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Chikli’s Gone, but Netanyahu Still Has Nasrallah

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a press conference in Tel Aviv, Monday.
Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a press conference in Tel Aviv, Monday.Credit: Itay Ron
Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

Barack Obama was right. So was Ehud Olmert. And Yitzhak Shamir. The man who started his fifth election campaign in three years with a speech from a reinforced glass coach has brought out the secret weapon in the final stretch. If he can’t reserve a slot on the party list for Amichai Chikli, let’s give Hassan Nasrallah a place of honor.

The Hezbollah secretary general has been starring in videos distributed by Benjamin Netanyahu in the past two weeks. Our boy Hassan was granted invaluable air time in the opposition leader’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. The latter simply transmitted Nasrallah’s threatening speech about the maritime border deal from the Beirut bunker. It’s difficult to explain how insane this is. Netanyahu would give anything to be Churchill. Except for cigars and Champagne, those two have nothing in common. But just for the sake of example – this move is like Churchill deciding to base his election campaign against Labour on a speech of Hitler’s, to gather a few more votes.

LISTEN: Why religious voters could tip the scales in Israel's election

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The loss of checks, boundaries and connection to reality is also demonstrated in Netanyahu’s repeated pattern of making promises and commitments regarding the next government. He’s the prime minister of Bibistan. Anyone who doesn’t want former Yamina MK Chikli in the Knesset will get him as a cabinet minister; the agreement with Lebanon doesn’t bind us; we’ll give ultra-Orthodox Jews an exemption from studying the core curriculum.

If there were a psychiatrist around, he would have had to grasp the patient’s shoulder gently and say to him: Old chap, you’re not the prime minister. You’ve failed again and again to get a majority in the existing conditions. There hasn’t been a single serious public opinion poll in which the Bibi-ist-Haredi-religious-Zionist bloc gets 61 Knesset seats. You’d better set your sights a bit lower because the crash could be painful for you and your followers. And we all know what sometimes happens to cults when reality closes in on them.

Since the beginning of the criminal investigations into his conduct, Netanyahu and his eunuchs have in any case been denying reality, as it is represented by the authorities and state institutions. The operating mode is that of burning the house down.

This began with an assault on the State Prosecutor’s Office and the police and continued with the horror speech in the district court at the start of the trial and immediately after the first cabinet meeting with Gantz the collaborator. Then came the screaming show at the swearing-in of the “government of change,” boycotting the work of the Knesset and the parliamentary committees, the defendant’s avoiding the customary security briefings, an insane incitement and delegitimization campaign against Naftali Bennett, which only by a miracle ended without an assassination attempt, and of course the “Muslim Brotherhood government” campaign.

So we’d do well to remember: If the election results aren’t to their liking again, they’ll refuse to accept them. Likud may not have enough people like party activists Rami-Ben-Yehuda and Orly Lev to storm the Knesset, but an earlier version of the assault on the Capitol has already taken place. It was on the morning then-Speaker Yuli Edelstein violated the High Court of Justice’s verdict and refused to convene the parliament for its opening session, at which the rival camp was due to swear in a new Knesset speaker.

There is no point discussing anything with Netanyahu and his direct collaborators. They’re running amok. But in light of the clear danger he poses to Israel’s strategic and democratic interests, it’s time to judge severely and demand explanations from powerful officials who are legitimizing the terms for his return. For example, the defendant in the bribery case with Arnon Mozes, whose newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth offered its readers on the cover of the prestigious Yom Kippur edition a chapter from the new memoir of the second defendant in the case, accompanied by a flattering photograph of the pensive author.

Then there’s the honorable President Isaac Herzog: We haven’t even settled down after the promise attributed to him to act toward “a broad, stable unity government” after the election, and already he’s launched a festive, compassionate pardon initiative for the state’s 75th anniversary.

Here’s a reminder to all those who are too spoiled, too tired, tormented, confused, dazed and in self-denial: not taking part in the election is a vote for Netanyahu. His presenter, Nasrallah, will warmly thank you.

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