In 1992, economist Francis Fukuyama released his renowned book, End of history. The title was wonderful, the concept was absurd. Riding the wave of euphoria that swept the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Fukuyama argued that the world had entered a new era, an era of peace, prosperity and security and that the Western liberal democracy would prevail this era. If wars were launched, they would be local and manageable. According to the economist, history and its turmoil were redundant and we were all doomed to die of boredom.
People are born and die, governments rise and fall but history is forever. It teaches us, usually the hard way, that nothing is eternal, nothing is guaranteed. The era that Fukuyama proclaimed was nothing more than a short-term illusion. If he proved something, it is that a catchy title, a simplistic idea and good timing can build a very successful career. Don't be right, don’t be wise, just sound smart. Sometimes that's enough.
The euphoria of the early 1990s has transformed into depression. The new year will begin, as every year, with fireworks and kisses as the clock will strike midnight, but the depression won't go away. Western countries are in deep, political, moral and economic crisis. And whether we like it or not, this crisis is also knocking on our door.
The manifestations of this crisis are known: globalization and technology have brought the world together, but also pose difficulties for a shared existence. The world’s wealth is greater than ever, but is unfairly divided. The middle class, which is the spine of any modern society, sees its job security eroding and its support for democracy is shrinking. The stream of immigrants flocking from third world countries undermines the sense of identity in Western countries and brings anti-democratic, racist and violent movements back to the center stage.
Populist and separatist politicians have risen to power, bringing down international alliances that have stabilized and strengthened the West since the end of World War II. Social media enables immediate and affordable communication, but it also betrays its users and the democratic values that led to its existence. Russia, and China, two non-democratic superpowers, are doing a good job in sabotaging the national strength of Western countries without firing even s single shot.
US President Donald Trump and his "Trumpism" are not the cause of this phenomenon, they are the result. Like flu in the winter, this virus can infect anybody, including those who got their jab. Nonetheless, it is still advisable to get vaccinated.
There are readers who ask me why I slam Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked's court appointments, including appointments for the High Court of Justice. After all, she is such a serious and respectable minister. I'm also asked why I think disaster would strike if some High Court judges had the same political stance as Shaked.
People also wonder what is so terrible in bill proposals that facilitate the theft of private land, or the expulsion of terrorists' families. They ask what I want from the supporters of former IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter after shooting dead a neutralized terrorist in Hebron, and why it pains me that a series of laws are passed in an attempt to perpetuate the rule of one person as prime minister.
I have one answer to that: the virus does not stop in the White House. Look what is happening in Italy, Hungary, and Poland. Look at the political chaos in London and Paris. Those countries are hanging off a cliff and we cannot be dragged to the precipice too.
Israel was not always part of the West. In the first years of its existence, there was a harsh dispute about the place of the Jewish state in the world. Some considered the Soviet Union as a role model and argued Israel should be part of the Soviet Union bloc. Some were impressed by non-aligned nations like India, and Yugoslavia. David Ben-Gurion turned to the West—first to France and Germany, and later to the United States.
Israel’s economic method has gradually changed— government companies were
privatized, and for better or for worse, the American model won.
There is nobody in Israel who aspires to establish a Soviet regime, not even the veterans of the Israeli Communist Party or the Hadash party.
Only the Right puts the democratic rules of the game at risk. There are Israeli politicians for whom keeping a grip on the West Bank is more important than Israel existing as a country in which the law prevails. And there those who try to imitate Trump's blatant, uninhibited rhetoric.
This mixture transformed the Bayit Yehudi party — a niche faction — into a leading force in determining government policies.
This is the bad news. The good news is that there is no other alternative to the liberal Western democracy. The Israelis will not accept any other regime, not in Tel Aviv, not in Jerusalem, not in Ma'ale Adumim, and not in Bnei Brak.
The West will recover, history will see to that. Our job is to make sure we don't catch the virus until that happens.