Opinion

Bibiphobia: How We've Made a Monster of Netanyahu

All the lack of public action, the indifference, complacency, blindness and years of silence in the face of conduct far more criminal find an outlet in hating Netanyahu

Netanyahu speaks at Moshe Arens' funeral, January 8, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

The disease is spreading, its symptoms worsening. Like other phobias, it is based in reality that the disorder charges with exaggerations, anxieties and jealousies that become hatred, demonization and dehumanization. Bibiphobia. Like Islamophobia and homophobia, like anti-Semitism, but personal, as personal as can be.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a bad prime minister for Israel, like most of his predecessors. Bibiphobia has turned him into a monster. Those who have contracted the disease — half the nation — never stood a chance.

Everything Netanyahu has done, is doing or will do is wrong. Whether he speaks or is silent, travels or stays in Israel, makes peace or war — it’s all the same. There are no considerations of the matter at hand. The syndrome affects judgment and the assessment of reality.

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To wit: The prime minister says he will make a dramatic announcement that evening. Media outlets are free to ignore it, but choose to highlight it. Discussions, guesses, live broadcasts, sky-high ratings. Netanyahu appears and offers pointed arguments: not the drama he promised, but arguments he has a right to make, and the chorus erupts in anger. How dare he, look how he deceived us, how did he not mention Moshe Arens (though if he had, they would have accused him of cynically exploiting his death).

Media that never hesitate to inflate incidents into mega-news — a soldier drowns, a fighter jet canopy detaches — are shocked when a prime minister does the same thing for the same purpose: ratings.

Judging by the intensity of the anger, Netanyahu should be locked up for “driving the country crazy.” Our best, most assiduous investigative reporter, Gidi Weitz, wrote Tuesday in Haaretz that it was quite logical for Netanyahu to ask to confront state’s witnesses, but who’s listening? Netanyahu, after all, is destroying the justice system.

The justice minister meets with the parents of murder suspects, a scandalous action that can be read as support for their children’s actions, intimidation of their interrogators and later of the judges, and no one calls this a threat to the judicial system.

Only Netanyahu’s a threat. Ayelet Shaked’s damage to the system is infinitely worse than all Netanyahu’s threats. But he’s the great danger, while Shaked continues to be the darling of the media and large swaths of the public; how serious she is, a potential prime minister.

The same for Avigdor Lieberman, more corrupt and rotten than Netanyahu. Many of Netanyahu’s greatest enemies went on and on for years about how Lieberman was a serious statesman, how his word was his bond, how he was so strong and so moderate, and remained silent regarding how corrupt he and his party were.

Very few pushed the attorney general to prosecute Lieberman the way people are foaming at the mouth urging Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to charge Netanyahu. The clock is ticking. They want to see Netanyahu in formaldehyde.

The righteous anger against Netanyahu contains blood lust and an odd desire for vengeance, disproportionate to the seriousness of the allegations. All the lack of public action, the indifference, complacency, blindness and years of silence in the face of conduct far more criminal find an outlet in hating Netanyahu. 

Here we aren’t silent. We, who were silent on the killing of 300 protesters in Gaza; on Ahed Tamimi and Khalida Jarrar; on 1,200 dunams for settlers so they can strangle Bethlehem; on all the crimes in Gaza and the sins in Jenin, will now confront Satan. We will not give up until we see his body roll in the square.

Not because of 300 people who were killed in vain, but because he received gifts from tycoons. Not over his burial of the two-state option, but over Shaul Elovitch. We will meet on the barricades and raise the banner of freedom with blood and with fire — because of Elovitch.

I never voted for Netanyahu, of course, nor will I ever. But given the pretenders to the throne and the way he’s being lynched, it’s impossible not to feel discomfort. A discomfort that is difficult to express in enlightened Israel.