Opinion

In Israeli Ethnic Politics, This Is What Revenge Looks Like

‘We’ are what you once called ‘the second Israel’ and today the ‘periphery.’ We understand exactly what bribery is, but we’re punishing you and ignoring it

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators at a support rally for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, August 9, 2017.
Ofer Vaknin

The question is, how is it possible that after all the investigations, the suspects, the cases and earthquakes, after everything is out in the open, Likud gets more than two additional Knesset seats in the polls? We’re asking, but excuse me, the question is idiotic. There’s something idiotic in the misunderstanding, the shock and the complete surprise. There’s something idiotic in the question: What, didn’t the suspicions deter them?

Put the suspicions aside for a moment. Pay attention to the writing on the wall. You’ve been ignoring it, you’ve been busy. You were demonstrating, signing petitions, uploading posts, but you didn’t raise your heads to see it. It didn’t just appear today. It’s been there from the ‘50s. It’s no good, it says on the wall. You screwed us then and now we’re getting you back.

Who are “we” and who are “you?” “We” are what you once called “the second Israel” and today the “periphery.” “We” are the children of those you threw into all kinds of holes. And who are “you?” You are Mapai, you are the police, you are the media, you are the state. We understand all too well what bribery is, they’re saying, but we’re punishing you and ignoring it.

One moment, you say, what’s happening here? Haven’t 70 years passed since then? Haven’t we understood, regretted, integrated and made up? Sorry, they’re saying, we won’t forget and won’t forgive. He won’t let us forget and forgive. He himself won’t forgive or forget. He and all those who depend on him. Bibi is us. He hates the police too, he hates the media too. And most important: He hates you.

In the documentary “The Squatters,” a man they wanted to evict in Kfar Shalem told journalist Amnon Levy, I’ll vote Likud even if a donkey leads it. This man is Likud. He’s Likud even though Likud never helped him with anything. He’s Likud even if Bibi is convicted, makes peace or starts a war. He doesn’t care about cigars or whatever. He cares that those who stuck his parents in Kfar Shalem get screwed all the way. He cares that Mapai, or whatever they call it today, won’t return to power. Even if he himself pays the bill.

This is not about rationality or common sense. It’s about revenge. Revenge doesn’t distinguish between bribery and breach of trust. Revenge needs no explanation. It doesn’t depend on whether our situation is good or bad. Revenge comes when it can. Now it can.

Likud is on the ropes? Revenge comes and lifts it. Seventy years it’s been simmering over a low flame. Regev and Bibi are adding a twig to the fire and now they’re slicing us a warm piece of it. Revenge, that’s what they want in Ashkelon, Sderot and Argazim in south Tel Aviv. Revenge is what gives Bibi the 20 plus Knesset seats in the surveys.

Revenge has no sell-by date. It may disappear in 50 years, maybe in a 100, maybe never. Revenge has changed the norms. They can admit the facts but deny the charges. Yes, it’s all true, this is the norm now. Gifts? So what. Submarines? So what. Bezeq and Yedioth – so what. Imagine the prime minister was the best doctor in the world. Wouldn’t you pay to have such a doctor save you? Even if he’s a thief and a swindler? Sure you’ll pay. And how you’ll pay.

Those preoccupied with revenge and survival have no time to fight corruption. On Givat Amal the squatters say: Corruption is the deprivation and injustice you practiced, not his champagne. He violated the law? So we’ll change the law because that’s what the people want. It’s time the rule of law goes and the will of the people counts. Farewell rule of law, welcome will of the people.

Corruption doesn’t bother the will of the people. It bother’s the beautiful and satiated. Not the ultra-Orthodox or the rabbis. We recite proverbs to them, to surprise them with their own weapons. We quote “love the stranger” and “don’t take bribes” to them. But they’re not surprised. They laugh. They expel and bribe and steal and wipe their you know what with proverbs.

You can say anything and get away with it. When Bibi says he dedicates his life to Israel’s security, the words don’t jump and say hey, wait a second, what are you babbling about? Who are you selling us to? Forget it, says Bibi, it’s not meant for you, it’s for those who don’t forget and don’t forgive. Good, says Elovitch (or is it Milchan?) with a laugh, just don’t forget to throw in the threat from Iran.