colossus in last 25 years, is finally ousted from power by otherwise shaky coalition of United Arab List Party led by Mansour Abbas, Yamina Party led by present Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett and the largest of the group Yesh Atid Party led by Yair Lapid with wafer-thin majority of 60 to 59 in Knesset. The present coalition is historic because it is the first time in history of Israel that Arab Party representing Arab Muslims has joined the Government. After the defeat of Donald Trump, notorious right- winger, who promoted white supermacism in which only the white matters and none else, the defeat of Benjamin Netanyahu, who converted the secular Israel into Jewish State, is an occasion for guarded celebration. Like the defeat of Trump in US, the exit of Netanyahu is extremely positive development for rule based international order and peace in West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Like all right-wingers ever since the days of Adolf Hitler, Benjamin Netanyahu started his regime by impairing the credibility of the institution; be it media, judiciary or election commission. Democracy thrives not on the cult of personality, but on the strength of impersonal rule enforced vigorously by robustly independent judiciary, election commission and also other institutions and through bold and interpretive watchdog role of media. It is in the gene of all right-wingers to debilitate institutions and its independent and autonomous functioning, and thereby destroy the democracy.

Yair Lapid is the main architect of this coalition. He was the leader of one of the two largest groups, but he sublimated his ego and personal ambition and forged alliance with Arab League Party of Mansoor Abbas and another right-winger, the present Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Yair Lapid has shown visionary leadership by propping up the coalition government of disparate groups. On the face of it, this coalition is extremely fragile and no one can predict the durability of this arrangement. But the very fact that three parties with radically different ideologies joined hands means that ideology has taken a back seat and pragmatism is the bedrock on which this disparate coalition is formed. This pragmatism will ensure that the Government will not be hostage to ideological blinker.

In Indian context, I have been writing consistently since 2014 that era of coalition government, which started from V.P. Singh becoming Prime Minister in December 1989 till 2014, was the finest moment for Indian democracy. All the institutions from Supreme Court to High Courts to Election Commission to Comptroller and Auditor General functioned with sturdy independence. Media too performed its watchdog role without fear of being slapped with the charge of sedition and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). And to top it all, the coalition era from 1990 to 2014 was exceptionally brightest phase for federalism. During this period, none of the State complained that it was being crushed by the Central Government, which was the common refrain during Congress hegemony, particularly during Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi time during 1970s and 1980s and under the present hegemony of BJP since 2014. Incidentally ,even economy did very well, particularly between 1991 to 2009. The brute majority of one party has always been associated with democratic deficit. It follows, ex hypothesi, the coalition government is more representative, accountable and democratic. The coalition government is politically resilient , economically egalitarian and socially inclusive, and since it represents different groups, it is most effective antidote to majoritarianism with which Israel was suffering from under the authoritarian spell of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The very presence of Netanyahu was threat to peace. Like Trump, he showed contempt for norms of International Law and refused to comply with the order of International Court of Justice. The crass arrogance, crude brazenness, uncouth behavior and gross impropriety on the part of Netanyahu were on the full display when he humiliated Barrack Obama for refusing to stall Iran deal by conniving with Republican, who was then controlling the Congress, and addressing the US Congress in which he made frontal attack on sitting American president for signing Iran deal.

The right-wing politics is a toxic combination of naked and unchecked profiteering of selected big corporate houses and ethnic majoritarianism, and this hideous phenomenon came to the fore during the regime of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump, and is flourishing in Brazil under Bolsonaro, Hungry, Poland and India. Whether the delicate arrangement in Israel will last or not is hazardous to predict, but the departure of Benjamin Netanyahu as a rank right- winger is extremely redeeming feature, and the progressive, enlightened and inclusive politics, opposed to the lethal combination of capitalism and majoritarianism, must use the historic opportunity for consolidatiing and generating a counter hegemonic force.

(Vijay Kumar, Advocate, Supreme Court of India)

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted