Opinion

The Long Shadow Cast by Israel's Right-wing Politicians

Influencial Far-right rapper The Shadow translates to the masses what the suits like Minister Gilad Erdan and party leader Yair Lapid say in sanitized terms

Yoav Eliasi, aka The Shadow.
Ilan Assayag

The main difference between Israeli rapper, Facebook enthusiast and influential far-right activist Yoav Eliasi - aka "The Shadow" – and "respected" Israeli right-wing politicians such as MK Yair Lapid or public security minister Gilad Erdan lies in the different language they use. Not in what they say.

Last week "The Shadow" uploaded to his popular Facebook page a video in response to the participation of Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg in a demonstration against the occupation outside the AIPAC conference in Washington.

“Tamar Zandberg, the chief garbage bin, or the deputy trash can to be exact, flew today or yesterday to Washington. There is an AIPAC conference there over 2,000 people demonstrating for BDS, pro-Palestinians demonstrating against the state, terrorists in short and Tamar Zandberg stands there with a megaphone and gives a speech for BDS and against Israel."

Then he added:

“We have a fifth column in Israel, and the fifth column is not the Arab parties. The fifth column is called Meretz, a party that undermines Israel, that promotes boycotting Israel. They are unfaithful traitors, losers and human trash, whom I don’t understand how any sane person could support."

His crass, ugly, violent and inciting words were in fact an infantile translation of the messages that the politicians with gel-slicked hair and expensive suits have already laid out before. While they sought to plant in the collective Israeli consciousness anger and hate toward dark and demonic archetypes, "The Shadow" used simple, populist language to give expression to those same ideas. Eliasi's role is actually not to be the Shadow but precisely the opposite – to extract from the shadows all those ideas planted by the men in suits, and feed them to the hungry masses.

Those experienced politicians know how to plant ideas and incite without being perceived as being aggressive.  “To the world they talk the language of peace but at the same time they sanctify violence and incitement, as well as lies,” said Lapid last January while speaking about the [left-wing] Breaking the Silence organization.

For his part, Erdan said after the last wave of wildfires in Israel, that most of the blazes were set deliberately.  “At least half of them were a result of arson,” he claimed, despite the fact that security authorities stated that it was too early to determine that.

"The Shadow" is doing two great things for the suits. First, he takes “great” ideas from people like Erdan, who has also created a database of proponents of BDS, and brings them down to earth. He takes a term like “boycott supporters” and simplifies it into “unfaithful traitors,” “losers,” “human trash."

He also fills in the conceptual gaps. Erdan and Lapid wouldn’t dare say Meretz is a fifth column or a party that undermines Israel. But the fact that they don’t use those words doesn’t mean they aren’t expressing the same ideas. They can rest assured that "The Shadow" will be there to translate their messages to his army of followers.