Opinion

Israel’s Next Political Murder? Read the Writing on the Wall

A billboard depicting leading journalists in northern Tel Aviv with the slogan 'They won't decide,' January 18, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

A warning to the police, the Shin Bet security service and Israeli citizens: A political murder could strike Israel soon. The victim would be a jurist, a journalist or a senior politician from the parties that oppose the continuation of the Netanyahu regime.

The jurists at high risk are Liat Ben Ari, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. The journalists at high risk are Guy Peleg, legal and crime reporter for Channel 12 News; Aviad Glickman, legal and crime reporter for Channel 13 News; Amnon Abramovich, analyst for Channel 12 News; Raviv Drucker, analyst for Channel 13 News; and Ben Caspit, analyst for the daily Ma’ariv and Radio 103.

The politicians at high risk are Yair Lapid, Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Gantz, Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi. If and when indictments are filed against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the public protest against him broadens, populations at risk will include the Petah Tikva protesters and political activists like Barak Cohen, Meni Naftali and Eldad Yaniv.

These four targeted groups – the state prosecution, the media, politicians and demonstrators – have been repeatedly labeled by Netanyahu and his accomplices as a clear and present danger to the state and the regime. They are partners to the “pursuit,” the “witch hunt” and the “frame-ups.” They are guilty of a “coup,” a “blow to democracy” and a “political assassination.” Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter are full of barefaced, violent incitement against the people mentioned here. They’ve been marked out by Netanyahu, his son and his court, replete with their names and faces.

Ben Ari already has a bodyguard from the Justice Ministry; thugs planned to ambush her at the airport. She and Nitzan have been described as framing Netanyahu, while Mendelblit has been portrayed as weak and a puppet of the left. Peleg, Abramovich, Drucker and Caspit have starred in Likud campaign posters – “They will not decide.” Peleg and Glickman already have bodyguards paid for by their employers. An obituary-notice poster for Abramovich has been printed and distributed.

Lapid was physically attacked last week at a public event; his bodyguard stopped a man who tried to hit him with a cellphone. Lieberman is portrayed as the one blocking the formation of a right-wing Netanyahu government for irrelevant reasons; Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz has publicly stated that Lieberman is committing “a political assassination against Netanyahu and Likud.”

Gantz, who has received the mandate to form a government instead of Netanyahu, is being accused of seeking to form a minority government with the support of the Arab parties that won’t let Israel deal with Iran or Hezbollah. During the election campaigns he was portrayed as a sexual harasser, an insane person, someone who mourns Hamas terrorists and abandoned soldiers in Gaza, someone to blame for the death of a boy from a mortar shell in Nahal Oz near Gaza and vulnerable to Iranian blackmail.

Odeh and Tibi are portrayed as a fifth column that supports the killing of soldiers. The protesters in Petah Tikva have been beaten and verbally attacked ever since counter-demonstrations in support of Netanyahu have been staged there.

It’s worth briefly recalling the chain of events that led to the murder of Yitzhak Rabin; then too the incitement, violence and hate-mongering were well organized and efficient. Opposition leader Netanyahu led a demonstration at Ra’anana Junction featuring a noose and a coffin bearing the slogan “Rabin is burying Zionism.” During a visit to the Wingate Institute, an activist from the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim surged toward Rabin but was blocked by his security guards at the last minute.

At Jerusalem’s Zion Square, Netanyahu stood on the balcony and addressed a crowd shouting “Rabin is a traitor” and “With blood and fire we will expel Rabin.” Near the Knesset, thugs charged at the car carrying Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer. Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir waved the Cadillac hood emblem he tore off Rabin’s car and declared, “We’ll get to Rabin, too.” A month later they got to him.

The writing is on the wall, but as is usual with writing on the wall, no one reads it in time. The full picture is understood only when it’s too late.

You’ve been warned.