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The Only Alternative Is the Joint List. The Rest Are Pale Imitations of Bibi

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh at the Knesset, Jerusalem, September 11, 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh at the Knesset, Jerusalem, September 11, 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The four candidates with a chance of being elected prime minister are all painfully similar. Don’t believe the fairy tales about a great ideological chasm between them. Fundamentally, they are identical: All are Zionist Jews who support the occupation, devotees of Jewish supremacy in Israel. They are in favor of the settlers and settlements, and would never dream of stopping them. They will never criticize the army for its misbegotten actions and they sanctify every violent operation by Israel. War crimes? International law? Palestinian rights? Don’t make them laugh. They all toed exactly the same line regarding the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Lapid, Gideon Sa’ar and Naftali Bennett are all the same. They promise occupation and Jewish supremacy forever. They are Jewish-Israeli nationalists who speak the same exact language on the issues that really matter.

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It would be good for Israel if none of them were elected. We’ve had more than enough of them and their ilk. But in the present reality, one of them will surely be the next prime minister.

Of the four of them, Netanyahu is clearly preferable. He’s the most talented, intelligent and experienced of the bunch. The criminal charges against him, which in a proper society would prevent him from continuing to serve, although the law here allows it, have to be settled in court. Leaving aside the charges, he is certainly the most impressive figure of the four.

Contrary to popular thinking, he is also the least dangerous of them. Lapid, Sa’ar and Bennett will get us mixed up in a war a lot more quickly than he will. They’ll want to prove themselves, which in Israel is measured in war, or at least in warmongering. Netanyahu doesn’t need to do that.

There’s also no guarantee that they’ll deal with the coronavirus better than he has, more likely the opposite will be true. Along with the failures, Netanyahu has chalked up some impressive achievements in this regard.

Therefore anyone who’s content to live in an apartheid state, who could care less about justice for the Palestinians and for whom the occupation is nothing more than an annoying buzz in the ear, should vote for Netanyahu. He’s the lesser evil, even if his way of life is disgusting and the charges against him are very serious; but the court will pronounce on that. Let’s remind the purists who get outraged over corruption that the biggest, deepest corruption is the occupation, which they hardly even mention.

The only real alternative to Netanyahu is the Joint List. Bibi or Tibi, 2.0. Between Bibi and Tibi lies the only decisive chasm in Israeli politics. Between Bibi and Ayman Odeh passes the watershed of Zionism, whose time is past and whose damage to Israel’s moral image is piling up. Between the Likud and Balad likes the clear choice between Jewish supremacy and equality.

In the space between Likud and the Joint List, there are only pale imitations of Netanyahu or deceptive candidates mainly designed to give voters a pleasant sense of enlightenment even though they’re not different, subversive or revolutionary enough for what needs to happen. The jargon is different, it goes down easier, but it’s deceiving: The Zionist left has been leading people astray for 100 years. Israel will not be different under any one of its parties. Just more of the same: living eternally by the sword, intimidation and incitement, dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinians, and endless playing of the victim card and wallowing in the Jewish past.

In the space between Bibi and Tibi there’s Yesh Atid, Labor and Meretz. No leftist would ever vote for a nationalist like Lapid, who blindly and automatically defends the IDF like a good right-winger. Merav Michaeli rightly inspires a lot of admiration, but hers is the founding party of the occupation – Labor will not be the one to do anything substantial to end it, not even with her as the leader. And Meretz is living on the fumes of the past. With a general in its top tier who says the IDF never committed war crimes – leftist voters have nothing to find there.

So we’re left with Tibi. Tibi or Bibi. The choice should be clear enough. 

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