In Israel, Judges, especially those of the Supreme Court, have the function of protecting and defending human rights and liberty, of standing against any kind of segregation. Where are they when the spirit of democracy ceases to function as their compass? Theirs is a very complicated and difficult position.

The State of Israel does not have a constitution. Over the years, certain basic laws were therefore amended in the spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which determined that “[the state of Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex, will assure freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture”. This declaration is the cornerstone of Israeli democracy.

On 19 July 2018 the Knesset amended the Nation State Law as a basic law, which constitutes a deviation from the equality concept promulgated by the Declaration of Independence.

In September 2018, Esther Haiut, president of Israel’s Supreme Court, was invited by the Italian Senate to speak on the 80th anniversary of the declaration about race made by the fascist Italian government in 1938. That declaration determined that Jews are an inferior race, and consequently several prohibitions concerning positions, property and marriage were instituted.

Esther Haiut referred to the fact that harnessing law, justice, to the promotion of horrendous and offensive ideologies is very easy, and it is the judicial system’s function and responsibility to protect human rights and liberty. History, she said, tells us that judges in regimes that became totalitarian and death traps for their citizens didn’t exercise this protective function.  Certainly, this presents a very delicate question: do they have enough power when the spirit of democracy becomes segregated, even though the Supreme Court is supposed to be functioning independently, and does not coalesce, “fraternize”, with the regime?

To focus on the concept of segregation implied by the Nation State Law, we first need to differentiate the terms “national” and “nationalistic”. The latter emphasizes the chauvinistic, fanatical and exaggerated sentiment of nationalism, which leads to hate and contempt for other people. It seems that the Israeli government and parliament superimpose these two terms, thus concealing the government’s true position: creating a segregated “fraternity”. This political and legislative movement, which from a psychoanalytic point of view should be considered an act, changed Israeli society in a way from which there is no return. It’s a radical change of the society’s being.

Lacan states very explicitly:

The energy that we put into all being brothers very clearly proves that we are not brothers. Even with our brother by birth, nothing proves that we are his brother – we can have a completely opposite batch of chromosomes. This pursuit of brotherhood, without counting the rest, liberty and equality, is something that’s pretty extraordinary, and it is appropriate to realize what it covers.

I know only one single origin of brotherhood – I mean human, always humus brotherhood – segregation. […]

No other brotherhood is even conceivable or has the slightest foundation, as I have just said, the slightest scientific foundation, unless it’s because people are isolated together, isolated from the rest.[1]

This amended nationalistic law has destroyed the democratic principle upon which the State of Israel was built: equal rights for all citizens, regardless of religion, race, and sex.

Where does this act lead us? It is clear that this social rupture will have serious consequences, more serious than we can possibly imagine; it is going shatter the foundations of Israeli society. Lacan’s advice to look into what lies behind the so-called “brotherhood”, fraternity, seems to me to be a decisive point. What indeed lies behind this new law? Is it only a question of nationalism or are there ulterior motives? Throughout history there have been more than few dictators who based their power on nationalistic enthusiasm and fear of external dangers, not only to defend their nations, but also to consolidate their rule, and turn themselves into an Ideal that would quench everyone’s thirst for unlimited power.

This question brings to the surface the crucial relevance of tracing the master’s signifiers of the discourse, the terms ordering the rhetoric that captures and hypnotizes the listeners, the public, and creates a mass swept along by the melody of the discourse.

Lacan already pointed out: I would hold that no meaning given to history, based on Hegeliano-Marxist premises, is capable of accounting for this resurgence – which only goes to show that the offering to obscure gods of an object of sacrifice is something to which few subjects can resist succumbing, as if under some monstrous spell. He adds: the sacrifice signifies that, in the object of our desires, we try to find evidence for the presence of the desire of this Other that I call here the dark God.[2]

We need to try uncovering these shining and dazzling points which lead to segregation, racism and even murder.

There are actions paving new and favorable paths, and others which pave a harmful one, from which there sometimes is no return. It is preferable to be aware of the fact that, no doubt, dark Gods are present everywhere. Sometimes even judges can’t avoid sacrificing themselves to these gods. Being a judge is another impossible profession.



[1] J.Lacan, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, W.W.Norton & Company New York – London, page 114.

[2] J. Lacan, Seminar XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, W.W.Norton & Company New York-London, p. 275.