With Bennett as Prime Minister, Political Power Is in Israeli Settlers’ Hands

Carolina Landsmann
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An Israeli flag at the West Bank settlement outpost of Evyatar, two days ago.
Carolina Landsmann

No problem. We can continue being infuriated by Likud legislator David Amsalem’s outrageous style of speech. Did you know that he screamed this week at the chairman of the Knesset Arrangements Committee, Boaz Toporovsky, that he should be hospitalized?

Yes, he really did. Uri Misgav wrote about it in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition. We can also have fun quarreling with the “boys” about the air conditioning in trains under the leadership of Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli (“nobody beats her”), or join the battle of Yamina lawmaker Idit Silman (“she’s not a little girl, she’s a grown-up, independent woman”).

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That’s how we can pass the time until the budget passes, or basically until Likud replaces Benjamin Netanyahu, or to be on the safe side, until a decisive verdict involving moral turpitude is handed down against him, or in the best-case scenario, until Netanyahu dies at a ripe old age. Why take unnecessary chances?

The strategy is clear: “We” are in power, so please observe the code of silence. Anyone who breaks it is purist, ill-tempered, a fifth column, a Bibi loyalist. The nice ones explain that in real life you sometimes have to make compromises – sure, like crowning Naftali Bennett the head of the left.

Wait, so what are you suggesting, bring back Bibi? No, I’m suggesting that we keep screwing over the Arabs, surrender to the settlers, cultivate the Iran obsession and keep surrounding ourselves with firewalls and race walls around our wonderful Jewish ghetto, but that we should do it, not Bibi and Miri Regev and Miki Zohar and David Amsalem and Amir Ohana. The good old Greater Israel.

But maybe for the sociology and anthropology fans among us, we should mention what Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked – the poster child of Israeli fascism until recently and now the darling of the national left – tweeted about the compromise deal by the settlers at Evyatar.

“I thank Defense Minister Benny Gantz for his contribution to finding a solution, to Prime Minsiter Naftali Bennett for his full dedication, to [settler leader] Yossi Dagan, to Rabbi Levanon and [settlement activist] Daniella Weiss [for] outstanding leadership and indefatigable work for the Land of Israel,” she declared. She also thanked “last, but not least, the Evyatar pioneers who display with total devotion what Zionism is.” She added: “May they continue taking part in the development and prosperity of the Land of Israel.”

The agreement between the government and the settler criminals – who chalked up a victory last week on par with the pioneering settlement of Elon Moreh – is anything but a compromise. On the contrary, describing it in terms of a surrender also misses the point. Who exactly surrendered here?

When we pull out of the sand our heads buried because of realpolitik and look properly at the makeup of the government – again, established out of necessity to replace Netanyahu – we have to reconsider the ideological hothouse of its leader, Bennett, the former head of the Yesha Council of settlements, and his partner Shaked. And when we do so, we start to be reminded that there are no ideological gaps between them and the “Evyatar pioneers,” as Shaked described them.

Thus, this agreement is between two sides of one mind who have identical interests. They don’t have to compromise on anything, they only have to correctly wage their joint struggle. Calling the willingness of the Evyatar lawbreakers to be evacuated without violent resistance a “compromise” merely emphasizes the political power in the settlers’ hands. Really, a big thank you to those who agreed to obey the law nonviolently, for why should they behave violently? They don’t need that anymore. They hold the reins of power, for God’s sake.

They are the law: Bennett as prime minister, Shaked at the Interior Ministry, Gideon Sa’ar as justice minister. Yes, okay, did you see how deplorable the opposition is? It makes you “physiologically ill,” Misgav wrote. We must replace the opposition.

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