Within minutes of the swearing-in of Israel’s 37th government, the self-proclaimed “forces of light” who were defeated by it began a campaign to prove that the voters were already suffering from buyer’s remorse—and that the public was in for an Armageddon of Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s making.
As part of the effort, Channel 13 on Sunday broadcast a survey, conducted on its behalf by leading pollster Camil Fuchs, showing that if Knesset elections were held today, Bibi’s bloc would garner eight seats fewer than the 64 it gained at the ballot box on Nov. 1 . Leaving aside the consistent inaccuracy of Fuchs’s forecasts in the lead-up to that date, the local media’s inability to accept that the “most right-wing coalition in the country’s history” was neither a fluke nor a mark of Cain has been almost comical.
In the first place, the very commissioning of an electoral poll at such an early stage—some five minutes into the changing of the guard—was as ridiculous as it was transparent. Secondly, the only company that proved worth its salt was Direct Polls. Nevertheless, its research is still viewed as biased for two reasons.
One is that its CEO, Shlomo Filber, the former Communications Ministry director-general who turned state witness against Netanyahu in Case 4000 (the Bezeq-Walla affair), wound up giving evidence in support of the defense. The other is that it was hired by the politically conservative Channel 14 to present what would turn out to be the best predictor of the results of the actual election.
Then there’s doom-and-gloom purveyor Yair Lapid, the opposition leader whose thankfully short premiership was nipped in the bud by his nemesis, Netanyahu. In a speech to parliamentarians in the plenum on Monday, he outdid himself in leftist hyperbole.
“In the 75 years of the State of Israel’s existence, there was never doubt about the question of whether it would be democratic. Now there is; more than doubt,” he bellowed, after presenting a picture of the abyss of nationalism and religious coercion into which the nation is supposedly sinking. “In the 21st century, democracies don’t fall; they are eroded, bit by bit, and then quickly and by a lot. We’re in the quickly-and-by-a-lot phase. The only thing that will stop this is resistance.”
Perhaps advised that his repeated incitement to civil insurrection may not be playing so well, he hurriedly added, “I’m not calling, of course, to break the law. But this doesn’t mean we have to obey, like automatons, a government that’s dismantling the foundations of our shared lives.”
While Lapid’s mantra is the inevitable death of Israel’s democracy at the hands of “fanatics,” now-former Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman—replaced in the role by (gasp!) Religious Zionism Party chairman Bezalel Smotrich—envisions their bringing about the demise of its raison d’être.
“I do believe that the establishment of Netanyahu’s sixth government isn’t the end of the State of Israel, at least in the meantime,” he told a gathering of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party that he heads. “But it’s definitely the end of Zionism. It’s the end of the Zionist movement and Zionism.”
Let’s not forget Benny Gantz, the so-called “centrist” National Unity Party leader who just lost the defense portfolio to Likud MK Yoav Galant. In a morose address to members of his faction, he said, “We won’t be a state in the spirit of the [Israeli] Declaration of Independence. We won’t be a state that was founded on the principle of ‘Justice, justice, you shall pursue’ [Deuteronomy 16:20]. A place in which the just are pursued, rather than where justice is pursued, is where democracy—and Judaism, as I understand it—ends. My colleagues and I intend to take part in every oppositionist parliamentary initiative to topple this bad government.”
So, there we have it. The powers-that-be in Jerusalem, instated on Thursday, rose by accident or miscalculation, and are the harbingers of the extinction of democracy, Zionism and Judaism.
Gantz cited the Torah, but a more apt analogy for the naysayers’ warnings can be found in the New Testament. Chapter 6 of Book of Revelation describes the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” a metaphor for the conquest, war, famine and death that signify the onset of the “end of times.”
What Israel’s sore losers don’t seem to grasp is that if they continue acting as though they’re wishing for their pernicious, false prophecies to come to fruition, they’ll do even worse in the next—yes, democratic—election. Hopefully they won’t be put to the test for another four years.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”