Opinion |

Getting the Democracy We Deserve

There is nothing to stand up against Netanyahu. The regime he created has no opposition, and it seems to be the opposition's own fault

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There’s nothing to fight for now. The corruption suspicions against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are being handled well by the police, and except for those allegations there is nothing significant on the agenda in the shallow and insipid public discourse that has taken hold here. The military draft bill is meaningless – let the ultra-Orthodox serve, let them not serve, who cares anyway – and except for that, no one is addressing any serious issue.

Israel pretends to be agitated by fateful issues, but the truth is it only deals with rubbish. From time to time there are fabricated dramas amplified by sharp political reporters, most of them terribly cynical and boring, like the dull politicians who feed them, until the drama, like the last one, subsides.

There’s also no one to struggle with. Aligned against Netanyahu is nothing, an empty space. No one stands up to him. The prime minister is being questioned as a criminal suspect and no one challenges him seriously, except for the police commissioner and protest organizer Eldad Yaniv. Just imagine similar allegations against Shimon Peres, with Menachem Begin or even Yitzhak Shamir in the opposition – heaven and earth would be shaking. But Israel has in recent years developed a regime with no opposition, like in Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey – but with a global innovation Made in Israel: It’s the opposition’s fault that there’s no opposition, not the government’s.

The so-called opposition has nothing to sell. It has nothing to offer other than “Netanyahu is corrupt,” as if Netanyahu would be fit to continue in office if he were modest, morally pure teacher of Jewish law. There is no alternative to be found, even if you search with a microscope. This can be seen on the Facebook page of Labor candidate Avi Gabbay: It’s empty. “Together we will turn Israel into the greatest country in the world.” The populists Netanyahu and Yair Lapid couldn’t have put it any better.

As you scroll down, you see Gabbay sitting at a table with A.B. Yehoshua. Great! An ideological dialogue with a writer and thinker. And this is what the candidate writes: “I met today with the Israel Prize winner for literature and poetry, A.B. Yehoshua. We discussed his article on resolving the conflict with the Palestinians, and on the changes democracy is undergoing in Israel and the world. Shabbat Shalom.” Like an entry in Gabbay’s high school diary.

A.B. Yehoshua wrote a lengthy, thought-provoking manifesto, which will soon be published by Haaretz, about the one-state solution. What does the left’s prime ministerial candidate think of it? That we can’t know. He apparently doesn’t think anything about it at all. The fact is that he didn’t write or say anything after the conversation. The point was to be photographed with A.B. Yehoshua.

Here’s some more from the high-schooler’s diary. “I returned from a very successful trip to the United States.” Tired but happy? Lovely. What was successful about it? Again, a photo (with Bill Clinton) is the message. The only message.

From the other contender, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, we could of course expect much less. “Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve done good things for the Jewish people. But enough.” What a fighting opposition! Lapid’s Facebook page deals mainly with corruption and conscripting the ultra-Orthodox. We all know that Israel that has no other issues to deal with – or maybe Lapid just doesn’t have anything else to say.

There’s an old joke that for every two Israelis there are three opinions. Now we have three Israelis who want to be prime minister and they have only one opinion. When there is nothing to fight for and no one to fight for, either, not only does emptiness prevail, but also despair. That’s why the recent elections/no elections drama was so unimportant. That’s why the next elections will also be unimportant, despite all the talk of how fateful they are.

It’ll be more of the same, maybe with less personal corruption. This is what Israel puts out. This is what Israelis want. This is what we deserve.

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