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Historian Yuval Noah Harari warns of dictatorship in Israel

Yuval Noah Harari on the threat to democracy in Israel
Yuval Noah Harari on the threat to democracy in Israel 02:34

After another week of anti-government protests in Israel, our commentary comes from noted author and historian Yuval Noah Harari, who explains why he thinks Israel is at a tipping point – and why that's a concern for us all:

As a proud citizen of Israel, I am deeply concerned that my government is trying to establish a dictatorship.

Many dictatorships in history were established not by tanks firing in the streets, but by signing papers behind closed doors. By the time people understood what was happening, it was too late to resist.

To understand what is happening in Israel, you need to ask just one question: What limits the power of the government?

In the U.S.A., there is an entire system of checks and balances. In Israel, we have no constitution, no Senate, no federal structure, and no other check on the power of the central government, except one: the Supreme Court.

Now the government is trying to gain control of the Supreme Court. If it succeeds, there will be no mechanism that limits its power. Coalition members have already proposed numerous laws and regulations that discriminate against Muslims, Christians, women, LGBTQ people and secular people. They are only waiting to take control of the Supreme Court, and then they could unleash this dictatorial flood.

Protesters block the road at the Hemed overpass during a
Protesters block the road at the Hemed overpass during a demonstration against the government's controversial judicial reform plans, July 11, 2023. Protests broke out after a bill to remove the power of the Supreme Court to review ministers' decisions passed its first reading in parliament Monday night.  Eyal Warshavsky/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Also, with the Supreme Court neutralized, the government could easily rig the elections – for example, by denying Arab citizens voting rights, or by closing down all independent media outlets. Israel will still hold elections, just as Russia holds elections, but it will become a dictatorship.

This should be a grave concern, not just to Americans who care about democracy or about the Jewish people. The U.S.A. might soon have to deal with a new militaristic dictatorship in the Middle East, armed not only with nuclear capabilities, but also with advanced cyber-weapons able to strike anywhere in the world.

The people of Israel are struggling to save our democracy. Please, stand with us.

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Story produced by Robbyn McFadden. Editor: Emanuele Secci. 

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