Opinion

Warning signs out of the ‘Anyone but Bibi’ camp

We have never before seen Israel’s political parties make hatred for one politician the focus of their campaigns. In the dangerous game these politicians are playing with Israel’s future, the ends justify the means.

Israelis protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, near the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on March 13, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Israelis protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, near the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on March 13, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen

The complexity of the Israeli political system in general, and the lack of a clear outcome in the three most recent rounds of voting in particular, have led to the establishment of a particular kind of campaign ahead of the country’s March 23 election.

The traditional disputes between the political right and left have been brushed aside, the controversial issue that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been “disappeared,” and even the vocal arguments over the government’s failures in contending with the coronavirus pandemic are being sidelined. It would be fair to say that this election can be summed up as a referendum on public trust in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This common denominator, which crosses party lines, raises the banner of the “lofty” objective of removing Netanyahu from office, so much so that we may see politicians from parties across the political spectrum come together to form a coalition that leaves Netanyahu’s Likud in the opposition.

“Bringing down Netanyahu is preferable to the premiership,” said Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid, the man spearheading opponents of the prime minister.

We have never before seen abysmal hatred for one politician become a party’s refined election campaign. The fact that the “Anyone but Bibi” camp’s electorate is at peace with this line is an insult to their intelligence. As a famous quote attributed to physicist Albert Einstein goes: “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”

In this dangerous game that is being played with Israel’s future, the ends justify the means.

A cold analysis of the current circumstances and forces at play on the eve of the election, and the internalization of the implicit message being sent by boycotting Netanyahu, on one hand, and the determination to protest against him on the other, are signs we may see an extreme and unprecedented refusal to accept the results of the election should it see the formation of a Netanyahu-led coalition.

Not coincidentally, the names of the anti-Netanyahu protest movements, among them “black flag,” and “crime minister,” make clear their supporters won’t accept the outcome unless it suits their doctrine. Allow me to borrow from the world of intelligence assessment and say this is no imaginary scenario but a rather reasonable one, and as such should serve as a genuine warning sign.

IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek, a BESA Center Research Associate, is an expert in the field of nuclear physics and technology who served as a senior analyst in the Israeli intelligence community.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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