Amos Malka is an anti-democrat. There are things that need to be said without shame and without fear. So let's say them: Amos Malka is an anti-democrat. He may be a decorated general, a great general, and everything that is written to his credit on Wikipedia, but that does not change the basic and conclusive fact that Amos Malka, a major general in the reserves, is an anti-democrat.
Is that rude? So perhaps we should all wean ourselves off the childish and reckless fear of generals that eats up every good part of Israel's democratic culture. Is it spicy? I think that Likud and right-wing Knesset members, including former generals, and in general right-wing voters who don't think like Amos Malka, are said in public much more serious, ugly, violent and inciting things. With all due respect, Amos Malka himself once explained that Netanyahu is "no less a threat to morality and democracy." When was that? Three years ago, on the eve of the third round elections, in March 2020. No reform was on the horizon then, but the position was recognizable from afar.
Retired Major General Amos Malka speaking at a protest against the legal reform in Haifa, photo: Herzi Shapira
So if you peel away for a moment from Amos Malka the aura of military rank, the baritone voice and the exuberance of self-confidence, you discover an anti-democrat uniform wearer, and another bully. When he warns elected officials, without confusion, that until they back down from their legitimate intention to realize their worldview in the framework of their duties, they will continue to suffer harassment, harassment and persecution – he is sending an extreme anti-democratic message, the kind that crudely unravels the threads of democracy a thousand times more than a minor change in the system of appointing judges in Israel.
Boots in front of the Knesset
Amos Malka tells himself and those around him that he is a soldier in the war for democracy. But look at what the democracy he and his friends want looks like: a democracy in which elected officials are frightened by street pressure; A democracy in which military, economic and cultural capital dictates worldviews, not the democratic conscience of citizens; a democracy in which Noel uses military ranks and resources for political blackmail; a state in which there is a balance of deterrence between militant groups of demonstrators, operating under the auspices of former senior security officials, to intimidate elected officials; A country in which people like Amos Malka exploit their prestige, status, vicarious authority, their network of connections and their diffuse influence on the centers of power in Israel to ensure that Knesset members do what Amos Malka and his friends want – and not what their voters sent them to do.
Protest against legal reform during the march in New York // Credit: Matti Tuchfeld
You could call it a struggle for democracy, gatekeepers of democracy, fighters for democracy, and any branding that PR propagandists decide to put on the sponsored signs, shirts and flags. This does not change the basic, and conclusive, fact that Amos Malka is a full, central partner and even leading an anti-democratic move, in which he puts his military boots in front of the Knesset and tells the citizens of Israel: I will make sure that your ballot has no practical meaning. I will take care to neutralize the ability of the representatives you have chosen to realize your worldview.
And yes, we've all read this chapter in civics books. It is a protest, and a protest is intended to promote or prevent change, using a wide range of tools, including force. For this there are demonstrations, and struggles, and the third sector, and civil society organizations, and opinion leaders. All of them work to influence decision-making centers. And against all of them, there is also a balance of deterrence. This is how strikes work in the economy. No government is persuaded by teachers' or nurses' arguments when they demand wage agreements; Finance ministers are frightened by the paralysis of the economy, are pushed to enter negotiations, and compromise.
Protest in front of Justice Minister Yariv Levin's home against the legal reform
But strikes are a tool used by the weak, those whose weight is usually worth less in the public arena, and without the use of leverage no one will pay attention to them. Amos Malka and his friends are not like that, quite the opposite. Amos Malka and his friends in the security and economic echelons are pulling strings of influence that an ordinary citizen, the simple voter of Simcha Rotman or Yariv Levin, can only dream of.
And when Amos Malka exploits his social advantage to try to bend Knesset members and impose his views on the public, he waves a sprout over the head of democracy. It's a tactic so contrary to the spirit of democracy and public debate that it even has a derogatory name: "ad-bellum argument," a straw argument in which the speaker threatens with a stick instead of convincing with an argument. It's a rhetorical fallacy, which is also a moral fallacy.
Sticks instead of sounds
It's a bullying culture. Just like some of its members who encourage calls for disobedience, threats of insubordination, scenarios of civil war and other intimidation: it all comes from the same place that deeply disdains controversy, rational debate, and the right of citizens to be persuaded (or not convinced) by a clear opinion rather than fear. And no wonder everything comes from the same organizational system, the operating system of which is based on orders, obedience, authority and the looming threat of penalties; A system in which the individual is expected to neutralize his position - and follow orders.
When Amos Malka exploits his social advantage to try to bend Knesset members and impose his views on the public, he waves a sprout over the head of democracy. Netanyahu and Levin, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon
That's what Amos Malka knows, and that's what he wants: for Israeli society to submit to his authority and authority. And if it does decide to stand tall, and if elected officials insist on their right and duty to realize their worldview as required in a democracy, Amos Malka will make sure that they are afraid of his sticks, those of his friends and his activists.
The deep problem is not Malka, but the political culture that will take root here if Malka and his friends succeed in subduing democracy. At this stage, it will be clear to all sides that in Israel there is no longer any point in talking, persuading, discussing. If Malka and his friends succeed in their mission to "deter" elected officials, we will enter an era in which all you need to do is hold a big stick and wave a threatening pose over your head. A democracy of sticks instead of votes.
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