Opinion

Who’s Afraid of Netanyahu?

We need Israelis who understand that Netanyahu once again inflamed the ancient internal conflict of the Jews within their own state

Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, D.C., U.S., on March 7, 2018.
Bloomberg

“That was scary, wasn’t it?” Benjamin Netanyahu said mockingly to his opposition rivals after the Zionist Union volunteered to avert the early election scenario. They deserve it. The problem is, Netanyahu isn’t the only one who smells their fear.

After Ehud Barak persuaded the left that there’s “no partner” on the Palestinian side, the left had no more stones to turn. Since then the myth that there’s “no substitute” for Netanyahu became fixated. The Netanyahu phenomenon became symptomatic of the difficulty of imagining a political way out for Israel. “Bibi” is the historic status quo, the flight from choice, the avoidance of a decision. Bibi is neither two states nor one state, neither to divide nor to annex, neither Jewish nor democratic. Netanyahu blocked history’s course with his own body. Barack Obama, the nuclear agreement, the European Union – all threats that Netanyahu foiled. The future is dangerous to the Jews. Only Bibi is good for them.

During the Labor leadership primaries, Barak said that if a special committee had chosen a candidate, it would have picked Avi Gabbay. As stupid as it sounds, he meant it as a compliment. Elections on the left are an educated affair, in the stupid, scientific sense of the word. Well – in politics it works as in love. You can’t persuade yourself to love someone just because a panel of experts decided that you’re suitable.

The opposition should have jumped at the opportunity to topple this awful government. If it doesn’t understand that, it will never win, even it has “worthy” people in it. A fighting spirit isn’t only words or a spice that a political candidate sprinkles around, but a basic instinct, something physical. If the opposition doesn’t have it – why do we need elections in November 2019? We can wait for Netanyahu to die of ripe old age.

There must be people in Israel who aren’t afraid of Netanyahu. It’s not enough to hate him. We need people who aren’t impressed by his wisdom, amazed by his knowledge or blinded by his diplomatic “skills.” People who see his weaknesses and discern his historic fraudulent scheme; people who can see, and not just recite their criticism of him.

We need people who can see the destruction that Netanyahu himself – not the right, not Likud, not his voters, all of whom are his victims no less than the “left” – wreaked here. We need Israelis who detect the retreat of the modern sovereign enterprise of the Jewish people, which Netanyahu brought about when he stuck his hand into the relatively fresh Jewish-Israeli seam and unstitched it.

We need Israelis who understand that Netanyahu operated like a Jewish agent from the galut, sometimes like a Jewish vote contractor at the heart of American politics. People who understand that because of him Israelis find themselves trapped – in their own country – in the same double loyalty catch that ensnared French and German Jews in the past, and which exposed them to anti-Semitic hatred. This is precisely the trap that establishing the state was meant to release them from. We need Israelis who understand that Netanyahu again inflamed the ancient internal conflict of the Jews within their own state.

If it’s about being a Jew with Israeli citizenship, rather than being an Israeli just like a Frenchman is French and a German is German – then how is life in Israel different from life in a ghetto, even if the ghetto walls, like the separation wall, are of your own doing?

And who wants to live in a ghetto, even it has a modern airport? Who wants to work in ghetto, even if the wages are reasonable? Who wants to write books in a ghetto, or paint? Who wants to sit in cafes in a ghetto? Who wants to fall in love in a ghetto?