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The Lawmaker Who Quit Israel's Coalition Is Another Closet Netanyahu Supporter

Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht
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A Netanyahu supporter wearing a shirt that reads "We will be back soon," in Jerusalem, October.
A Netanyahu supporter wearing a shirt that reads "We will be back soon," in Jerusalem, October.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht

I respect people like MK Amichai Chikli, who from the day they entered public life they announced they were supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu, much more than I do MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, for whom a slot was reserved in Meretz, one of the outstanding anti-Netanyahu parties. The latter has now decided that she can’t stand it any longer, and she is making a very respectable contribution to the fall of the only government in recent years that has a strong left wing.

I respect people like Gideon Levy, who write black on white that they prefer a Netanyahu government over a “government of change,” much more than intellectuals who explain how this government is racist and terrible, after explaining for years with the same passion that the Netanyahu government is the epitome of evil, the end of democracy, etc. etc.

I have much more respect for people who are sincere enough to refine themselves into one simple line, instead of wallowing in the thick and pleasant fat of naughty and unbridled radicalism under whose aegis everyone is bad without distinction or level. I have much more respect for people who have no privileged awareness, who look reality straight in the eye and painfully choose the less bad possibility to survive. People who have privileged awareness know neither suffering or want, and therefore they are not pushed into painful compromises.

It seems that MK Ayman Odeh, from the largely Arab Joint List, his party colleague Ahmad Tibi, and Rinawie Zoabi, are not suffering. And perhaps even more: As opposed to what Odeh said once in an interview – that no prime minister in Israel ever incited against Arabs like Netanyahu – their situation in Netanyahu’s days was better than their situation in the face of the alternative, in which an Arab party is a member of the coalition. That as opposed to what we thought, coexistence, in which Prime Minister Naftali Bennett defends MK Mansour Abbas against outright racists in a Knesset speech, is not a desirable value. And that the polarized division of Netanyahu is not bad at all for a few of the people who have made themselves out to be adversaries. Otherwise they would not act as they do.

I once complained to a friend that he does not say enough loving words to the people he loves. That he does not let people know his feelings, and they are doomed to float in space in uncertainty and lack of confidence. “What’s important is what we do, not what we say,” he answered me, and from then on I have tried to apply this.

MK Rinawie Zoabi’s action means choosing Netanyahu, because the reality here is very simple, too simple, to the point where it’s embarrassing to explain it. In this reality there is a choice between two possibilities only: either the current government, or a Netanyahu-Smotrich-Ben-Gvir government.

The first possibility is very right-wing, and there are people in it who are hard to swallow, like Avigdor Lieberman, Gideon Sa’ar and Ayelet Shaked, there is not enough representation of Mizrahim and all kinds of other problems that could be mentioned. But it is vastly more preferable than the second option, which is a combination of a royalist family with no boundaries and a Kahanist theocracy. It is clear that one must criticize the government for its failings. One may protest, one can be insulted, it’s always worthwhile to raise the banner and insist in the name of an idea or a principle. But in the present reality, a politician that votes against this government, imperfect as it is – is in fact voting for Netanyahu. How many times must the obvious be repeated?

Thus, the members of the Joint List and MK Rinawie Zoabi – and all the rest who may be expected to pop up in the future because they’re not happy enough – should be sincere with themselves and with others, take the path of Chikli and former coalition whip MK Idit Silman. Come out of the closet – you are Netanyahu supporters.

Netanyahu supporters are not the majority in Israel, but because of their sharp sense of minority awareness, they maintain unity and loyalty. That’s the way they were able to protect his regime and that’s the way they preserve it for a renewed assault. With the help of their disguised allies, they will yet succeed.

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