Bennett and Shaked, Remember Your Old Campaign Slogan

Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht
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A woman holds up a "Leftist traitors" sign at a protest outside Ayelet Shaked's house in Tel Aviv, last week
A woman holds up a "Leftist traitors" sign at a protest outside Ayelet Shaked's house in Tel Aviv, last week Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht

Yamina continues to provide suffering Knesset members with stomach aches and anxiety as Benjamin Netanyahu zeroes in on them and targets them with his unique steamroller pressure.

We recently got to know Amichai Chikli, the Yamina rebel who has so far been left with no loot, and now we meet another member of the party, Nir Orbach, who has asked to strike his signature off the request to replace the Knesset speaker.

At the same time, the character assassination of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked is proceeding in rightist circles. To be attacked from within – by their close milieu, by partners to the cause, by former friends – is extremely painful and confusing. But alongside offering understanding and empathy, in view of the threats to them and their families – more proof that the protests of the Bibistic right and the messianic right are immeasurably more violent than the other side’s – it’s time to advise Bennett and Shaked to reboot. They simply won’t survive otherwise.

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No more anguish, agonizing or apologies. Instead, rise to attack. No more gloomy-faced lawmakers. Instead, a news conference where a united Yamina stands behind its leader and his government.

To stop the devil’s dance around them, Bennett and Shaked must stop apologizing. Surely they remember they once had an election campaign with that slogan. Now it’s time for the real test.

Bennett and Shaked’s real test isn’t against the scrawny left-wing matchsticks, whom they attacked savagely to the applause of their supporters. Nor is it against foreign network hosts, whom Bennett puts in their place – so he likes to boast – with his polished English and fiery temperament. The real test is against their political father, Benjamin Netanyahu, who abused and humiliated them and whom they have rewarded with slavish loyalty thus far.

Netanyahu never wanted to cultivate an heir or foster a favorite, but only harassed and humiliated anyone who dared to spring up around him. Only there, in that painful place, can those claiming to lead the state grow.

Bennett and Shaked have something to learn from their partners in the emerging government. These partners are all more experienced fighters in the front against Netanyahu and have long internalized that if you blink once in the face-off with him, it’s one time too many.

Indeed, the pressure from the right is not directed at Gideon Sa’ar and the members of his New Hope party, not to mention Avigdor Lieberman, who initiated the right-wing uprising against Netanyahu but hardly receives any attention from the Bibists except for the usual invectives.

Nor does anyone take on Yair Lapid, who toughened up considerably after being fired from Netanyahu’s government. The Bibists also stopped harassing Benny Gantz, who since becoming his last victim swore not to sit with in a government with Netanyahu. Gantz recently brushed off another absurd rotation proposal with a bored air; he is acting as a quiet, consistent engine in the change bloc.

One of the distinct characteristics of hooliganism is picking on those perceived as weak. Yamina is the weakest link, so Netanyahu and his loyalists are striking it relentlessly. This has to change because the prime minister cannot be the government’s weakest link.

So no more “there was no other alternative” and “we did everything we could to form a different government, but this is what came out.” Instead: “This is our government, which we’re proud to head, because first and foremost it replaces the man who did the greatest harm to Israeli society in the past decades, leaving hardly one human being who still believes him due to his chronic tendency to lie and cheat. Our government combines many good forces, from the right and the left, and vis-a-vis Netanyahu’s climate of insanity, we want and need to practice sanity, because that’s what Israel’s citizens want and need more than anything else. This is what we’ll do and we’ll succeed” (first draft).

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