The Masses Really Are Asses

Am I arrogant? Or are the arrogant ones those who promise today, in the hope that you will forget tomorrow. Those who treat you like golems, after having created you with their own hands.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement on August 20, 2014 in Tel Aviv.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Public opinion deserted him during Operation Protective Edge. It's always like that with wars.Credit: AFP
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

This is an arrogant column, because it is a haughty man who writes it. The writer of these lines finds it difficult to speak “at eye level” when the eyes in question are closed or downcast. From his experience, he has learned that, as they say in Yiddish, “der oilem iz a goilem” (the masses are asses).

The Gaza war was started by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with more than 80 percent of the public supporting it and him. That’s the way they always start, wars.

Not a month went by and the prime minister’s popularity plummeted. Channel 2 has subtracted 50 percent of his support from him, while Haaretz only 30 percent. How the mighty have fallen in the surveys, losing the hope of war.

What does this say about Netanyahu? Not a lot. He was and remains the same “Bibi.” But this does say a lot about “public opinion,” and perhaps about some of you “people who think.” Maybe next time you will think: Tell it not to the pollsters, lest the ministers rejoice too much.

Indeed, a great wind also filled the sails of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz and ex-IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, propelling them forward; yes, the Second Lebanon War was necessitated by the reality just like all the preceding and subsequent wars, and all its victims did not fall in vain. So what is this “sourness” about, and why does it only come at the end and never at the start?

Thus it was in Operations Hot Winter and Days of Penitence, and Operations Rainbow, Pillar of Defense and Cast Lead – every operation has a name given it by a computer. Who remembers? Only the parents.

It’s not only during wartime that we see a marching in step here: right, left, right. Menachem Begin, for a change, made peace. Departing for Camp David standing erect and proud, he promised to return to his new home in Naot Sinai; mezuzahs would yet be nailed up on the doorposts of Yamit. Upon his return – more hunched over and less erect – he dejectedly announced the evacuation of all Israeli settlements in the Sinai Peninsula. The same applause that accompanied him when he was determined greeted him when he was drained – and the same claque.

He recovered quickly – “Begin at his best” – and waged war against Yasser Arafat, “the man with hair on his face.” There was never a war as blessed as that war on Arafat, nor was there ever any war as cursed. Even its memorial days have been consigned to oblivion and deleted from diaries. The “public” that cheered upon going into Lebanon was the same one that jeered upon coming out of it, 18 years later. Fickle “public opinion” is right when it is wrong, because it is the client – and who is going to bad-mouth the client?

The public also voiced its opinion three years ago, when hundreds of thousands flocked to the city squares demanding “social justice.” And look at what they did, the idiots, and to the hope that awakened. They ran to the voting booths and elected Yair Lapid. Now they are having regrets, as is their wont, and soon they will have even more reasons for regret.

Security, according to the protesters, lies in education. But they place the sword of budget cuts firstly upon the necks of the students and the teachers – for education can wait. And it’s the education minister himself who justifies the decree, as though the security establishment has a dearth of character witnesses: “War costs money,” Education Minister Shay Piron tells us.

But even when there’s a budget cut, there will be no reduction in “Jewish culture,” “Jewish heritage,” “love of the land” and the Holocaust. The future of “our children” as patriot-racists, good Jews and total ignoramuses from God’s own mouth is ensured. It’s too bad that Piron didn’t see fit to open the school year at a bilingual, Jewish-Arab school, which would have made learning “significant,” to use one of his favorite buzzwords.

Yes, I am arrogant. But there is also another possibility. Let’s think about it together. Maybe the arrogant ones among us are actually those for whom the weather vane is a compass. Those who lick and then spit. Those who promise today, in the hope that you will forget tomorrow. Those who treat you like golems after having created you with their own hands. Maybe it is they who are arrogant, and it is against them that you are not rising up.

And I’ll tell you a secret: I am not suffering. In fact, I enjoy standing with my face to the wind.