Just Not Bibi Camp Is Really the Just Not Arabs Camp

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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The Joint List leaders celebrate a historic gain in seats at the Join List Headquarters, Shefa-'Amr, March 3, 2020
The Joint List leaders celebrate a historic gain in seats at the Join List Headquarters, Shefa-'Amr, March 3, 2020Credit: Gil Eliahu
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

There is no Just Not Bibi camp. It does not exist. There is an Only Bibi camp. And it won 58 Knesset seats in the election. Not enough to form a government. But this camp is not facing a Just Not Bibi camp with 61 seats. That is just a lie. If the goal were really Just Not Bibi, then Kahol Lavan, Labor-Gesher-Meretz, Yisrael Beiteinu and the Joint List could form a government of 61 MKs.

The Only Bibi camp set itself a similar goal and only got as far as 58, based on the near-complete vote tally. If the objective of Gantz, Lapid, Lieberman, Peretz, Odeh and Tibi really was to oust Bibi at all costs, then they’ve done enough to attain that goal. The only problem is – this is not their goal. It’s time to acknowledge the truth: Bibi succeeded in misleading the media and the public into believing that this was their goal. And wonder of wonders: They are stubbornly refusing to capitalize on their victory at the voting booth and realize their life’s mission.

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Bibi limps to election 'victory.' But he didn't winCredit: Haaretz Weekly Podcast

Because for all that Lieberman wants to oust Netanyahu, he is not  willing to cooperate with Arabs. With this refusal, he is keeping Netanyahu alive. And as much as Kahol Lavan wants to oust Netanyahu, it is only willing to do so with a Jewish majority. It is not willing to rely on the Arabs. So it appears that Lieberman and Kahol Lavan’s only-Jews agenda is topping Just Not Bibi in the order of priorities. They are Jews first of all, and only afterwards democrats who are fighting corruption. They are racists first of all, and only afterwards valiant upholders of the rule of law. They are nationalists first of all, and only afterwards liberals.

The Only Bibi camp is consumed by the fight for the state’s “Jewish” character – i.e., for the centrality of Jewish ethnocentrism in the Israeli identity, and by a burning hatred for the liberal, universal democracy that threatens this identity.

But competing against this camp was not a liberal camp fighting for the values of democracy and the rule of law over and above ethnocentric loyalty to the Jewish tribe. Just Not Bibi is a fiction, an illusion. Opposite the Only Bibi camp is another camp that prizes preserving Jewish superiority over democratic values. The unassailable proof is that there is absolutely no way a Just Not Bibi government of 61 MKs will be established.

Lieberman and Kahol Lavan are the ones keeping Netanyahu in power now. They are afraid, they just refuse, to win. In their view, apparently, the taboos that Bibi is breaking – respecting rules of statesmanship and civility, placing the rule of law above all, preserving the structure of the democratic regime – are trivial compared to the formative, axiomatic taboo that is still the guiding Israeli ethos: the impossibility of having Arabs as part of the government.

Just Not Bibi is an invention of Bibi’s, with support from a superficial media. Just Not Arabs – this is the reality, so obvious that it really goes without saying. There’s poetic justice in the fact that racism, so dear to the hearts of the Bibi-ites, is what is keeping their Bibi in power, no matter what.

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