It was sickening to see — on the streets, in the restaurant with the French name, on Facebook and in most of the comments on news sites — the outpouring of schadenfreude. “You all deserved it,” “It’s because of the labeling of settlement products.” Malicious hatred and joy. And it wasn’t “only” the tens of thousands of “shares” on social media, the writings of journalist and media personality Dan Margalit and the gang surrounding the right-wing Israeli rapper Yoav Eliasi (“The Shadow”). It was the voice of a huge proportion of the population, in a state that is incited and navigated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through a sea of lies. It was the pronouncement of Rabbi Dov Lior in his eulogy at the funeral on Saturday night of Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his son Netanel, who were killed in a West Bank terror attack on Friday: “This is the start of God’s punishment of the anti-Semitic Europeans.” President Reuven Rivlin, at his side, did not protest. Netanyahu has described Lior as the commando unit leading the Jewish nation. Under Netanyahu, Lior’s remark becomes the motto in whose light the nation is led.
Israel Prize laureate Eli Alalouf, Rachel Azaria, Merav Ben Ari, Roy Folkman — all of them Knesset members from the moderate wing of Kulanu — are not racist, fascist or opportunistic. Some I know personally. It is inconceivable that they don’t see what Israel has become under Netanyahu. It’s impossible to avert one’s gaze from the widening river of incitement, which since the March election has turned torrential. What began with inflaming crowds to cry out in ecstasy, “Rabin the traitor,” and continued with the whisper, “The left forgot what it means to be Jewish,” has this year become a flood that is drowning Israel and transforming its culture.
The incitement against Israeli-Arab voting rights; the decision to bring Kahanist hilltop inciter Daniella Weiss into the Likud campaign; the choice of a court singer who wrote, “The left is Satan,” the declaration that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews”; the Netanyahus’ hairdresser saying “Israel must execute Ahmed Tibi” — all this is changing the nation. Netanyahu did not fire the stylist nor ask the attorney general to investigate a possible crime. On the contrary, it looks like the entrance exam for the court.
In the War of Independence, approximately one out of every 100 Jews in pre-state Jewish population died, comparable to 65,000 people today. In the Yom Kippur War, it was one out of 1,000, or 6,500 today. But despite the terror then, there were no mob attacks on Arabs as there were recently after 13 Jews were murdered. It’s not the situation. It’s the leader. Such leaders change their nations.
When the leader recklessly incites racism while creating enormous, crazy-making socioeconomic gaps, in addition to the wanton personal conduct of a crooked court — the lines have been crossed. It can’t be that Alalouf doesn’t see or know this. He grew up with “liberté, égalité, fraternité. There is nothing more twisted than making Israel racist and turning its citizens into a raging, Islamic State-like mob – in the name of the false defense against the Islamic State.
Alalouf, Azaria, Ben Ari and Folkman have a unique opportunity. A once-in-a-generation opportunity. Any one of them, by himself or herself, has the power to simultaneously rescue Israel and stop Netanyahu’s madness. One vote against the budget and Netanyahu falls.
Of course it’s not easy. But more than Moshe Kahlon brought Alalouf to the Knesset, the poverty-fighting Israel Prize winner brought the finance minister to where he is today. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. One vote. One time. And the madness ends. The control of the media, the incitement, the greed, the socioeconomic gaps, the stylists, the billion-shekel palace. One vote.
Will Israel be saved on Thursday? Will someone find the courage?
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