Opinion

He Incites, They Agitate, and We Weep

Nehemia Shtrasler
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, March 8, 2020.Credit: Oded Balilty / POOL / AFP
Nehemia Shtrasler

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The Likudniks’ delicate souls couldn’t comprehend it. They rose up against “The Last Supper” installation in Rabin Square. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz determined that it is “not art”; apparently he knows something about the field. He subsequently said that the sculpture condemns the prime minister to death. Where did he get that?

Israel's Locked-down, Let-down Youth Rattles Netanyahu's Cage. LISTEN

Transportation Minister Miri Regev went a step further: “This is not incitement but a call for action.” And Minister for Cyber and National Digital Matters David Amsalem said: “If Netanyahu were to go out into the street, they would shoot him.” Does he remember who shot whom 25 years ago?

Lawmaker Osnat Mark cried out loudly: “If the incitement does not stop, it will end with a murder again.” What did she mean by the word “again?” Perhaps the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin? And when she said “incitement,” did she have in mind the greatest inciter in Israel? The one who said leftists “are not Jews,” and called those demonstrating against him “anarchists” and “spreaders of diseases,” a disgusting epithet only uttered by the biggest antisemites.

Likud lawmaker Osnat Mark.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Perhaps Mark recalled Netanyahu’s incitement as he walked at the head of the mock funeral procession 25 years ago. And perhaps she was referring to the fact that the greatest inciter stood on a balcony in Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem and inflamed the masses who screamed “Rabin is a traitor” and “Rabin is a murderer” while brandishing posters of Rabin in a kaffiyeh – like Yasser Arafat’s,  Rabin with a target on his forehead, and Rabin wearing an SS uniform. Or perhaps she was remembering that Likud figures David Levy, Miki Eitan, Dan Meridor and Benny Begin saw the unruly behavior and left the stage, while Netanyahu continued to incite?

A month later, Rabin was dead, assassinated.

2. Yuval Steinitz

To the energy minister, everything is clear. He condemns “violence from the right and from the left” equally. Preposterous. Those who beat up demonstrators in the capital were thugs from La Familia, a band of right-wing Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans. Those who attacked the demonstrators in Tel Aviv with clubs, stones and glass bottles were right-wing rioters. And it was a right-winger, Felix Iliayev, who stabbed protester Nir Sa’ar in the neck at a junction in southern Israel in July. Nothing short of attempted murder.

That is to say, the right wing screams: Incitement! Threats! Bloodshed! Murder! But in the end, political assassinations in Israel (both successful and attempted) were by people from the right – and only the right – killing people from the left: Rabin, for one, but also Emil Grunzweig, for example, who was slain by a grenade thrown at a peace rally in 1983.

The hypocrisy of the politicians from the right reminds me of the joke about the Polish woman: She is sick, sick, sick … a widow.

Energy Minister Steinitz and Prime Minister Netanyahu at a ceremony marking the arrival of the foundation for the Leviathan platform, in January 2019. Credit: Marc Israel Sellem

3. Yisrael Katz

There was once a finance minister – he is no more. The man has disappeared before his time, an morphed into a political aide of Netanyahu. He had good intentions and great plans at the outset, but in a flash he realized that the big boss wants an option for an election and he moved into a crude election economy.

In his capacity as a political aide, Katz announced he will submit the 2020 national budget to the government on Sunday. This is insane. This is a budget for only three months. There is no such thing anywhere in the entire world. According to the coalition agreement, a two-year budget should be submitted in order to achieve certainty and stability. But Katz doesn’t care about Israel’s economy.

The only thing that’s important to him is his chief’s command. Nor does he care that the most eminent group of economists in Israel has written to him that it’s urgently necessary to prepare “a budget until the end of 2021.”

Yisrael Katz at the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 11, 2019. Credit: Emil Salman

Nor does he care that soon Israel's credit rating will be lowered and we will find ourselves in a financial catastrophe. The fact that our deficit is the largest in the world, after the United States, does not interest him.

Why am I even talking about economics? All Katz cares about is his leader's political goal: Toppling the unity government and heading into an election. He’s handing out billions as if there was no tomorrow. He’s giving Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni, leader of the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox alliance United Torah Judaism, and the ultra-Orthodox hundreds of millions through grants for every child, regardless of their economic situation. Whatever it takes for them not to break their alliance with Likud. What about the economy? Lord have mercy.

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