The Questions Israel's Left Doesn't Ask Itself

The more you ridicule Netanyahu, the more you belittle his voters and lose any possibility of persuading them to your cause.

Ilan Assayag

The questions we ask ourselves are derived from the answers we want to receive.

That is why, as the election season progresses and it is increasingly dawning on even the very last members of the broader Ashkenazi liberal Zionist camp (including Meretz) that Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and his Likud party, not them, will form the next government, they have begun posing piercing questions such as, “How is it that so many people vote Likud, when Likud has been screwing them over for so many years?” and “Who are those people who keep buying empty bottles from this empty man, Bibi?” and otherwise expressing anger and disgust for people who don’t vote for the “right” parties.

The answers the questioners give themselves are amazingly varied: It’s because they’re idiots, because they don’t read books, because they believe in God and witchcraft, because they came from countries without a tradition of democracy, because they eat spicy food, because their parents didn’t found the state, because they don’t know right from wrong, can’t distinguish between good and bad, et cetera, et cetera.

To the questioners, of course, the right answer is “all of the above.” The nation won’t vote for Isaac Herzog because the nation is stupid.

Well, my dear Zionist Unionists, it could be that if you phrased the question differently, you’d get a different answer, perhaps even the right answer.

Suppose you ask yourselves this genuinely tough question: “How is it that despite the fact that Bibi is terrible and his government is as horrendous as you feel it to be, and Likud really does screw over, on a regular basis, precisely the people who vote for it — how is it that all these wretches don’t vote for us, who truly know what’s good for them. Why don’t they want our enlightened, unblemished government that will bring them joy and riches?”

Could it be that you play some tiny part in their not voting for you?

Could it be that the fact that you think, and say repeatedly, in all kinds of ways, that Likud voters are retarded idiots, doesn’t exactly encourage them to vote for you? Could it be that when you turn to them, this time as well, in your holy Ashkenazi liberal Zionist way, and say, “Bibi is a nightmare and anyone who voted for him — and especially anyone who will vote for him — is certifiably stupid,” it spurs them to dig in their heels out of spite?

Do you really think they’re so stupid they don’t realize when you patronize them and treat them as if they are stupid?

That approach boomerangs, clearly. Look at the polls. The more you attack and ridicule Netanyahu — the man they chose — the more you belittle them and their choice and cause them to reject you and to stick with their choice, with themselves.

It’s time to take a look in the mirror. If even now — when the rival team has two players who are suspended, an injured goalie, limping defenders, midfielders who are out of shape and not a single competent forward; when the players haven’t been paid for months and the coach has been replaced six times — you are still behind, what more can be said? That they’re a great team or that your team sucks?