"Mr. Netanyahu, don't be the prime minister who will realize the dream of your enemies
The reform of the judicial system proposed by the government exposes the State of Israel to a fracture of the national community as well as of the Diaspora and to the weakening of its diplomatic and economic positions, is alarming, in an article published in "Le Monde", the chairman of the supervisory board of Publicis Group.
Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the Diaspora has supported with all its might this state born on the ashes of millions of Jews and built with the blood and sweat of millions of others, convinced that only its construction would allow them to be free. Free to be Jews in all their diversity: observant or secular. Joined by immigrants from all over the world, driven by the same conviction or fleeing from the filthy beast that is anti-Semitism, all these citizens have committed themselves in a determined way to this fragile state, but strong in its people, its desire to live and the solidarity of the Diaspora. Their dream? To build a state with exemplary values: democratic, social justice, sharing and courage.
And Israel has been exemplary in more than one way: the bravery of peasant-soldiers, the resistance of a people who would no longer allow themselves to be humiliated, or even annihilated, the military genius that enabled them to emerge victorious from imposed wars in which the numerical superiority of their enemies made them fear the worst. But also the kibbutz, the agricultural engineering, the sciences, the research, the culture, the generosity of its social programs, despite the impoverished state of the country, and, much later, the "start-up nation".
Does this mean that the State of Israel is perfect? No, there are still too many injustices, too many difficulties and, above all, the attempts at peace have not been successful. The fate of the Palestinians remains a problem for which a solution can only be found in the respect and dignity of all. The security of the State and its citizens remains a major concern: there are still neighbors who openly want the destruction of the State of Israel. We must never forget this. Its economy, brilliant though it has few natural resources, is driven by the hard work and genius of the Israelis. Its achievements are to be admired, both in the field of education, with its exceptional universities, open to all, and in the crucible of training and integration that is the IDF.
Two major risks
Despite its shortcomings, the State of Israel has indeed risen to an exemplary level compared to many other countries, including among Western democracies, and this despite a hostile, harsh environment, a life of constraints imposed by daily terrorism. Two great values have served as pillars for the construction of the State of Israel: unity - despite the divisions (don't they say that if you put two Jews to debate, you would have at least three opinions?) and a flawless democracy. Although sometimes complicated by the list system, this democracy has raised to a dogma, respected as much as the Tables of the Law, the separation of powers: the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, not to mention the fourth power, the press, whose freedom of criticism is impressive. This is why all Israeli prime ministers, including Benyamin Netanyahu, have held up the banner of this democracy, the only one in the region.
Today, the State of Israel is running two major risks, with incalculable damage if the reform of the judicial system proposed by the government were to be passed as it stands. On the one hand, a fracture within the national community, but also within the Diaspora, and on the other hand, a weakening of its diplomatic and economic positions.
The fracture? The word is not too strong. The incessant demonstrations, bringing together all social categories, which continue unabated in Israel, are already a reflection of the ruptures, the divisions and, yes, the fractures within a people who have so many other battles to fight. Within the Diaspora, there are opposing viewpoints that are difficult to reconcile during heated discussions.
The dangers facing the State of Israel are great: peace is making some progress, but there is still no lasting solution with the Palestinians, who should be the first interlocutors, and terrorism is present, on a daily basis, as well as the ideal of destruction that animates certain neighbors. And there is no lack of internal divisions. Therefore, internal unity and solidarity with the diaspora should be a treasure to be preserved, as precious as the more than five thousand years of history of this people.
Weakening? First of all, it is a matter of image, and I hope you will forgive me for this personal remark: I know how difficult it is to build an image and how quickly it can be damaged. The values of democracy and justice are attached to Israel, they form a shield as powerful as that of David. They allow this State, so controversial, so attacked, to be admired for its capacity for integration, tolerance, openness to others, and (sometimes excessive) rigor in the respect of each power. This is a considerable capital that Israel possesses.
I have always refrained from publicly discussing the policies of the State of Israel, a country that I love in its rich diversity, that I support for its survival, for peace with its neighbors; a country that I also support in its various teaching and research activities and in its noble struggles, particularly against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism and hatred.
Today I say: Mr. Netanyahu, although many find your actions controversial, you have accomplished a great deal for Israel, its security, its modernity, its economy in particular. Do not be the divisive Prime Minister, the one who will fracture the Jewish community around the world and create irreparable rifts among your fellow citizens. Don't be the one who will damage, or even destroy, a part of Israel's image to the point of handicapping its diplomacy and its economy. Do not be the Prime Minister who will realize the dream of your enemies: to weaken Israel's diplomatic positions. Stand up against this law and you will go down in Israeli history as the man of the "Abrahamic Accords" and the man who preserved the treasure that is Israeli democracy.
Maurice Lévy is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Publicis Group, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Peres Center for Peace (Tel Aviv-Jaffa) and a director of the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel).