Opinion |

Netanyahu May Be Wreaking Havoc, but the Worst Is Yet to Come

In the next elections, we'll have to put our ideas of open-mindedness and pluralism on hold and fight to stop the planned assassination of democracy

Emilie Moatti
Emilie Moatti
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Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Economic Club of Washington. U.S., March 7, 2018.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Economic Club of Washington. U.S., March 7, 2018.Credit: REUTERS/Staff
Emilie Moatti
Emilie Moatti

If you think the hatred and incitement generated by the poisoned arrows Benjamin Netanyahu has fired at the people that dwelleth in Zion are the worst he can do, wait until the next elections. If you think the smugness and contempt of Netanyahu’s address to the opposition, and through it to the public that elected it, are the most ignominious, most wicked level he could descend to, start preparing for the next round. Everything that has been familiar until now will look like Disneyland compared to the horror show we’ll be living through when he runs for his fifth term as prime minister.

The thuggery of the victorious rightist leadership will seem like responsible behavior in contrast to the nightmarish circus up the road. We see its buds already, in the mafia-style attacks on state witnesses and the delegitimization of the law enforcement system, the left and the media. Nothing is out of bounds. As far as they’re concerned, there will be no euthanasia for democracy, but a firing squad with unlimited ammunition.

In the next elections the right wing won’t talk about ideology, but will persist in intimidation and incitement. So anyone planning on running in any leftist party (soon Yair Lapid will understand that he’s also in that category) had better get a thick skin and a flak jacket. Because what they did to Yossi Yona in the 2015 race, grossly slandering him as a Hamas-lover, will suddenly seem like warm hospitality by comparison.

The reasons are infuriatingly simple. Beginning with an Amit Segal tweet, “The crisis is based on the fact that the right attained power without a policy, save for endless self-victimization and anathematizing the left.” Segal is right: will we ever see a right-wing elected official talking on television about a diplomatic, economic or security plan? Presumably not, and I’m not referring to analysts and columnists, but to elected officials like Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev. Apart from delegitimizing the left’s political views, there’s nothing there. So the only way to win public opinion is with hatred, which these days is much more effective than love or hope.

“Since when does brotherhood / Draw crowds?” asked Wislawa Szymborska in her poem “Hatred.” “Has compassion / ever finished first? / Does doubt ever really rouse the rabble? / Only hatred’s got just what it takes.” (Translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanslaw Baranczak in “View with a Grain of Sand,” 1995.)

Since they have no way of dealing with what Israel will be like with another 2.5 million Palestinians coming in with the annexation of the West Bank, they choose intimidation, which always works. They know that ultimately it’s about five Knesset seats, at most, that stands between their current smugness and their joining the Joint List in the opposition.

According to both the last election’s results and the latest polls, the whole thing is about those three-five Knesset seats that could from Likud to Labor or Yesh Atid. That’s the story of the next elections, in which we’ll not only need to defend ourselves from the most corrupt prime minister in Israel’s history, but to take our gloves off and fight back, even if it’s against the left’s views regarding open-mindedness and pluralism.

If there was some content in the right wing, it would be worth listening to. But there isn’t. There’s only instigation and hatred, and it’s the duty of everyone opposed to it to join forces and defend the nation against it.

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