Israel’s New Government Flies in the Face of the Country’s Western Critics

June 17, 2021 | Shany Mor
About the author: Shany Mor is a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute and a research fellow at the Chaikin Center for Geostrategy and the Herzl Institute for the Study of Zionism, both at the University of Haifa.

Commenting on the recent swearing-in of the new governing coalition in Jerusalem, Shany Mor writes:

If there is one picture that speaks to the emptiness of the progressive vilification of Israeli society and Israeli democracy, it is the group portrait of Israel’s new cabinet.

In the photo, 27 ministers are arrayed around President Reuven Rivlin. They range in age from thirty-seven to seventy-four. Nine are women. One sits in a wheelchair. It might be hard to see in the photo, but three are observant Jewish men with yarmulkes on their heads. Two are Arabs, one Druze and one Muslim. Five are immigrants, born in Ethiopia, Morocco, and the former Soviet Union.

It’s worth emphasizing that this astonishingly diverse cabinet isn’t assembled, in the style of a U.S. president’s cabinet, under the direction of one leader who might (or might not) be trying to present an image of diversity. These ministers are the top parliamentarians of the parties that entered the coalition. They are not there because of tacky tokenism or pressure from what Bill Clinton famously called “the bean counters.” They are diverse because the Israelis are diverse, and they are picked from a diverse parliament because the Israelis elected a diverse parliament.

In spaces where Israel is held to be the ultimate irredeemable sinner of “white settler colonialism”—usually by people who are themselves white and very reluctant to forgo any of their own “privilege”—such a photo cannot possibly make sense. It will likely be ignored.

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