Opinion

Vote, Get Photographed and Oust Bibi

Israelis vote in the last general elections, April 2019.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

It’s not Benjamin Netanyahu who’s scattering accusations and contemptible proposals on every side; they are merely the hallucinations of his political death throes, which began with the start of the investigations that apparently herald a bitter ending in jail for him. Each day brings a new delusional episode. 

A week ago, Netanyahu came out with the mother of all hallucinations: Were it not for ballot box fraud – among the Arabs, of course – the Balad party wouldn’t have won its four seats and his reign would have continued. In the heat of his incitement, Netanyahu has overlooked the fact that Balad ran on a joint ticket with the United Arab List, an Islamist party.

People well-versed in anti-democratic processes point out that the natural continuation of delegitimizing the other – in our case, the Arabs – is the delegitimization of any sign of democracy in this country. Therefore, what’s happening today is no longer unbridled incitement against Arabs, which our conditional democrats could ignore and let slide. We’re already halfway down the slippery slope that began with the Arabs and is continuing to sink the entire Israeli political system.

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Consequently, we should praise Kahol Lavan’s leader, Benny Gantz for coming out against Netanyahu’s bill to allow cameras in polling stations. And more importantly, Gantz has already figured out that this is a future alibi, which Netanyahu intends to use to undermine the results of the election should he lose.What’s happening right now is the beginning of the end of Israeli democracy, for all its limitations and lapses.

Democracy rests on pluralism of opinion, on the one hand, and a single decision-making authority that binds everyone, on the other. This authority is derived from the elections. Thus anyone who strives to unhinge the electoral system, drown it in a sea of suspicions and cast doubts on its legitimacy is destroying this authority. 

From there, the road to anarchy, which is the nightmare of any people, is already paved. And what’s most absurd is that Netanyahu, the ingrate, achieved his lofty position thanks to the very system he is now cursing. The Arab phrase “the destruction of Basra” (referring to the Iraqi city of Basra) warns of an impending disaster.

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There are people on “our side” – the Jewish and Arab democrats – who treat everything as if it doesn’t affect them. But if what’s at stake is “the destruction of Basra,” the first neighborhood to be destroyed will be our own, the neighborhood of the Jewish and Arab democrats. In light of this danger, it’s vital to join hands with our former rivals in order to save the future.

On the other hand, we must remember that we shouldn’t go down the path of investigating electoral results that are very close, even if doing so is legitimate. In the United States, Al Gore decided to concede so as to avoid going down this dead end. Gore gave up the possibility of being president of the United States and thereby saved American democracy from a terrible maelstrom. 

Donald Trump, in contrast, began casting doubts on the integrity of the elections several weeks before his election. His intent was clear. When all the polls were predicting a victory for Hillary Clinton, Trump worked to drive the system into madness, which could be summed up in one troubling question – whether Clinton would be a legitimate president or not.

Despite the dangers behind what Netanyahu is doing, we should see his behavior as the death throes of his political career. The road to his political end has already been paved; all he needs is a single push. And then it will be as if he never was prime minister and never embittered our lives with unbridled incitement for a quarter of a century. Consequently, I won’t allow Netanyahu to disrupt my plans.

On Tuesday, September 17, I will put on a suit, most likely with a red tie; I’ll comb my hair well and pour 1.5 liters of perfume on myself (I don’t like to overdo things); and I’ll walk slowly, to wring every possible drop of pleasure from anticipating the act to come: Veni, vidi, vici – I voted, I was photographed, I ousted him. Bye-bye, Bibi!

The road to Netanyahu's political end has been paved. All he needs is a single push, and it will be as if he never was prime minister and never embittered our lives.