Opinion

The Government's Way: Fear and Hatred

Employing fear is Netanyahu's most authoritative baritone but not to worry, it almost always comes with salvation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Jerusalem, December 12, 2018.
AFP

Here’s how the scare tactics work: Attack tunnels inside our territory are exposed. Great job, excellent work. Important news. We discovered them and we sealed them up. Very good. I’m not belittling the uncovering of the tunnels, not at all. The army did what an army should do. A worthy front page news item – that ought to go down at the bottom next to the report on the National Insurance Institute’s bankruptcy.

But that’s not how the scare tactic works. The fear factor rises to the main headline, it leads off the news broadcasts, the prime minister freely employs his most authoritative baritone. Words like “determination” and “heroism” flutter about like butterflies in springtime. The television reporters don their combat Uniqlos, military correspondent Roni Daniel’s thick eyebrows merge into a single forbidding line and everyone rejects the notion of any connection between the length of the tunnels and the depth of the investigations involving the prime minister.

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It’s nice that the operation is going well. Going well? people say to me, are you kidding? It’s a Hanukkah miracle, it’s the few against the many. Yes it is, if one blurs the fact that you’ve got an army of half a million fighting an army of 20,000, but that’s what there is and it must be milked for maximum effect. Okay, so we’ve been able to tamp down the scary kites and balloons, and now we’re going to vanquish the scary tunnels.

And you folks in Tel Aviv shouldn’t go thinking that you’re immune. Don’t think you can just quietly sip your espresso on Sheinkin or wherever you sip it. The tunnels are on the way to you, everything is still possible. One night, in the middle of your Shabbat meal, a bearded Hezbollah fighter will burst up from below. Don’t be complacent, make sure you check each night before going to sleep, keep your ear to the floor tiles and listen for the sound of dull thuds underneath. This will help you. At least as much as the sealed room helped in the Gulf War.

But not to worry, you’ll never be left alone with the fear. The fear doesn’t come alone, it’s always part of a pair. It always comes along with salvation. Fear and salvation, salvation and fear, two shows for the price of one. Fear and salvation are the key to control, they are the pyromaniac that lights a fire and immediately rushes to put it out. Sending an undercover cell into Gaza and saving us from Hamas, shooting down a Russian plane and hastening to strengthen ties with Putin that have never been better.

The trouble begins when there is only fear and no salvation. Forty percent of the region’s only democracy are scared of Arab doctors, 43 percent of the inhabitants of the villa in the jungle are alarmed to hear Arabic spoken in public places (according to a Channel 10 survey). Thirty percent of the population of the high-tech superpower would prefer separate maternity wards for Jewish and Arab women (according to a survey by professors Keshet and Popper-Givon).

Is this fear? Or hatred? A bit of both. Fear and hatred fuel one another. A low level of education correlates with an increase in support for separation, the survey’s authors wrote. In Afula they’re scared of Arabs and in Haifa they’re not. The Afulans are weak and the Haifans are not; Haifa flourished and Afula was forgotten. Afula ranks 127th in the Central Bureau of Statistics’ socioeconomic index. They’re afraid there of Arab grocers, teachers and construction workers. The weak fear those who are weaker than them. It’s the fear of victim’s revenge, the fear that he’ll do to us what we do to him.

Fear and hatred cause people to unite. Woe unto him who doesn’t hate and doesn’t fear. Fear also gets to the good folks. Out of 50,000 Afula residents, not a single righteous person stood up to say that he is not like that, that he is not afraid. In Germany, too, fear silenced the ordinary folks. A thousand educational trips to Poland and a million solemn Holocaust Remembrance Days in Israel won’t convince the Afulans that they’re walking down the same path the Germans walked. It doesn’t bother them that they talk about Arabs the way the Germans talked about Jews. And even if they were to be persuaded of a similarity, they’d just say – Okay, so what?