One campaign mantra of the camp of Israeli opposition and Likud leader Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu ahead of the Nov. 1 Knesset election is that interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid will not be able to form a coalition without the Arab parties.
Barring a miracle—or an egregious manipulation of the system similar to that which Lapid and Naftali Bennett pulled last year—this numerical given is a truism that the “anybody but Bibi” politicians have been trying to obfuscate.
Though having no choice but to lean on the support of Hadash-Ta’al and Balad in order to keep Netanyahu from returning to the helm, they are aware that the public is none too fond of MKs who openly side with Israel’s sworn enemies. As a result, they prefer to point to the one Arab parliamentarian, Mansour Abbas, who distanced himself from his more treasonous colleagues.
The United Arab List (Ra’am) chairman made a historic move by being the first of his ilk to join an Israeli coalition. In fairness to the head of the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, he did acknowledge that Israel is both a Jewish state and here to stay.
Still, Netanyahu has been highlighting Ra’am’s dubious record to admonish voters not to be lulled into considering it kosher. But there’s another party that warrants at least as much, if not more, negative attention: Meretz—without which Lapid also has no chance of coming even close to a 61-mandate majority.
Like Ra’am, Meretz is polling at four-to-five seats. In other words, each is straddling the electoral threshold.
Meretz, too, moderated its rhetoric when it became part of the now-defunct coalition. This is probably why its members penalized the faction’s top honchos in the Aug. 23 primary, and elected Zehava Gal-On to replace Nitzan Horowitz as party leader.
It was an ironic turnaround.
Horowitz brought the party out of backbench exile and into the glory of government, serving for the past year and a half as health minister. Gal-On, on the other hand, resigned five years ago from her post as chair of the far-left party, reappearing on the scene to resume her coveted spot.
In an interview on Oct. 8 with the Mako Weekend magazine, Gal-On let her radicalism rip. This wasn’t novel. She’s never been one to hide her aversion to Jewish settlement and sympathy for the “plight” of Palestinian terrorists “under Israeli occupation.”
Nor does she hesitate to express her deep loathing for all things Netanyahu. Naturally, then, she was completely candid on this score with interviewer Naveh Dromi—perhaps doubly so, due to the latter’s being on the right.
But she was so filled with vitriol that she forgot her allegiance to intersectionality, a key element of which is feminism. In response to her accusing broadcaster Yinon Magal of misogyny, Dromi asked whether the behavior of the anti-Bibi contingent towards his wife hasn’t been a case of just that.
“I think that the moment Sara Netanyahu made herself out to be a victim, she brought it on herself,” replied Gal-On.
Whoa. That was pretty impressive, coming from someone who believes that all women are victims and should be given the benefit of the sexual-harassment doubt in perpetuity.
Dromi challenged: “Balloons in the shape of genitals at the [“Crime Minister”] demonstrations is something that [Sara] ‘brought on herself?’”
Gal-On didn’t skip a beat. “When she said, ‘I’m a victim of violence,’ she was exaggerating. She’s not the victim here.” Hmmm.
This kind of hypocrisy has become so tiresomely typical that it’s barely worth mentioning, other than for entertainment purposes. Yet, as the public has witnessed—albeit briefly—having Meretz in a position of power in the Jewish state is far from amusing.
It’s time for Likud to spend a little less time targeting Ra’am for derision and invest a bit more in reminding undecideds of this particular peril.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”