Dr. Doron Matza, a former senior Shin Bet official who lectures at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, on Monday wrote in Makor Rishon that the demonstrations on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv are just a smoke screen for the real coup on the part of the IDF, the police, the state attorney’s office, the universities, and many other components of Israel’s civil society. According to Matza, the consequences of the government’s lack of control as an executive authority over these institutions are long-term.
At this point, on March 27, 2023, it is unclear whether Israel is entering its own version of a civil war. But what’s clear, according to Dr. Matza, is that the coalition government is not facing only a very hostile opposition and well-organized and financed demonstrators, but also the entire state apparatus without which you can’t run the country.
“The public protest is not the point,” writes Dr. Matza. “The truth is that it is very limited, although it gets a lot of resonance for obvious reasons. At the heart of the matter is the other protest. The one that is not physically wrapped in the country’s flags, but actually goes against it. At first, it started as an unspoken protest. It was hinted at, partly disguised, but now it becomes explicit, visible, and dangerous. It is a protest of the establishments that have a clear influence on everyday practices.”
Here are the symptoms of an establishment that’s openly rebelling against the country’s elected majority government, according to Matza: The heads of the universities decided to take the students captive and shut down studies. Of course, they didn’t ask who supports or opposes the judicial reform – it was taken for granted that everyone was against it. The Histadrut trade union’s leadership is shutting down the economy, also without asking the members. The state attorney’s office has been operating for a long time as an independent entity, free to set traps for elected officials, using illegal spyware and brutal interrogations, occasionally of sickly and elderly relatives of witnesses.
Similar phenomena have permeated the security system as well. And the army, too, is politicized, as can be seen from its feeble treatment of insubordinate reservists. The same goes for the police who have been treating outrageously violent protesters with kid gloves and paused to smile for selfies.
“Large parts of the public systems and large establishments have not only become politically polluted, but they are the ones who define the agenda without the government having any control over them nor the ability to lead the country with them,” writes Matza.