“It would be so nice if something would make sense for a change.” — Alice in Wonderland
Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum. (“There is no evil faster than rumor.”) — Virgil, from the Aeneid
“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late.” — Jonathan Swift
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth puts on its boots.” — attributed to Winston Churchill, among others
One of the most depressing and galling aspects of politics in Israel is that nearly all the accusations hurled at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters are not only untrue but far truer of the accusers.
What value the truth?
Thus, for example, there is an urban legend, so widely spread that it has acquired an aura of truth, that Netanyahu reneged on his 2020 pledge to hand over the premiership to “alternate prime minister” Benny Gantz.
While it is an open question as to whether Netanyahu would have honored his pledge, Gantz and his Blue and White Party made it a moot point. In Dec. 2020, well before Gantz was supposed to become prime minister, Gantz and his party joined forces with the opposition and supported a proposal to disband the Knesset, thus doing precisely what they accused Netanyahu of planning to do.
Indeed, as Netanyahu stated: “I did not want elections and we voted repeatedly against them. … We are against elections, [but] that is the decision of Blue and White. They are forcing elections on us.”
But what value does truth have in the toxic, no-holds-barred assault on the Israeli right and the man who leads it?
Lapid: The most obnoxious of all?
Another falsehood is the claim that Netanyahu and his supporters regularly denigrate political rivals in abusive language in order to demonize and delegitimize them.
In reality, it is Netanyahu’s adversaries who frequently use foul and caustic language against him. Indeed, it is difficult to think of any elected politician who has been as vilified as him.
Arguably, the most obnoxious of all has been Yair Lapid, who on a prime-time discussion panel days prior to the 2020 election explicitly referred to his political opponents as “s**ts” and “repulsive.”
Then, when Naftali Bennett resigned as prime minister, Lapid seized the occasion to designate his opponents as “the forces of darkness.” He did so in a speech allegedly intended to promote “unity” and “love.”
Reminiscent of Nazi terminology
Not to be outdone by Lapid was former IDF Gen. Yair Golan, who once implied that processes reminiscent of those that led to the rise of the Nazi regime afflict Israeli society. In language reminiscent of Nazi terminology, Golan referred to Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria as “sub-humans” and “a corrupted [i.e. deformed] version of the Jewish people.”
Then there was the brutish Avigdor Lieberman, who with his customary delicacy and decorum called for loading Netanyahu and the haredim on to a wheelbarrow and hauling them off to the nearest garbage dump.
From the Knesset plenum, Lieberman’s party colleague Yulia Malinovsky waxed offensive and downright racist, saying to Netanyahu’s supporters, “On the second floor here, there sits a dictator and you are his servants. Why did you bother to come here from Morocco? To exchange one king for another?”
Brandishing phallic symbols
Last May, vehement anti-Netanyahu radio host Natan Zahavi expressed the wish that the Right-leaning Channel 14 would burn down together with everybody associated with it.
Just a few months later, despite being temporarily suspended for his comments, Zahavi was at it again. He labeled haredi Jews dreckes (“filth” and the Yiddish equivalent of “s**ts”), recommending they hang themselves by their tefillin.
The courteous chivalry of the anti-Netanyahu mob was most recently on display in Tel Aviv, where they laid siege to Netanyahu’s wife Sara, who had the temerity to get her hair done. This act of brazen hooliganism was accompanied by vulgar verbal abuse.
This was not the first time Sara Netanyahu was the target of vicious invective. During his previous term, Netanyahu’s official residence was besieged by protesters whose support for law and order and enlightened values expressed itself in threats of sexual violence against his wife, underscored by the brandishing of giant inflatable phallic symbols.
Why is the left apoplectic?
What is the cause of the left’s almost bestial rancor? The mob claims they are protecting democracy, but this has a distinctly hollow ring. After all, they are a minority that just lost an election and are attempting to impose their views on the majority that won that election. This is not only inconsistent with democracy but its diametric opposite.
Moreover, their professed concern for the fate of the nation cannot be reconciled with their threats to undermine Israel’s economy and security by divesting from Israel or refusing military service. After all, making Israel more vulnerable only endangers what they allegedly cherish.
Significantly, the left expressed no concern about democracy when the Rabin government, under the Oslo Accords, allowed armed militias connected to terror organizations to deploy within mortar range of the nation’s parliament and government ministries. This ultimately resulted in thousands of Israelis being murdered or maimed.
Nor did the left object in 2005 when, contrary to election pledges, the Sharon government abandoned the Gaza Strip, laid waste to flourishing settlements, expelled thousands of industrious taxpaying citizens and disinterred Jewish graves of infants and the elderly alike. This allowed Hamas to transform Gaza from a security nuisance to a security nightmare.
“Therein lies the rub … ”
How, then, are we to account for the left’s incandescent opposition to measures that even those who now oppose them once embraced? After all, the alleged “excess power” that the judicial reforms allegedly give the executive would benefit the opposition if it were to win a future election. They would then be able to correct any “abuses” made by their predecessors. The reforms are, after all, “sector neutral.” They are not designed to favor or disadvantage any partisan group, left or right.
Accordingly, to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Hamlet, therein lies the rub…
Because there is little to no chance that the current opposition will ever regain power. Certainly, they cannot do so without coopting the Arab-led anti-Zionist parties. Until the judicial reforms were proposed, however, the left did not need to win elections. The left-leaning judiciary had the power to implement its ideology. But if this tyrannical overreach is curtailed, the last vestige of the left’s power will be eroded—a prospect the left views with a mixture of horror and disbelief.
That is the real source of their white-hot fury against the reform initiative.
Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project.