Republican Party consultant Arthur Finkelstein was the one who let Benjamin Netanyahu in on the secret: It’s about being Jewish, not Israeli. He told Netanyahu that there is only one question to pose in Israel: “Are you more Israeli or more Jewish?” If the answer is “Israeli,” he elaborated, the person facing you is a leftist. If the answer is “Jewish” he’s on the right side of the map. That’s the entire story, said Finkelstein.
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This distinction marked the onset of the campaign of destruction. Netanyahu understood and internalized these words. If he tore off the Israeli identity he would guarantee the rule of the right wing, his own rule. Netanyahu made a decision to turn Israel into Judea.
Netanyahu hates Israel or, rather, the Israeli envelope that’s cloaked the underlying Jewish basis. From his perspective this cloak hides a basic truth: Israel is intended for Jews only. It was established as a refuge from the Gentiles – after all, his father had told him all about the Spanish Inquisition. Of pogroms and the Holocaust he learned by reading on his own.
Netanyahu well understood who his allies were on this journey – religious Zionists and Mizrahi Jews (of Middle Eastern descent). With regard to religious Zionists there was no problem. Their Jewish character naturally supersedes the Israeli one. They would provide the “ideological fuel” that would stoke the destructive machinery. They would do so with complete devotion, unhindered by any doubts, and God help us all.
With Mizrahi Jews the story was different: The racism and condescending attitude of Ben-Gurion’s Mapai-ruled establishment had anyway driven most of them to Menachem Begin’s Likud party (“our brethren,” he called them). But Netanyahu did not stop at that. He knew full well that a sense of being discriminated against and slighted can heal over time. He also knew where Mizrahi Jews’ soft spot was. It was the Jewish-European attitude of others, one which views them as Arabs. This was the attitude that drove them to augment and intensify – within themselves and outwardly – their Jewish aspects, in order to prove that they aren’t like that, that they aren’t Arabs.
Netanyahu realized that his mission was to constantly remind Mizrahi Jews that this attitude is still present. He obviously tried to conceal the mechanism, but from time to time the cogwheels peeped through. Meni Naftali, the housekeeper at the Netanyahu residence, revealed that Sara Netanyahu scolded him, saying that “we’re Europeans, we’re delicate; we don’t eat as much as you Moroccans.”
Nahum Barnea wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth about a conversation in which Netanyahu told Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon: “You’ll never get the votes of the Mizrahi Jews. Only I know how to get them. I know who they hate. They hate Arabs. And I know how to deliver these goods.”
And this is how he delivered: He demonizes Arab Israelis. This isn’t done just so Arab citizens feel they don’t belong here, but also in order to make Mizrahi Jews remember and not forget – if you don’t continually hone your Jewish elements we may get confused and start thinking that you too don’t belong here.
Netanyahu has forced Mizrahi Jews to remove their external layers of “Israeliness” and highlight their Jewishness. The fanatic La Familia group of soccer fans, with their racism and symbols, should be understood as an inevitable corollary of this process. The linkage of La Familia and the Lehava group which rails against miscegenation should be perceived as a symbolic emblem of the destructive coalition (Mizrahi plus religious) that Netanyahu has concocted.
Netanyahu hates Israelis. Not Jews – Israelis. He hates anyone feeling comfortable with adding further layers of identity on top of the Jewish baseline. His historic mission is to dismantle these extra layers, or in practice to dismantle our “Israeliness.”
Thus, when Netanyahu met kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri in 1997, whispering in his ears that “the left have forgotten what being Jewish means,” he was proceeding precisely according to this plan, intended to bring to the surface the ultimate formula of destruction. From now on, every scrap of reality would be reduced into a binary language of Jewish or Israeli. In order to conceal the underlying racist nature of this process, other codes would be used, namely – right or left.
In other words: Life in Israel under Netanyahu has been broken down into particles. Each particle must go through a coded filter. The code is simple: Jew = right-wing = loyal = good Israeli; left = traitor = bad.
There is no way of evading this filter unless one doesn’t accept its rules. However, the rules are never openly stated. They always work under the surface. They are followed by polling consultants who analyze people’s minds and by leaders involved in game theory. Actual people, the citizens, are merely pawns on a chessboard. They’re moved from side to side, manipulated emotionally as well as through their sense of identity and mode of thinking.
Netanyahu hates Israel. Not Judea, only its manifestation as Israel. Israelis haven’t internalized this fact yet. They still speak his language. Every word they utter dismantles more and more layers of “Israeliness.” By the time they fully realize what’s going on, it may be too late and Israel will no longer exist. At least not in ways Israelis had intended it to be.
If Netanyahu still has a shred of compassion, of decency, a remnant of mercy; if Netanyahu still holds some childhood memory of Israel, of his days in the army; if in some hidden corner of his soul he still holds a pure Israeli sensibility, free of venom, a feeling devoid of feelings of persecution, guilt and superiority – he must release us from his grasp and his inner turmoil.
Yes, Bibi, you’ve managed to bring the Zionist project down to its knees; yes, you’ve managed to shatter the dreams of so many people, held for so many generations. Now give us a chance to live. Not only as Jews, but as Israelis. Give us a chance to be normal. Stop the campaign of destruction.