At 5:30 P.M., with a row of Israeli flags behind him to show that the occasion was one of state, Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the cameras and addressed the nation, speaking as prime minister. Not as a private individual, the flags show. It was an official occasion. The prime minister informed the citizenry that at those very moments a “coup attempt” was taking place. “It’s so anti-democratic,” he warned. “This is how they are trying to topple a strong, right-wing prime minister.”
In other words, the supposed coup was ideological. The left is trying to seize power by means of the State Prosecutor’s Office, which is engaged in a “witch-hunt” against him, acting “against the law”; its heavy־handed conduct, according to Netanyahu, is undermining “the rule of law, ethics” and it “extorted witnesses,” making “terrible threats.” He dubbed the evidentiary stage of his trial now taking place “a charade.” With this he has demonstrated total lack of confidence in the panel of judges. They are also part of the attempted coup.
This speech is indescribably grave. Yet the strange thing is that it doesn’t sound strange. Nor did it achieve much. Life went on as usual, as though the prime minister hadn’t just delivered the gravest speech of his life. His supporters didn’t take to the streets, though actually, he didn’t tell them to do so. Bibi fans tend to do what Bibi says, and he didn’t say so. Yet, what he did say couldn’t be more serious, and there wasn’t even one small spontaneous demonstration?
Netanyahu didn’t make that speech just to let off steam. He did it in order to mobilize his supporters for a violent counter-coup.
Meanwhile the masses don’t seem to have any appetite for that right now. This coup is happening yet even Netanyahu loyalists Jacob Bardugo and Avishay Ben Haim aren’t twitching. His speech, extraordinarily grave as it was, didn’t move his fans. What he said was no earthquake for them.
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Make no mistake, it was an earthquake. But life under Bibi is a series of earthquakes. That’s why his speech didn’t spur his fans to emulate the Trumpians and storm the court or the Knesset.
Also, make no mistake on this either: On April 5, 2021, at 5:30 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was broadcast live on television and incited his supporters to rebel against the state prosecution, against the judicial system, against the prosecutor in his trial and against the justices who are supposed to decide his fate. He incited them to rebel against all the left-wing citizens in the country, who support the law enforcement system these days.
He incited, yet for the time being, they are not reacting. They’re curled up at home. But for how long? Since this unprecedentedly grave speech didn’t work, we can expect many more like it. Their severity will gradually and consistently escalate; new lines will repeatedly be drawn in the sand, and will be breached; until Bibi’s fans heed him and take action; until there is violence, up to the point of civil war; until heads roll. And the blood of Yitzhak Rabin cries out from the site of his murder, in Rabin Square.