Israel Election: Why I'm Voting for the Big Jerk This Time

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A man bikes past a campaign poster for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and against one of his challengers, Yair Lapid, last week.
A man bikes past a campaign poster for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and against one of his challengers, Yair Lapid, last week.Credit: Moti Milrod

I’ve been suffering in recent days from election nausea. A physical sense of disgust. Maybe it’s not disgust. Maybe it’s fear. The fear that again, what was, is what will be. Without a change in government by means of an election, democracy loses its soul. When a single person is elected time after time, for years on end, in election campaigns that follow on the heels of one another in unusually close proximity – the democratic process becomes emptied of meaning. It remains an empty, decaying shell.

Instead of serving as “a celebration of democracy,” the repeated elections are only weakening the voters who oppose the status quo, who aspire to change. They sink into weariness, despair, helplessness. They are overcome by indifference. The elections have become a process in which the public confirms the continuation of the rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A reminder: Also in Syria and Russia there are elections. At this stage, ousting Netanyahu is not a means for achieving something (the end of the occupation, social-democracy and so on), but the end in and of itself. The only political goal for which it’s essential to fight.

I don’t know what will happen after Netanyahu is ousted. To be honest, it’s difficult even to imagine it: life under a different prime minister. I believe – and this is definitely a matter of belief – that his ouster would benefit Israel. I believe that it would release good, creative, optimistic forces here, which have been repressed for a decade. I believe that it constitute broad emancipation, general liberation.

Netanyahu is a tyrant. His rule is autocratic. His fall would be a healthy sight. It would revive the memory of democracy. It would open up a major traffic jam. The Bibi-ists would feel orphaned, but it would benefit them too.

A personality cult is sick. It’s a poison that’s killing the souls of Israelis. “Anyone but Bibi” – just like “Anyone but Putin” in Russia or “Anyone but Erdogan” in Turkey – is the only political opinion that is worth something in this election. And that could mark out a path to a saner future.

It’s the only political position that attests to an understanding of what’s happening here, about the way in which Netanyahu is altering Israel’s system of government and subordinating it to his personal needs.

Until about 2015 the prime minister’s tyranny was not the main problem: The main problem was that Israel was becoming a binational apartheid state. That process has taken place and reached fruition, almost inadvertently, in a type of tragically incidental manner, under the nose of the Zionist left and in cooperation with parts of it. It slipped by. Now the dictatorship is slipping by.

Anyone who votes Tuesday for Meretz, Kahol Lavan, even Labor, is risking having his vote end up in the trash can. When you stand behind the curtain in the polling booth, be aware that this is not the time to flirt with the electoral threshold (a minimum of 3.25 percent of the vote, to ensure a party’s participation in the Knesset).

Netanyahu’s dictatorship is what’s happening when you’re busy with voting according to the “at least” method: At least there will be a party that says “occupation,” or at least there will be a party headed by a woman. This is a method of making do with less, the method of the small ethical/moral victory. “At least I’m pleased that I brought X in to the Knesset.”

This time vote using the method that is designed to make it as easy as possible for the leaders of the camp that espouses change to stop the march of folly toward dictatorship. Gideon Sa’ar of New Hope, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu – those are the options. Lapid called me a “little shit” about 20 years ago (he doesn’t like criticism). But I’ll vote for Lapid, the big shit. I meant to vote for a different shit, Sa’ar, but according to the popular opinion polls, he has become too small a shit.

If I’m voting for a shit, then let it be a big one.

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