With the announcement that hard-right Avigdor Lieberman would soon use his powerful position as Minister of Defense in the Israeli cabinet to advance additional anti-democratic legislation, members of the old Israeli political establishment could scarcely contain their apprehension. “Lieberman is the new Kahane ,” read the title of an op-ed by a former two-time Israeli minister, a reference to the founding father of Israel’s first fascist party.
“Israel is not a democracy anymore ,” lamented the former Speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, at a huge protest in Tel Aviv, the heart of the Israeli left. At the same mass rally, a liberal lawmaker called the coalition the “most racist government  in Israel’s history” and assailed the leader of the centrist Labor Party for his willingness to work in partnership with Netanyahu. About 15,000 citizens answered the call of organizers that night, assembling for a raucous “Emergency march: Standing up for democracy while we still can.”
But that was over five years ago. The former Israeli minister who called Lieberman the “new Kahane,” Yossi Sarid, is now dead. The liberal lawmaker who named Netanyahu’s government the most racist in history, Nitzan Horowitz, has since retired from parliamentary politics. Today, warnings of the increasing racism pervading Israeli society and guiding its populist leaders come not from members of the left-wing Meretz Party, but rather from decorated Israeli generals, including many notorious for their involvement in atrocities against Palestinians.