An Israeli Tragedy

To hope that Netanyahu could heal our society of its psychosis is to be blind to, or in denial of, historical truth.

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Netanyahu next to the father of two of the three teens abducted and murdered in the West Bank during their sons' funeral, July 1, 2014.
Netanyahu next to the father of two of the three teens abducted and murdered in the West Bank during their sons' funeral, July 1, 2014.Credit: Reuters

The avengers’ protest on Facebook and in the streets was a reaction to the manipulation of the instincts and yearnings of Israeli society. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s PR line has boomeranged on us. We now see that the real power of his words finds expression precisely when they are translated into Hebrew. The flammable material he uses to such dramatic effect in English on all the world’s stages, without gaining any significant PR achievements, in Hebrew are transformed into ultranationalist explosive material that ignites the masses.

The protest was not a spontaneous response to the kidnapping of the three teenagers in the West Bank. From the time of their abduction until the discovery of their bodies, Israeli society proved that it was capable of bearing up when its leader bore a message of hope, however unlikely. Israelis were asked to believe the impossible, and they did. The protest came as a response from people in whom hope was awakened, artificially and manipulatively, as a cover for punitive measures.

For more than two weeks we were asked to pray, sing, hope and come together, and for naught. Netanyahu knew there truly was no hope, nothing to pray for. He knew there was no real reason to send the teens’ mothers to address the United Nations. He made us all his partners in a false attempt to prevent what had already happened, in a partnership that would be understood in retrospect as collective guilt, a guilt that would demand expiation through vengeance.

This is not new. Like the advertisers who seek to generate maximum profit from artificially induced sexual arousal, who sell us ice pops in phallic wrappers, Netanyahu exports and then reimports Israel’s ongoing regime of oppression, in the wrapper of the memory of the Holocaust. Netanyahu, an expert in marketing, has brought the manipulation of our collective feelings as a society to new cynical heights. We have never been stronger, nor felt our victimhood more strongly, than under his leadership.

It is arrogant to think that people’s feelings can be played with, artificially heated and cooled for various purposes, without losing control over them in the end. We are witnesses to a society that has lost restraint, in which manipulation led to the dismantling of the psychological structures at the foundations of human culture. Netanyahu should look at his image as it is reflected in the ugly behavior of the society entrusted to him. If he has any decency left, the animalistic chaos that he has created — God knows where it will lead us — obligates him to resign immediately. The situation is truly desperate, and Israel deserves a leader who believes he has the power to put into motion historic processes and not only to freeze them.

To hope that Netanyahu could heal our society of its psychosis, if only he imposes his fatherly authority, is to be blind to, or in denial of, historical truth. We must repeat this at every opportunity: It was the whipping-up of base instincts and releasing of the reins on the part of the camp he led that brought Netanyahu to power. Not for nothing does he seek to extend a historical bridge between the recent past and the distant past, to the eras of the Holocaust and of the Bible, all in order to conceal the terrible crime, the patricide, on which his leadership was built.

The healthy development of Israel’s youth is constantly interrupted as a result of the defective collective-father image, a leader who is derelict in his duties and who abuses his authority. He is doing it once again — inciting — and when young Israelis internalize the message and take action, he appears, with his rational voice; he washes his hands of them, and expects us to behave as we usually do: to appoint him to kill the monster he himself created. But this is a fantasy, and the time has come for us to finally wake up. Netanyahu cannot end the blood feud between the nations, because his character is anchored in the belief that no such possibility exists. Without the fantasy, he will have to acknowledge his sins. And as always happens in tragedies, one sin begets another, until all is destroyed.

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