The demonstrations outside the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street are not bringing the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule any closer. If anything, they are pushing it farther away.
The slogans on many of the posters, some of the flags (the verbal ones as well), the exhibitionist behavior of a few demonstrators who offend the state’s symbols, and the media’s total dedication to justify, promote and sanitize these occurrences – lead to the exclusion of Netanyahu’s opponents on the right.
Anyone with minimal political sense understands that only when right-wing people join the demonstrations would it be possible to change the residents of the house on Balfour Street. But the protests are conducted in such a way that they’re seen as radical left demonstrations even by the right wing that is fed up with Netanyahu.
Conservatives don’t believe in the demonstrations’ declared goal – ending the government chaos. Although in this matter rightists feel the same as leftists, the protests’ political and social messages push many people who have despaired of Netanyahu closer to him again.
A similar effect occurred on the eve of the 2015 election. Then too, “thanks” to an unrestrained media’s siding with Isaac Herzog, at the last moment rightists who had had enough of Netanyahu already then changed their minds and voted for him.
This media behavior, which fires up the demonstrators rather than making do with accurate, proportionate coverage of them, is now recurring – and just when there’s a reasonable chance, more than ever before, to convince many on the right that Netanyahu’s continued reign causes huge damage to the state, some of it irrevocable.
In view of this, it’s clear why right-wing Israelis keep away from the demonstrations. But there’s also another possibility. In Israel there’s a right-wing camp of considerable quality and size, whose first concern is the good of the nation and the state, unlike the right that worships the ambition and greed of one man.
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This is the camp that should be out in the streets now. This is the camp that bears the moral and political duty to lead the protest against the man who is leading the people and state into an abyss, and against those who are helping him do so. Only this camp, due to the specific caliber of its leaders and tens of thousands of members, can shake up the foundations of the house on Balfour Street and of those elements in Likud that want to survive. Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, as well as intellectuals and religious leaders who answer to that description, must take to the streets to advance a government free of corruption and bias; a government that fights without personal and sectorial considerations against the pandemic that is causing disease, death and social and economic distress.
Although these people will hold separate demonstrations, in which the behavior will be worlds apart from that of the existing protests, Netanyahu will attack their leaders mercilessly and accuse them of joining the left to topple the right – that is, himself – from power.
His ministers, tweeters and eunuchs will parrot his accusations. The lives of the right-wing demonstration leaders won’t be easy, but that is exactly the test of leadership, and it will also yield long-range political benefit.
Without such a leadership display – if not now, Bennett and Shaked, when? – the ideological right will be, as it has been of late, irrelevant to Netanyahu. Only the recognition that the ideological right is sick and tired of Netanyahu’s rule can shake up those who follow him like blind lemmings. Only a rebellion against everything he stands for can revive the right and ensure its continued rule.