Opinion

Lucky No One Blamed ‘Flood Terror’

Flooding in Emunim, in central Israel.
Ilan Assayag

Channel 20’s diplomatic analyst, Shimon Riklin, marveled at the beauty of nature in a tweet last week, in which he described, “The water rushing through the streams, the level of the Kinneret breaking records, and Israel being flooded with water as never before, to the degree that it’s giving it to the neighbors.” (Why not add a little arrogance, as if the rain is registered in some land registry under the name of Benjamin Netanyahu.) 

Then he continued: “Of course you have to be careful of floods, but why is there no joy in the air from all this goodness?” One must remember that these sentimental poetics were being written after the murky skies flooded homes and streets and people drowned, partly because of official incompetence. 

This tweet reminded me of North Korea, where even nature smiles on the beloved leader. Riklin is known to be one of Netanyahu’s most fervent supporters, and such a tweet, coming from such a relentless promoter, signifies the disconnect between the leader and his circles, and the rest of the public. Instead of the leader going out to comfort his people, his minions implore the people to rejoice, and that the masses should speak of the beauty that floods the land of the forefathers.

We saw a scene reflecting a similar worldview the previous week, when Netanyahu announced that he planned to seek parliamentary immunity. Instead of appearing with bowed head, he stood tall with head high, and delivered a heroic speech about his accomplishments, turning in the blink of an eye from an accused to an accuser.

Israel is not a totalitarian state, but signs of such a regime are appearing here and there, like Riklin’s tweet and Netanyahu’s speech. Both addressed the public as if they were subjects. 

Riklin’s message was also that when faced with a natural disaster, one shouldn’t demonstrate panic or pain, or criticize the authorities’ failures. One must make every show of weakness disappear from our screens. Indeed! We must uproot any weakness in the national emotions. The public must be proud of nature, the strong currents, the ever-rising Lake Kinneret. One mustn’t get caught up in the problems of the little guy, which are dwarfed by the achievements of nature in our brave land. We must only regret that the government videographer didn’t show us those young heroes scoffing at the floods, and even swimming in newly created lakes. Too bad. 

The second message, this time from Netanyahu, expected the people to go out and celebrate – standing tall with heads high, of course – following the signing of the agreement to lay a gas pipeline to Greece. Why should the nation weep about the deterioration of the rule of law when it’s meant to be rejoicing?

In this context – if we’re already discussing the disasters that befell us these past two weeks – didn’t you feel that something was missing from all these events? Where was the incitement, right? Where was the prime minister and public security minister, Gilad Erdan, who, during the huge fires three years ago told various television outlets that the Arabs were the arsonists? Where are those huge headlines about “arson terrorism?” 

Isn’t it grand that floods, unlike the fires, are not the work of human beings, otherwise we would have gotten another term added to the incitement lexicon: “Flood terrorism.” 

It’s interesting that Netanyahu and Erdan have been practically absent from our screens these past two weeks. One can understand them, since circumstance didn’t provide them with an opportunity to incite and pit one community against another. The field, thank God, was left to ordinary, good people, who came out to help one another irrespective of their religion, race or gender. 

But did you think that Netanyahu might praise the efforts of those Arabs who hurried with their tractors to help those Nahariya residents trapped in the floodwaters? Don’t make me laugh.