Yoaz Hendel is the embodiment of the beautiful Israeli. The most beautiful. If it were possible to print a 3-D version of the model of the beautiful Israeli as most Israelis would like to see it, it would come out like Hendel (or his fellow Kahol Lavan MK Hilik Tropper).
Handsome, raised on a settlement, formerly kippah-clad, Shayetet 13 naval commando, lieutenant colonel in the reserves, doctorate in Jewish history, lecturer on terrorism at Bar-Ilan university, author of the book “Let the IDF Win,” talk about the Chosen People slides naturally off his tongue, as if it bore some relation to reality.
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Head of the splendidly named Institute for Zionist Strategies, founder of a (likewise perfectly named) human rights organization, Blue-and-White Human Rights, devoted to preserving human rights and improving Israel’s standing, and whose findings are relayed to the IDF for investigation.
Member of the public council of Beit Hillel Rabbis and of Natal – the Israel Trauma and Resiliency Center, and of the board of Bshvil (which supports IDF combat veterans). Author of the book “In an Unsown Land: An Israeli Journey,” resident of a picturesque moshav in the Jerusalem hills.
What more could we ask for?
Hendel is the embodiment of the beautiful Israeli because he tells us that we can have it both ways, that we can have it all. This is just how we want to see ourselves – liberal and nationalist, moral and Zionist, occupiers and humanists, Jewish and democratic, secular but basing our claims on a divine promise, enlightened and believing in our exclusive right to the land, modern and seeing holiness in stones, Jewish and Israeli, moral and ethical, patriots who love to hike the Israel Trail and sing patriotic songs together, and of course to do reserve duty with the unit.
Hendel is the beautiful Israeli because for him, there is never any ugliness. The IDF is the most moral army, Israel is a beacon of justice, the occupation was imposed on us, we are really its victims. “It pains me that we have to do this, but there’s no choice,” he said about the horrors of the occupation. Israelis love this kind of thing: the Chosen People, but having no choice. The most moral, but this was all imposed on us. We shall never forgive the Arabs who force us to shoot their children.
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In an interview with Ravit Hecht on February 7, Hendel said: “I believe Arab culture is the jungle. There you find gross violations of every human right that we recognize in the West. They haven’t reached the stage of evolution in which there are human rights.”
An Israeli speaker, an enthusiastic supporter of the occupation – one of the cruelest tyrannies in the world – dares to speak about human rights and preach to others. This has to break the record for chutzpah and lack of self-awareness.
Hendel is the political center’s dream come true, which is why he found his place in Kahol Lavan. Neither right nor left, both right and left, something in the middle. This something in the middle is most often a right wing in disguise with a minority from the cowardly left. Hendel belongs to the first group. This is the dream, too: to get the best of all worlds, to be with and feel without.
Hendel is not a racist, God forbid; what is racist about him? He is a Zionist. And see how impressed he is with his doctor wife’s reports about how Arabs are treated in the hospitals, and he also enjoys seeing an Arab woman compete on “Master Chef.” What’s racist here? They will never obtain national rights, he said. A state? They can call it whatever they want. He’s not a hilltop settler who beats on Arabs. He’s not Itamar Ben-Gvir. He just understands what everybody understands.
But now his right-wing, nationalist, racist face has been revealed and the enlightened Israelis are beside themselves with anger. How dare he refuse to sit in a government with the Joint List? How dare he rip the mask off our faces? How dare he become so racist? That’s not who we are at all.