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Politics in the Netanyahu Era Is a Dangerous Thing, and the PM Is the Ultimate Danger

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem last week.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem last week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

One can say that the most dangerous politician in Israeli politics is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One could also say that Netanyahu is more dangerous than Donald Trump. At least Trump wasn’t stalking congressional Democrats to lure them into his camp. But to agitate, bribe and rule is the life’s blood of Netanyahu’s doctrine.

Netanyahu hasn’t merely adopted a policy of divide and conquer, the essence of colonialism, but has upgraded it, including against his own people. He has succeeded in sparking disputes within and breaking down nearly every party institution that stood in his way. He identifies his rival’s weak point, applies pressure, and the rest is history.

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Ehud Barak, who was his party’s weak link, evaporated after he defected and his party, Labor, was left bleeding. Kadima, which was once a ruling party, no longer exists because of Netanyahu. Even the parties that were “all in the family” got the same devoted treatment; one of them, headed by Naftali Bennett, didn’t cross the electoral threshold in the April 2019 election.

Finally, it was the Arabs’ turn. Netanyahu assessed that the weak link was the United Arab List, and that it could be drawn out of the Joint List. If there’s a need, he will even go as far as Hezbollah, perhaps even Tehran.

The poet Muthaffar al-Nawab wrote about a prisoner who was “thrown into a dark cellar in which the scorpions suspect each other.” That’s the situation now. The political system here is like a dungeon full of scorpions. After Netanyahu sowed the seeds of no-confidence in law enforcement and the media, and after a series of break-ups generated in rival parties – the height of which was the shattering of Kahol Lavan into pieces – confidence in the party system has been fundamentally undermined.

After the wave of defections we’ve seen, who can assure voters that a party which champions “black” won’t suddenly cross to the “white” side? Who can assure voters that an “anti-Bibi” party won’t become “pro-Bibi” at the crucial moment? That’s Netanyahu catastrophic contribution to Israeli politics: everyone is suspicious of everyone.

That’s why the tendency nowadays to declare that Netanyahu and his rivals are all the same is perilous. From afar the mountain might look the same, but when you get closer you see that there’s greenery on one part while the other part is barren. Political action is built on the ability to discern the differences, even the smallest ones, in the political array, and to work at isolating the harmful elements.

Netanyahu is the ultimate harmful element. Aside from his divisive instincts, he is the architect of incitement, both against the Arabs and against his Jewish opponents, and there are endless examples of this. We should recall that the nation-state law was passed by only seven votes, and Netanyahu was at the forefront of the campaign to legislate it. Opposing it was a Jewish-Arab coalition that is divided on many issues but was united against this benighted law. If that’s so, how can you put all the parties in one basket?

Let us end by telling of how “our forces” passed Friday through Umm el-Fahm. The result was dozens of wounded and arrested; among the wounded were Mayor Samir Mahamid and MK Yousef Jabareen. That’s the spirit of the commander, who declares his burning love for Arabs while at the same time sending “our forces” to demonstrate the nature of his love.

And even as he drowns the Arabs in his viral honey, he is rolling out the red carpet to the heirs of Meir Kahane, en route to the corridors of power. When they start to implement their plans to expel the Arabs, one can assume that a few tears will drop from the eyes of the loving-hearted man.

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