The Israeli Left's Faustian Pact to Defeat Netanyahu

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Benjamin Netanyahu at the arrival of the Pfizer/Biotech vaccine in Israel, Ben Gurion Airport, November 1, 2021.
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

A great election victory is shaping up for March: An Israel Channel 13 News survey from Thursday gives the anti-Netanyahu bloc a firm majority, with 66 Knesset seats. A new bloc, and the dawn of a new day for Israel. Yesh Atid, New Hope, Yisrael Beiteinu, the Joint List, the Labor Party, Meretz and Kahol Lavan in one big, united bloc, “brothers dwelling together.”

This is the face of the dream-team government that will follow from the sweet victory: Yair Lapid with Benny Gantz, Merav Michaeli with Gideon Sa’ar, Nitzan Horowitz with Avigdor Lieberman, perhaps Naftali Bennett too, and the wolves shall dwell with the lambs. Who says the election isn’t important? It’s critical. The tyrant will be sent home, and perhaps even to prison. What more could we ask for?

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The surveys have stopped counting left and right. They’re right. In this election there is no left and right, it’s doubtful there ever was. Either their differences were not differences, or loathing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drove certain parties over the edge. It’s hard to say which is worse; both are depressing. For now the great union exists only in the opinion polls, but they not only predict outcomes, they also create them. The years of loathing Netanyahu have taken their toll: It’s hard to believe any of these party leaders would join his government. They are more likely to cooperate to guarantee his exit.

Everything would then be set aside – ideology, ethics, integrity, the lessons of the past – for the sake of the greater goal, which will justify any means. That is insanity. Ask the Balfour Street protesters, and they’ll tell you it’s a dream come true. Ask these parties’ voters, and at least some will say that no purpose could be higher. For the sake of removing Netanyahu, anything can be pardoned. It’s a campaign to save Israel. It won’t be considered opportunism or forgoing one’s principles, it will be an emergency lifesaving procedure.

And then morning will come, and Israel will awaken to the new reality. It will be revealed as the worst possible option. Saccharine declarations of unity have always ended badly – unity is uniformity and paralysis – but no one has ever thought of this kind of unity. If we subtract the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties, which will neither join nor be invited to the celebration, it currently seems like a reasonable option, the will of half the nation. Lapid and Sa’ar, perhaps, as rotating prime ministers, and all the rest as a cheerleading squad. Joy will wash over Tel Aviv and its satellite communities, many Israelis will feel that they have emerged from darkness into light. And then the greater darkness will fall.

If such a government is established, it will be clear that Israel no longer has any ideology, and of course no left wing. One land, one nation, one party, one opinion. The tone will be dictated by the right, always the right, and all the rest will toe the line, in the best tradition. The process of erasing the left, which began long ago, will reach its peak. Recovery is doubtful. The idea that joining a Sa’ar-Lieberman government could be a legitimate move for the center-left says it all. Loathing of Netanyahu beat everything. The slight awkwardness that might be felt initially will give way to another great, old loathing, loathing of the Haredim: This government will be free of them, another dream come true.

Israel will continue not to know what do about the coronavirus. The settlers will continue to flourish, to rob and to disinherit. Asylum seekers will continue to be hunted viciously, with racism. Defense spending will continue to balloon, while spending on health, education, social services and the environment will continue to starve in its shadow. Iran will continue to be a greater danger than it actually is, as will several other imaginary dangers that Israel cannot live without.

The world will cheer, Joe Biden will lend support, a great sigh of relief.

The Palestinians will continue to bleed on the side of the road, the occupation will continue to abuse and humiliate them, Israel will continue to be an apartheid state.

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