The people had their say — there’s no point arguing about it — and their say was motivated by two emotions: fear and hatred. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the licensed agent of both; after all, he understands marketing. During all the years of his rule he went from door to door and sold Israelis these two in-demand items until they dominated the market.
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Whether he really believes in them, whether he hands them out cynically, Netanyahu stuck to those two items during the election campaign. Even on Election Day he used his despicable “buses of Arabs,” which may have won him another Knesset seat. That was more incitement for us.
Statesmen usually base their rule on stirring hope, but not in Israel. Here hope is dirt and fearmongering is the way. Netanyahu isn’t the first or last ruler to base his rule on fear and hatred, but he’s the only one who does so in such big doses and in a regime considered democratic.
But you can’t argue with success; it worked, boy did it work. True, a dry-as-dust candidate opposed him. True, Netanyahu cannibalized his own camp, but at the end of the day we sing the praise to the victor.
Thank you to the victor. His election has exposed the Israel of 2015. Only high levels of fear and hatred can explain the victory by Netanyahu — a rather unsuccessful prime minister and a not especially loved or admired one.
His Israel is afraid. It’s afraid of Arabs, Iranians, Africans and leftists. The Islamic State, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are synonyms. Israel also fears anti-Semitism, the Europeans and the Muslims. In fact, it fears the whole world, and that’s why it hates it.
That’s how Netanyahu has taught us, along with that even greater profiteer from fear and hatred — the media. For years the media has taught its clients the language of threats and risks, fearmongering and anxiety. Now parts of it are astonished by and even mourning Netanyahu’s victory.
The monster has risen against its creator. The media sowed the seeds of the calamity and got Israelis scared of every hooligan in Gaza, imam in London, Palestinian without a permit and African asylum seeker at the central bus station.
And then, when every tunnel is an existential threat and every centrifuge a holocaust, we need Netanyahu. When it’s forbidden to touch the defense budget, with all its submarines and wondrous planes, it’s clear horrible dangers lie in wait — and someone needs to stand up to them. And who if not Netanyahu, the conductor of the fearmongering orchestra? He’s the one who throws stones at windows and brings in the glazier.
A regional power that has every weapon known to man is motivated by existential fears, most of which are false and exaggerated, but only because there’s someone nurturing our brainwashed minds. The ally of the world’s only superpower — sometimes it’s not clear who’s the senior partner — wets its bed at night. Save us, everyone wants to throw us into the sea. What’s left? To scare and hate.
And the result: The Israel of the 2015 election is the most right-wing and nationalist Israel in history. It’s best to admit that. Zionist Union’s PR guru Reuven Adler can blame the improvised television debate as long as he wants, but those are a consultant’s excuses. His client never had a chance; he tried to instill hope, even if it was illusory. In a society plagued by fear and hatred, it has no place.
Now Israel deserves a government in its image: the most right-wing, religious and nationalist one yet. Only it knows how to cater to the people who voted for it: to spread more fear, to stoke more hatred. After all, the “buses of Arabs” paid for by those left-wing NGOs are on their way. Somebody has to stop them before we sense another disaster.
Gideon Levy tweets at @levy_haaretz