The Best Time of Our Lives

The topic for discussion at the meeting last week was ‘Which time of your life would you like to go back to?’ During the pandemic the group of people who meet everey two weeks to engage in German conversation held Zoom meetings instead of physical ones, and this still persists. Most of the participants are men and women in their seventies or eightees who have retired from employed work, and so it seems safer to remain at home for these meetings.

I was one of the first to reply, and I declared that here and now is the best time of my life. In my teenage years I suffered from social isolation, heartache and physical discomfort. Once I moved to Israel my situation changed, but those years of having to cope with three young children, trying to work as a freelance translator and also enduring bouts of illness that obliged me to undergo surgery and kept me in hospital for weeks at a time were not easy. Add to that the financial constraints that affect most young families, and I sometimes wonder, looking back, how I managed to remain sane at the time. At least, I hope I did.

But now my children (and even my grandchildren) are grown, and my husband and I are free to attend concerts or films without having to feel guilty or take a babysitter, our financial situation has improved, and my health situation is under control. The world around me has its problems, but for the moment they are not on my immediate doorstep. My home is warm and dry, we have plenty to eat, can see friends and family from time to time, and our children and grandchildren come for Friday-night dinner every two weeks. So now is definitely the best time of my life.

As the discussion continued other people expressed similar views. One of them stressed that being free from the constraints of work he has time to read, watch films and TV, and of course I agree with that. Another participant talked about pursuing his hobbies of painting and writing, in which he is able to engage even more actively now than before. That is the case for me too, as I’ve managed to write eight books since retiring from work. Some people talked about their travels or their voluntary work, and others about being involved in researching and writing their family history. Almost everybody agreed that, physical limitations apart, this is the best time of their life.

That triggered a general discussion about the importance of writing about our life for the benefit of our offspring, of keeping a record of who the previous generations had been, what they had done and how they had lived. Many of those involved had documents, correspondence and diaries of previous generations, and acknowledged that  they were probably the last individuals in their family with knowledge of the German language and hence able to access those records. Suddenly, we were all confronted with the heavy responsibility that lay on our shoulders of making the lives of our parents and grandparents accessible to our children and grandchildren, and all the future generations. I hope to be able to do something about it at some point in the future.

And nobody wanted to go back in time.

The Mahler Experience

The music of Gustav Mahler is not everyone’s cup of tea, and this applies especially to his later works, starting with his sixth symphony. However. at last week’s concert given by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Leon Botstein, the auditorium was packed, evidently with people for whom Mahler’s music was to their liking.

Almost everything Mahler wrote has a distinctive character of its own as well as bearing a common thread of composition and orchestration that is evident in them all. The first five symphonies are generally melodious, with references to folk music, popular tunes or songs composed by Mahler himself. Anyone familiar with his music will almost instantly recognize an unfamiliar piece of music written by him, because of his idiosyncratic use of the brass or wind instruments, rhythmic element or deployment of tympani.

At last week’s concert Maestro Botstein spoke a few words of welcome in Hebrew before proceeding in English to explain the nature of the evening’s program – an arrangement by Mahler of a Bach suite followed by his symphony no.6, placing them both in the context of Mahler’s life and career, his position in turn-of-the-century Vienna and his subsequent move to the U.S.A.

The symphony starts with a heavy, rhythmic thumping sound in a low register, seeming to describe the ominous marching of an army, before taking off into higher spheres with the introduction of the other instruments of the orchestra. Being a conductor as well as a composer, Mahler seems almost to go out of his way to use every conceivable instrument ever invented as suitable for inclusion in a symphony orchestra – as well as some that aren’t. Mahler’s impoverished childhood home in Bohemia was situated near to a military barracks, so that the sounds emanating from there evidently constituted a formative influence on him, one that can be heard in many of his symphonies – trumpet calls, rattling drums and shrieking whistles.

In later life Mahler spent summers in the Austrian countryside, and themes representing the pastoral atmosphere and his enjoyment of it recur in many of his symphonies. In last night’s performance the sound of cowbells could be heard from time to time, bringing a simple, earthbound element into a world of noise that thrashed and whirled around the auditorium with frenetic energy.

As the four movements of the symphony progressed, with very little melodic charm and a greater amount of dissonance than is customary even in Mahler’s work, the mood shifted from ominous apprehension to brazen defiance. Near the end of the piece one of the several tympanists raised a huge wooden hammer aloft then brought it down on the floor with an enormous crash, repeating this feat of physical and aural assault one more time. Nobody was hurt, but the message was not a happy one. I was left wondering what Mahler was trying to say. Was he apprehensive as to what the future held? Was he a visionary? Or was he simply depressed?

I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to Mahler’s music as a small child, when my father would put the record of his first symphony on our family gramophone and explain the music to me. I feel at home with most of Mahler’s music, but I must admit that though his sixth symphony is not easy on the ear, having been able to hear it performed live is an audio-visual experience I will always remember.

Theological Thuggery

The following mission statement (in Hebrew), together with a photograph of the (orthodox) politician behind it, appeared in large letters on the front cover of the weekend edition of the Hebrew newspaper, Haaretz, last week. It is unusual for text to be featured on the front cover, but in this instance the editor obviously felt it was sufficiently important (and horrifying) to be brought to the forefront of the reader’s attention. Below is my translation of the text:

“Our banner is one of unambiguous war on progress. The status-quo has to be changed, ensuring that Judaism is acknowledged in every corner of the life of the State. Israel will be a country that observes the Sabbath in public, homosexual families will not be given recognition, and women will not serve in the army; their contribution will be to marry and produce a family. We will not be like countries that are for all their citizens. Heaven forfend. The values of Judaism supersede all individual rights. Look, I’m getting tools and budgets, I’m here to work, and we will clean up the public systems. Watch me, I’m patient, this is just the beginning of the beginning.”

The minister behind this statement is a newly-elected member of the Knesset, representing a tiny party, Noam, which adheres to the orthodox version of the Jewish religion and seeks to impose those views on the entire country. The remit he has taken on himself is to impose the teaching of Jewish subjects in all schools, whether they belong to the religious stream or not.

In order to form a firm coalition which will be able to drive through the various legal and policy changes he plans to introduce (and keep his ongoing trial for corruption at bay), Binyamin Netanyahu has gathered together an assortment of politicians representing parties on the extreme right of the spectrum as well as others who adhere to the fundamentalist version of Judaism. Some of them combine both aspects into a single ideology, making for a toxic mix of individuals who adhere to concepts, values and mores that are based on texts and ideas dating back to ancient times.

But the fact of the matter is that the majority of Israelis are not orthodox Jews. Most Israelis are happy to use electricity on the Sabbath, or drive their car to go to the sea or enjoy a picnic in the countryside. Most Israelis are equally happy to celebrate the various religious festivals that mark the year, each family or individual doing it in their own way, adhering to some form of tradition (focusing mainly on food) but not feeling bound to observe all the niceties of orthodox observance. The general atmosphere in the country at the time of such festivals as Sukkot, Pesach (Passover) or the High Holidays, is one of unity in awareness and celebration but not of strict adherence to the rules and regulations with which orthodox Jews (within which category there are also many variations) choose to mark those events.

As Netanyahu’s government seeks to proceed with its attempt to radically change the face of Israeli society, introducing drastic changes in the legal system and imposing laws which undermine the basic principles of equality and decency laid down in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, a growing backlash is beginning to emerge, with mass demonstrations throughout the country. It remains to be seen if anyone in the government will pay attention to the growing groundswell of opposition to the theological thuggery that is rearing its ugly head.

The Roman Mosaic in Lod

Generous American donors have provided the money to build a museum honouring Shelby White and Leon Levy, to house in situ the huge mosaic dating from the Roman occupation of ancient Judaea. The town of Lod (Lydda) has been inhabited for millennia, and is mentioned in the Bible (the book of Nehemia) as Bikat Ono, where Sanblat of Horon offered to meet Nehemia. During the Hasmonean revolt, which began in nearby Modiin, Jonathan the Hasmonean liberated Lod from Hellenic rule. During Herod’s rule Lod continued to serve as a metropolin centre, known by the Romans as Diospolis (city of the gods), playing an important role until the destruction of the Second Temple.

Under Byzantine rule Lod became an important centre of Christianity, serving as the residence of prominent bishops and where one of the earliest churches, dedicated to the town’s patron saint, St. George (of dragon-slaying fame), was constructed. The town is shown on the Medeba map, where it is given its three names, Lod, Lydda, Dispolis. In the seventh century C.E. it was conquered by the Moslems, who built the new town of Ramle close by. Today the two towns form a conurbation. In 1948, following the War of Independence, it became part of Israel.

In 1996 the mosaic was discovered by chance in the course of construction work in the town intended to widen one of the roads. When fully exposed, the mosaic – one of the largest ever found anywhere in the world – was identified as dating from the late third or early fourth century C.E. It measures seventeen meters long and nine meters wide, and is perfectly preserved almost in its entirety, depicting animals, fish and fowl both local and from Africa. It is not known who was the wealthy Roman who owned the grand house in which it formed part of the floor of the main reception room.

After its discovery the mosaic travelled extensively, being exhibited in some of the foremost museums in the word, including the New York Metropolitan Museum, the Paris Louvre, the Alter Museum in Berlin and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The Mosaic Museum in Lod has been built expressly to display the mosaic to its best advantage, with a raised viewing parapet enabling visitors to inspect it at close quarters and from every angle.

During our visit to the museum, our guide, a local Arab resident wearing traditional garb and speaking fluent Hebrew, pointed out the salient details of the mosaic’s colouring and composition, as well as demonstrating to us, with the aid of plaques on the wall, the process of layering that preceded the final stage of its construction. She mentioned with regret that at the time of the riots two years earlier, in 2020, involving the inhabitants of Lod-Ramle and other towns with mixed Jewish and Arab populations, the exterior windows of the museum were damaged, but the interior of the museum remained unharmed.

A series of displays in an interior wall displays scenes of the history of the town of Lod from ancient times to today. Surprisingly, the final display is set in 1935 and shows a plane of the ‘Palestine Airways’ landing in Jordan. There is an empty space beside it, and I personally hope that a depiction of the modern town, which is in Israel, will take its rightful place there and that this deficiency will be amended.

Dark Clouds Overhead

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It’s here. The government that we feared has actually come into being, and has been sworn in. Over 30 ministers, almost all of them adhering to an ideology that is the direct opposite of the liberal democratic principles on which Israel was founded, have been appointed. Not only is the new-old prime minister currently on trial for corruption and fraud, several other ministers have been arraigned (and convicted) in the past for sedition, fraud and embezzlement. The avowed intention of the new coalition government is to emasculate the judicial system and introduce legislation based on fundamentalist orthodox Judaism.

It’s known that politicians all over the world tend to be individuals whose relationship with the truth is tenuous at best, but the current assortment of ministers seems to be particularly at odds with such ideas as honesty, respect for the law and adherence to moral principles. The fact that many of the ministers are orthodox Jews does not serve to guarantee their uprightness, and if anything proves the opposite.

The absurdity of appointing as Health Minister a man who has actually served time in jail for fraud and embezzlement would be laughable if it wasn’t so distressing. He supposedly adheres to the principles of orthodox Judaism, but obviously his interpretation of such biblical injunctions as ‘thou shalt not steal,’ and ‘thou shalt not bear false witness,’ are different from mine (and most decent people’s). After all, in the plea bargain he negotiated at his last trial (and as a result of which his sentence was commuted to one which kept him out of jail for a second term) he promised not to go back into politics. So how are we to believe anything he says, whether in private or in public?

The bullying, illegal and insensitive tactics employed in the past by the individual who is now the Minister of National Security have gained him a following among those who think that this kind of behaviour is the right way to behave in this day and age. Like him, they have before them the examples of contemporary and past politicians worldwide who have risen to power by using a combination of populism, rabble-rousing rhetoric, manipulation and force. The changes in the law that this minister and his colleagues have proposed for the new government bode ill for the future of democracy, equality and decency in Israel. Inter alia, they seek to legalise discrimination on the basis of ethnic, political or gender preferences, as well as entrenching in law the discrimination against women that is inherent in orthodox Judaism.

Another member of the new government seeks to introduce a law entitling doctors, nurses and medical practitioners of all kinds, as well as purveyors of retail services, to refuse to provide their services to others because of differences of religion, ethnic group or sexual preference. This particular female politician is apparently unaware of the Hippocratic Oath sworn by all medical practitioners since ancient times, as well as of the indisputable fact that a leading member of the new government is an acknowledged homosexual.

The idea that Israel is about to be dragged back into the bigotry, prejudice and misogyny of the Dark Ages is a cause of concern for large segments of Israel’s population, including some who voted for the parties now constituting the government. Firms, associations and groups throughout the country are issuing statements proclaiming their rejection of these policies, petitions are being signed on a wholescale basis and we are already seeing demonstrations protesting this travesty of Israel’s guiding principles.

Dark Clouds Overhead

.

It’s here. The government that we feared has actually come into being, and has been sworn in. Over 30 ministers, almost all of them adhering to an ideology that is the direct opposite of the liberal democratic principles on which Israel was founded, have been appointed. Not only is the new-old prime minister currently on trial for corruption and fraud, several other ministers have been arraigned (and convicted) in the past for sedition, fraud and embezzlement. The avowed intention of the new coalition government is to emasculate the judicial system and introduce legislation based on fundamentalist orthodox Judaism.

It’s known that politicians all over the world tend to be individuals whose relationship with the truth is tenuous at best, but the current assortment of ministers seems to be particularly at odds with such ideas as honesty, respect for the law and adherence to moral principles. The fact that many of the ministers are orthodox Jews does not serve to guarantee their uprightness, and if anything proves the opposite to be the case.

The absurdity of appointing as Finance Minister a man who has actually served time in jail for fraud and embezzlement would be laughable if it wasn’t so distressing. He supposedly adheres to the principles of orthodox Judaism, but obviously his interpretation of such biblical injunctions as ‘thou shalt not steal,’ and ‘thou shalt not bear false witness,’ are different from mine (and most decent people’s). After all, in the plea bargain he negotiated at his last trial (and as a result of which his sentence was commuted to one which kept him out of jail for a second term) he promised not to go back into politics. So how are we to believe anything he says, whether in private or in public?

The bullying, illegal and insensitive tactics employed in the past by the individual who is now the Minister of Homeland Defence have gained him a following among those who think that this kind of behaviour is the right way to behave in this day and age. Like him, they have before them the examples of contemporary and past politicians worldwide who have risen to power by using a combination of populism, rabble-rousing rhetoric, manipulation and force. The changes in the law that this minister and his colleagues have imposed on the new government bode ill for the future of democracy, equality and decency in Israel. Inter alia, they propose to legalise discrimination on the basis of ethnic, political or gender preferences, as well as entrenching in law the discrimination against women that is inherent in orthodox Judaism.

Another member of the new government seeks to introduce a law entitling doctors, nurses and medical practitioners of all kinds, as well as purveyors of retail services, to refuse to provide their services to others because of differences of religion, ethnic group or sexual preference. This particular female politician is apparently unaware of the Hippocratic Oath sworn by all medical practitioners since ancient times, as well as of the indisputable fact that a leading member of the new government is an acknowledged homosexual.

The idea that Israel is being dragged back into the bigotry, prejudice and misogyny of the Dark Ages is a cause of concern for large segments of Israel’s population, including some who voted for the parties now constituting the government. Firms, associations and groups throughout the country are issuing statements proclaiming their rejection of these policies, petitions are being signed on a wholescale basis and we are already seeing demonstrations protesting this travesty of Israel’s guiding principles.

Good Money (Kesef Tov)

This book in Hebrew by Shaul Amsterdamski, a well-known TV personality specialising in economic subjects, aims to present the ideas and obstacles the average Israeli encounters in dealing with economic issues and bureaucracy, writing about complex subjects in a way that is accessible to all. It is written in a flowing, easy to understand style which occasionally adopts an over-familiar or even patronising tone, but when all is said and done it presents the various subjects it tackles, such as dealing with savings, investing, handling a bank account, the various types of insurance, to name but a few, in a clear and comprehensible way, sometimes even using slang expressions. As I myself have had to deal with economic texts in my professional career, I can appreciate the way the subjects are discussed in this book, which avoids economic jargon and convoluted ways of presenting the material, as well as explaining complex technical terms in layman’s language.

So my husband and I bought seven copies of the book (plus one for ourselves) and presented them to our grown-up grandchildren (our three children are beyond the stage of needing to establish their economic basis) in the hope that it will help them organise their finances and provide them with the information they need to establish themselves on a firm economic basis. As one reads through the book one finds all kinds of humorous asides or comments about the author’s personal experience, which help to make the often-abstruse topic more accessible to the average reader. In addition to practical guidance in day-to-day management of one’s accounts, Amsterdanski often stresses the need to keep track of one’s expenditure, avoid getting into an overdraft at the bank, and compare what is offered by different bodies, whether they be banks, insurance companies or investment firms, in order to get the best deal. He also makes a point of using both the feminine and masculine form (in Hebrew) when referring to consumers of the various kinds of economic services, as without a doubt women are a significant element of the economy on the national, local and individual levels.

In a final, well-written and illuminating chapter Amsterdamski describes the process by which the nation’s budget is established and allocated. I’m not sure that this will interest the average reader who is looking for guidelines on how to manage his or her money, but it provides a great deal of general knowledge that is bound to help everyone understand how the country’s finances are managed. As a subject of general knowledge this is something that should be taught in every high school in Israel, but unfortunately it seems to have been the concern of the people setting the national curriculum to keep the student population in ignorance on this subject.

A Kind of Coexistence

Winter has been reluctant to arrive here in Israel, and as I write this in mid-December we can enjoy the balmy sunshine (and not having to heat our homes), though our fields and gardens yearn for rain. However, the silver lining to the lack of clouds is that every day is a nice day for going out into the countryside and enjoying the benefits of nature. And after a little exertion in the open air there is nothing better than a slap-up meal in one of the restaurants in nearby Abu Ghosh, where shops and restaurants are open on Shabbat. Our favourite is the Caravan, partly because the food is good, it has a lovely view over the Jerusalem hills and also because, in contravention to the Moslem ban on alcohol observed by the other Arab restaurants, it serves wine (and no good meal should be without wine).

Our suburb of Mevasseret Zion sits on a hill overlooking the road to Jerusalem. Occupying the next hill along is the Arab village of Abu Ghosh. At the time of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, when Jerusalem was under siege and the convoys bringing supplies to the embattled city were attacked by the residents of the Arab villages along the road, the villagers of Abu Ghosh did not join in these attacks, preferring to remain neutral or even aid the Zionists. In the years following Israel’s independence the main road from Jerusalem down to the coastal plain went through Abu Ghosh, where some enterprising residents opened a restaurant and café called ‘The Caravan.’ Travellers, including military personnel, often stopped and refreshed themselves before continuing on their way, as in the early years of Israel’s existence the roads were poor, narrow and badly maintained. In those days each trip out of the capital was not as easy as it is today.

Now the highway from Jerusalem down to the plain is wide and well-kept, and the former main road now winds through Abu Ghosh, passing shops and garages as well as restaurants. In the seventy-odd years since Israel’s independence the village has flourished and expanded, its residents have built themselves fine houses, their economy has prospered and the ancient church in the village has hosted music festivals (currently in abeyance as repairs are being made to the roof).

Mevasseret Zion’s local council cooperates with that of Abu Ghosh in matters concerning security and regional administration, so that it came as a shock when the national news broadcast reported that cars in Abu Ghosh had been burned and slogans denigrating Arabs daubed on walls there. Together with other local authorities, the Mevasseret council was quick to condemn that action, publishing a full-page notice to that effect in the local paper. Meetings between the two local councils were held, and quick and competent police work led to the speedy arrest of the perpetrators.

One of the by-products of that shocking event was a call by private residents of Mevasseret to show their support for the village of Abu Ghosh by frequenting its shops and residents, We were happy to comply with that request, and when we got to the restaurant we found ourselves facing a printed notice inside the entrance stating (in Hebrew) ‘Because we are all Brothers.’

That notice was issued by the Reform movement in Israel, and I wonder how long that organization will be allowed to continue to function in Israel once the new government is installed. But the message of the notice is clear, and one can only hope that the spirit of brotherly love, tolerance and acceptance of the other will be allowed to persist in these troubled times.

A Musical Experience Like No Other

Secular poetry written in a mixture of Latin, mediaeval German and French by groups of monks and scholars in the thirteenth century were set to music in the twentieth century by the German composer, Carl Orff. The orchestration calls for an especially large orchestra (with extensive timpani and brass) as well as an enormous choir, giving a grand and grandiose effect. Its title translates as ‘Songs of Beuren,’ the Bavarian abbey where the original manuscript was found in 1803.

The texts extol the pleasures of the tavern, nature, life, love and lust. I was fortunate to be given a record of the work many years ago (I think it was for my twenty-first birthday), and so I was introduced to the work, which I found fascinating. Unlike much contemporary music, especially that written in the twentieth century, it is tuneful and easy on the ear. To some extent it constitutes an attempt to reproduce some elements of mediaeval music but in a greatly expanded form. It contains rhythmical, thumping music as well as parts that are lyrical and romantic (and apparently for this reason was popular with the Nazis, whom Orff supported). There are poems that contain humour, usually at the expense of the individuals who constitute the church hierarchy, or poke fun at the hypocritical way of life of supposedly ascetic monastic regimes which in fact partake of the joys of the flesh, with lavish food, alcoholic beverages, and loose women.

In order to perform Carmina Burana on stage a tremendous effort is required in combining orchestra, choir and soloists. This was achieved in the performance we heard last week at the Jerusalem Theatre, with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, three choirs and soloists – all of the highest standard.

To sit in the packed auditorium and get swept away by the opening chorus, in which the choir blasts out ‘O fortuna,’ describing the vagaries of fate as reflected in the waxing and waning of the moon, is an unforgettable experience. The music varies from fortissimo to pianissimo, and the three combined choirs (The Jerusalem Oratorio Choir, The Tel-Aviv Collegium Singers and the Jerusalem Capellata Oratorio Choir) sang in perfect harmony, creating a very powerful effect.

The conductor of the Tel-Aviv Collegium Singers, Yishai Steckler, was also the conductor of the entire performance, and this enabled him to display his energetic involvement in the event. His enjoyment of the music was evident to all. The three soloists performed their parts in a professional and polished way, though the portly baritone, Alexei Kanionikov deserves special mention for adding his comedic acting ability to his excellent singing, providing an additional element to the event.

The audience applauded so enthusiastically at the end that the conductor coaxed orchestra and choir to giving an encore and repeating the opening chorus, which is also the concluding one. I’ve heard the music many times, in both recorded form and on the radio, but nothing can compare with the effect of the massive choir and orchestra in a live performance – a musical experience like no other.

Anarchists and the Enemies of the Open Society

In 1945, when philosopher Karl Popper published ‘The Open Society and its Enemies,’ his landmark critique of historicist philosophy, he probably did not suspect that only three years later a Jewish state would be established in a distant part of the Middle East. On the other hand, perhaps he did. Because he was Jewish he had been obliged to flee his birthplace Vienna, finding refuge first in New Zealand and then in the UK. His book became a foundation stone of philosophical thinking about the nature of the state and the power it can wield, and although his thinking stemmed from his critique of the philosophers of Ancient Greece, the lessons of his time were apparent to all who read the book.

In the book Popper decries the totalitarian tendencies of societies that adhere to the fallacy that progress is allied to historical positivism, pointing out that liberal democracy is the only form of government that allows institutional improvements without violence and bloodshed.

But what if democracy is used to introduce institutional change that is to the detriment of large segments of the population? Contrary to popular belief, a democratically elected government is not automatically concerned with improving the situation of the general public. As we are seeing in Israel now, the government that is in the process of being formed is concerned primarily to forward an agenda that suits a minority of the population which, because of coalitionary pressures, has gained the upper hand in the negotiations for ministerial appointments and their attendant powers.

A democratically elected government can introduce legislation that is racist, discriminatory and immoral, as Hitler did in 1933. The government now being formed by Binyamin Netanyahu panders to the demands of the ultra-right-wing, ultra-religious, misogynistic politicians who represent a minority of Israel’s population but by no means the majority. Some of those politicians have themselves been convicted of illegal actions. And as for Binyamin Netanyahu, his own record has been sullied by accusations of fraud and corruption.

Because I have tried to avoid watching the ubiquitous football on television (World Cup mania) I happened to find myself watching an interview with the latest recruit to Netanyahu’s government, the odious representative of Israeli fascism, Itamar Ben-Gvir. Asked about an incident in Hebron where a group of Israelis who had come to show solidarity with Palestians were physically attacked by some Israeli soldiers – a situation that makes my flesh crawl – he defended a soldier who felled and punched an Israeli demonstrator. ‘Don’t make excuses for them (the demonstrators),’ Ben-Gvir said, ‘They’re not left-wing. They’re anarchists.”

My concise Oxford dictionary defines anarchist or anarchy as ‘absence of government; disorder, confusion,’ and so Ben-Gvir regards anyone who holds a view that differs from his as seeking to undermine the government and spread disorder and confusion. This would give the ruling regime the right to prosecute and punish anyone who holds views that differ from those of the government.

Welcome to George Orwell’s world of Newspeak, where war is peace, and bad is good. Only now we can call it Ben-Gvir-speak, where anyone who holds left-wing views is labelled an anarchist.

The enemies of the open society are fully entrenched among us.