Netanyahu Traps Israel in a World of False Images

The prime minister is actually saying this: The right didn't incite to Rabin’s murder, although he was murdered, and you in the left are inciting to my murder, even though you won't murder me.

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
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Then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on the balcony of a hotel overlooking Zion Square during a right-wing demonstration in 1995.
Then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on the balcony of a hotel overlooking Zion Square during a right-wing demonstration in 1995.Credit: David Mizrahi
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

Twenty years Benjamin Netanyahu waited for the moment his opponents dress him up in Nazi uniform. Twenty years he waited for an opportunity to even the score with the left for the incitement he himself spearheaded against Yitzhak Rabin.

The image of the prime minister in Nazi uniform became the symbol of the incitement that preceded the murder. Netanyahu is familiar with the Israeli logos, which is hypnotized by an image or private incident and blind to the general picture. An image for an image, Netanyahu knows, is all it takes to retroactively wash off the blame that has stuck to him. Not that he’s ever admitted it.

Netanyahu is actually saying this: We in the right didn’t incite to Rabin’s murder, although he was murdered, and you in the left are inciting to my murder, even though you won’t murder me. Netanyahu is trapping the Israelis in a world of images, and is changing, as is his custom, the real for the hypothetical. Netanyahu’s hypothetical murder is more horrifying than Rabin’s real murder.

Hagai Amir’s arrest is a good example. On the face of it, the move proves that “we’ve learned something in the last 20 years.” See, the moment the Amirs appear to be preparing to move from words to deeds, the state reacts immediately — this time with no hesitation. In fact, this is nothing but camouflage. Had the state really been interested in fighting the rampant verbal violence and “rightist incitement,” Facebook has several hundreds of thousands of users who should have been dealt with before Hagai Amir. Not to mention gangs of thugs roaming the streets and hunting Arabs. In fact, the state is preparing to prevent Rabin’s murder by Amir. Netanyahu’s Israel is putting on an act in a bid to create an illusion that it wants to prevent what has happened.

Society has been hypnotized all over again by the image shoved in its face. Again the Amir brothers are calling for violence, we must defend Israeli democracy. As if the Amir family has a personal beef with Rabin, which is burning within it even 20 years after the murder. The consensus has been forced on everyone — we must denounce Amir’s words, agree to his arrest. Like in the memorial ceremonies for Rabin’s murder — participation is mandatory. She “cannot wait for the next Rabin festival,” the Justice Ministry spokeswoman said and was unanimously denounced. The cadet who justified Rabin’s murder was kicked out of the course. As though the lesson from Rabin’s murder is objecting to political murder, rather than internalizing that there’s a camp that uses democracy only when it serves its purposes. When it suits its purposes, it acts in a democratic framework. When it doesn’t, it ignores it.

Netanyahu is an expert when it comes to the left’s personality weaknesses and he locks the left in the commitment to coherence between terms and theoretical loyalty to values. Since Rabin’s murder, democracy has turned in the right’s hands to a watchdog keeping the left in the opposition. He is leading them like democratic cattle from one semantic trap to the next — to condemn the violence on both sides, to demolish terrorists’ homes on both sides, to approve imprisonment without trial on both sides, to object to incitement to violence on both sides.

His insistence on being the guest of honor at Rabin’s memorial project is for good reason. Heaven forbid this festival should stop, in which the entire state, with nostalgic schmaltz, bluffs about what happened here 20 years ago and since then. For the sole purpose of this entire festival is to suppress the potency of the political drives required to save the state from those who inherited it with three gunshots.

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