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Israel's Darkest Day: A War Awaits Us, Democracy Is Not Guaranteed

Ashkelon, War on Israel 2023
Ashkelon, October 7th, 2023. Photo by Yossi Zamir, Shatil Stock

The terrible events of October 7th have touched every soul in Israel. There’s hardly a person who doesn’t know someone affected by the massacre. I am no exception.

For the past 15 years, I’ve taught law at a college located in the city of Rishon LeZion. The majority of my students hail from the region spanning Gaza to Tel Aviv. Indeed, every day since Saturday, my inbox has been flooded with heartbreaking news from the college administration about a student or alum tragically lost. Many of them had attended the peace and music festival that ended in the slaughter of hundreds of innocent young lives.

A year ago, a former student reached out, asking if I would officiate his civil marriage ceremony. I was deeply honored and accepted without hesitation. He and his bride celebrated their union at the picturesque Kibbutz Be’eri, among a crowd of loved ones. This young couple made their home in Tel Aviv. Last Saturday, I texted my former student, fervently hoping they were not down south for the holiday weekend. The chilling response revealed that they were seeking safety in a shelter at Kibbutz Be’eri.

The harrowing scenes that unfolded at the Kibbutz are beyond words. More than 24 hours passed before my student informed me that he and his wife had been rescued. But somber news followed: numerous family members were unaccounted for, likely abducted to Gaza.

The Israeli Defense Force’s (IDF) failure to shield Israeli lives near Gaza was exacerbated by the sluggish, inadequate governmental support for affected families and the displaced southern Israeli populace.

The expansive Israeli cabinet, comprising over 30 ministers, was eerily silent. Not a single tweet.

After almost a year of anti-democratic legislation, channeling of huge budgets into ultra-Orthodox parties, systematic weakening of the civil service, and polarizing Israeli society — the government vanished. Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the key architect of the judicial coup, remains conspicuously silent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the nation in several brief statements, yet accepted no responsibility. Almost five days passed before he consented to form a unity government, incorporating the expertise of former IDF chiefs Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot. Gantz, with his party, agreed to align with Netanyahu only for the war's duration.

October 7th, a day marred by over 1,300 fatalities, more than 2,500 injured, and countless kidnappings — including vulnerable elderly, children, and infants — is the darkest day for the Jewish people since 1945. Still, the divisive, manipulative Netanyahu coalition persists.

Israel is bracing for a military conflict. Israel will endure, echoing Golda Meir’s sentiment that the nation’s resilience — “the secret weapon” — is fueled by the stark reality that we have no other refuge.

However, after the war, Israelis will still have to make sure that the state they are fighting for remains a liberal democracy. This is far from guaranteed.


Dr. Ido Baum is the legal commentator of the daily newspaper TheMarker. He is an associate professor of law at the Haim Striks Law Faculty at the College of Management in Israel and heads the Louis Brandeis Institute for Society, Economy, and Democracy. He is also a contributor to USA for Israeli Democracy.

1 Comment

Shani Koren
Shani Koren
Oct 14, 2023

Please don’t forget who is to be blamed for of these wars…


April 28, 2024

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