Confrontation between MK Efrat Raiten and MK Simcha Rothman in the Constitution Committee, January 16, 2023 (Knesset Channel)
Three weeks is almost an eternity in terms of our burning news feed, certainly in these days when it seems like every day brings with it a different bombshell headline.
Still, somewhere in the middle of January there was a brief phase in which a segment from "The Mechanism" - Shaul Amsterdamski's vlog from Beit Kaan 11 - became viral on social networks.
The interviewee, the chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Simcha Rothman, unfolds a theory in front of the embarrassed moderator that creates a clear dichotomy between "left-wing films" and "right-wing films". Thus, according to Rothman, "Avatar" is a left-wing film because it deals with In anti-colonialism and in the theory of the "noble savage" of the "leftist" Rousseau. On the other hand, "The Lord of the Rings" is a classic right-wing film that presents good and bad, without confusion and doubts.
Returning to this seemingly endearing moment is important to understand the character of Rothman, the real engine behind the governing revolution that the new government seeks to bring about, and the one who signed the bill in a much stricter version than the one presented by Justice Minister Yariv Levin at the press conference where the plan was first revealed.
Rothman is a character who speaks in well-staged sound bytes and dramatization (and also makes sure to cut them immediately and share them with all his might on his social platforms), that when you come to examine them in depth you realize how quickly they crumble.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory, like quite a few complex positions on human nature, cannot really be gathered under one political position.
In practice, her ideas were used for worldviews from the right and also for worldviews from the left.
However, the specific part that Rothman pointed out, while he was disgusted by the lack of knowledge that Amsterdamski demonstrated, is not only not left-wing but corresponds almost one to one with Avi Maoz's positions.
Rousseau argued that when humans were savages they were better creatures and lived more useful lives, while Western progress, progress, led them to engage in sin.
And he didn't stop there: Rousseau supported the will of the majority even at the expense of the minority and its rights, and this also sounds familiar and not quite from the left side of the map.
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On the other side is "The Lord of the Rings" by G.
Tolkien, a work born out of the writer's aversion to wars and the attempt to escape into a world of legends and fantasies.
In a famous quote from "The Two Towers", Paramir, the character Tolkien based on his own experiences in the First World War, explains: "War is a necessity as we defend our lives against a destroyer that threatens to devour us. But I do not like the sharpness of the bright sword, or the speed of the arrow or the The glory of the warrior. I only love what they protect."
It is hard to find a more leftist text in "Avatar".
The plot of "The Lord of the Rings" describes a meticulous process of corruption of the various kingdoms in Middle-earth by Sauron, primarily the human kingdoms, through power and greed embodied in the rings of power.
Not exactly a right-wing sentiment.
And in general, if we take Rothman's definition of a "classic right-wing film", "Avatar" also meets it precisely: there are clearly good and bad people in it, the Nabi are the righteous,
Greedy humans and corporations are the villains.
There are no compromises and no contradictions.
So is "Avatar" even right-wing and "Lord of the Rings" left-wing?
That is not the question at all, of course.
And Rothman doesn't really care either.
This is the smallest distortion that rolls into this rather amazing interview with Amsterdamski.
Among other things, he notes that the fact that two ministers and a prime minister suspected of being criminals are authorized (or at least allowed) to be elected and serve, is evidence of the excellent state of the Israeli public and the lack of trust in the justice system.
And while it is true that trust in the system has weakened alarmingly in recent years, and of course this has nothing to do with the defamation campaign conducted by Rothman and his friends against it, trust in the Knesset and the parties is even lower.
From this confrontation, Rothman came out with a pseudo-scholarly theory that achieved two key things: the humiliation of the other side, in this case Amsterdamski as a representative of the left, and the portrayal as an expert who illuminates the "hidden truth" under the veil of lies of an imagined elite.
This recurring pattern makes Rothman a symbol of the current right-wing approach to the weakening media: a combination of force and lies.
Like many other trends, Rothman's also came to us from the American right.
Entire networks whose entire function is to generate theories, "ask questions" and invent enemies, just so they can resonate and engage with them until they become the property of the mainstream.
Take, for example, the interview that Rothman gave to "Sefi Vinir" on IDF airwaves. The two presenters in total dared to ask the opinion of a senior person in the coalition for the horrific attack on the News 13 team in Jerusalem. Rothman, in response, cracked the "I shout louder than you" strategy and signaled Familiar enemy: waving Palestinian Authority flags at protests in Tel Aviv.
This game where right-wing people look for the one flag among the thousands of other flags in every demonstration, in order to "prove" the blood plot for supporting the killers of Jews, is known and known.
But Rothman goes a step further: for him the attack did not happen.
He didn't know, he didn't hear.
And why not?
After long minutes of shouting and zero condemnation, Sefi Ovadia asked to "turn down the flames" and move on to talking about what Rothman wanted in the first place.
Where else have we seen this method in our context?
In a video recently published by one of the great gurus of the American alt-right, and who is sanctified by his Israeli counterparts: Ben Shapiro.
In a video that was immediately retweeted by all the immediate suspects, led by the prime minister, Shapiro told a long line of outright lies.
Among other things: the Israeli court takes advantage of the lack of a constitution to enact laws on its own and become a dictatorship, a group of unelected oligarchs makes decisions on national security issues, and the selection of judges in Israel is done by the president of the country based on a list he receives from liberal judges.
Netanyahu, as usual, realized too late the magnitude of the mistake and deleted the retweet, which did not prevent many rightists from continuing to echo the words.
But the point here is the method: a combination of lies and force, the same tools of Rothman.
With the announcement of the program, Levin and Rothman were quick to say that there will be discussions to which experts from all sides will be invited, and these will be heard "with an open heart and a willing mind".
In practice, those who watched even some of the discussions discovered the same familiar method.
Time and time again, Rothman interrupts the speakers (with the kind help of Tali Gottlieb, a bear that cares about me, who is all human love), slaps them with lies, and in one case is even heard threatening the committee's legal advisor just because he dared to pass an opinion that did not align with the chairman's line At the same time, Rothman uses every platform to promote his books on "high court rule", and refers those who argue against him to them again and again.
This is exactly Shapiro's method: read my lie, accept it as truth, and now there is no more discussion.
The problem is that the committee and those who are lucky enough to work on it, cannot really rebel against Rothman's dictatorial rules of the game.
This will be evidenced by the massive expenses from the courtroom, the inability to express opposing positions, and again, the too implicit feeling that whoever annoys the power drunk at the head of the table will be hurt.
In recent days, the threats have also spread to the President of the Supreme Court, to workers' committees and high-tech people.
But media outlets and journalists who talk to Rothman are not bound by these restrictions and there is no reason for them to agree to them.
There is also no reason for them to agree to smile shyly while the man lies and belittles them, just to prove how superior he is to them because of their "inherent leftism".
Let's start with the facts: in the State of Israel the judges do not choose themselves.
No matter how many times Rothman repeats this lie, it will not become the truth.
The committee for selecting judges includes three judges (including the President of the Supreme Court), two ministers (one of them the Minister of Justice), two members of the Knesset and two representatives to the Bar Association.
Both politicians and judges have a right of veto.
A majority of seven out of nine is required to appoint a judge, so in any case the selection of a candidate must be made by broad agreement of all members.
This model in which the judges belong to a body that elects their colleagues, or are involved in the selection process, is accepted in many other countries in the world (including Great Britain, Belgium, the USA and Canada). No country in the world has a model in which the government exclusively controls the selection process with seven appointments under its control to the selection committee , as Rothman's bill states.
In addition, and despite repeating this over and over again, the Israeli public does not have the authority to pardon crimes.
Choosing a person convicted of crimes does not allow him to clear himself of his actions, only because enough people are willing to turn a blind eye to them.
It should be clarified: Aryeh Deri used his power three times as an elected official to defraud the public purse, the last time at a total rate of no less than two million shekels.
It is difficult to find a more clear and distinct violation of public trust.
If this is democracy, let's open the gates of the prisons, and allow all those sitting in them to run for the Knesset.
Whoever is elected will receive an immediate pardon and a High Court judge who will clean his house. And whoever isn't? Will be hanged. He doesn't have the public's trust anyway. It's even possible to turn the whole thing into a successful reality show format: the hangman in a mask.
Simcha Rothman (photo: screenshot, News 14)
Dealing with Rothman is not only about facts, but about a method of operation.
Outwardly shouting and lying and inwardly working with organizations such as the Kehalat Forum, who write extreme bills for him and recently, according to an advertisement in Haaretz, even created a local model of the Federalist Society, with the aim of cultivating loyal right-wing jurists in order to occupy the court with their help the top
This system has led the US to a situation where a woman's right to her body is no longer protected by the court, and this is just the beginning.
A few days ago, my friend Amit Salonim wrote here about the decision of the "Haaretz" newspaper to stop publishing Gadi Taub's column in the newspaper.
He then claimed that the move was wrong and against Haaretz's pluralistic worldview and temple of democracy, and as usual he was right.
But Taub, like Rothman, advocates the same tools: he slanders and abuses from every stage and every platform, spices it up with lies and falsehoods, and wraps himself in his right to go up and say them from the same platforms that he slanders.
It is indeed democracy in the romantic sense of "I don't agree with a word you say, but I will fight for your right to say them", but in the cases of Rothman and Taub it is a shot in the foot - no less.
The rules of the media game cannot exist in a vacuum.
An interview or publication of a text by a politician or a columnist cannot pass under any conditions, and only because he has the right to speak his words.
If he lies, threatens, persecutes professionals trying to do their job, incites or distorts reality, it is the duty of journalists to stand up for themselves.
Not because of their honor, but because bowing down to people like Rothman leads to the continued flow of lies in the public consciousness.
If Rothman "didn't hear or see" the attack on News 13 employees, he would be honored to go off the air, watch an iron fence being thrown over a journalist's head, and come back.
If he lied about a "sect that chooses itself", the interviewer will be honored and will blame him and the viewers or listeners for the mistake.
And if he invented a current hateful theory about cinema - it is also possible not to treat it as a joke.
Because democracy does not end with elections, and we are not amazing there either.
Democracy ends when those who come to dismantle it feel that they are alone on the field.
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