The very same day last week that Israel’s ruling coalition abruptly came to an end, meaning that Israel is heading towards new elections and that Benjamin Netanyahu will be running for an unprecedented fourth term as the Prime Minister of Israel, all hell broke loose. For the Left it signaled “open season” on Netanyahu.
It’s as if someone sounded the opening shot and the dams burst filling the airways, the newspapers, the websites, the news shows on all the T.V. stations with vile irrational hatred of Bibi Netanyahu. No matter what station and at every hour all you hear is a systematic process of demonization, unabashedly fanning the flames of hatred for Benjamin Netanyahu.
What has Israel’s Prime Minister done that can explain this lynch atmosphere? What is it that has ushered in this wild, impassionate “kill the beast” atmosphere? How can one explain or even comprehend that upstanding politicians and caring citizens who normally exhibit sensitivity and civility in the public discourse have become so brazen in stating lies, baseless accusations, and general nastiness as they bare their teeth in a frenzy of violent self-righteousness; and why, because they hate Bibi Netanyahu.
However, there are deeper motives for the hatred of Benjamin Netanyahu. Since the heydays of the Oslo Agreement back in 1993, Israel’s liberal left elite have been infected by a messianic mission to make peace with our Arab neighbors at any price. Israel’s peace movement supported by the intellectual elite, the media, the courts, began to believe that they can hasten the end of the insoluble conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbors by simply forfeiting sovereignty on lands that are essential to Israel’s security, and by forfeiting Israel’s identity as a Jewish state. But even then, back in the autumn of 1993, Netanyahu was the naysayer. The heretic. He combed the countryside much like Johnny Appleseed, from village to village and from town to town, repeating without fear and going against the grain that we were intoxicated with the peace fantasy. Netanyahu explained for those willing to listen, that the conflict with our Arab neighbors is more complex than what the peace train movement claimed. There were issues of Jewish identity, Jewish history and culture, fundamental existential considerations and challenges. Netanyahu claimed that our Arab neighbors had yet accepted the legitimacy of Israel’s right to exist and would continue to weaken Israel, if not by terror, than by delegitimization.
And then the terror struck, daily suicide bombers, the streets of Israel’s major cities became nightmares, thousands killed and wounded. When the peace movement was voted out of power having yet to return for the past twenty years, they can only blame the messenger of truth; the naysayer was to blame and his name is Netanyahu. The hatred of Benjamin Netanyahu responded to their need for an emotional discharge, a kind of false catharsis, enabling the Israeli Left to conveniently forget that the peace fantasies that began in the Oslo Agreement are no more than an illusion, effectively rejected by the Israeli public.
So in the upcoming election, no one will talk about peace. This worn-out bill of goods can't be sold again. So the alternative will be to rant about justice, inequality, social gaps and the cost of housing. But here, too, the Left have a problem. Over the past six years, Netanyahu’s economic reforms have transformed Israel’s socialist economy into a rapidly growing free market making Israel a global powerhouse in the fields of hi-tech and computer technology, medicine, food and agricultural technology; the list goes on and on. The standard of living in Israel has risen dramatically during Netanyahu’s watch, and Israel ranks high across the board in comparison to other Western nations.
Netanyahu has explained Israel’s economic success in his own words - "We're just, you know a small niche economy. But what we've done and what we've instituted is essentially turning Israel into a high-tech free market economy. And that is a fundamental change from where we were decades ago." "We were growing oranges and selling polished diamonds," he elaborates, "and now we're selling the software on chips and we're producing all sorts of innovations, technological innovations. And we've essentially become an export-driven, high-tech economy that has a very open marketplace. Not open enough. That's actually our strategic opportunity for growth. And that's the secret of what you do in an advanced economy and you want to keep it growing after it has reached $30,000 per capita income. That is our situation."
Despite Netanyahu’s success in promoting Israel’s security and her economic success, we can expect that in the coming months until election day, the people of Israel will in inundated with a non-stop defilement of Benjamin Netanyahu. To some extent, some of the voting public will be affected by this propaganda and character assassination but the majority of the Israeli public understands that most of Netanyahu’s policy decisions have been vindicated over the past few years.
After 66 years, the Israeli public supports the idea that Israel as a modern Jewish state must be just that, a Jewish State. The Israeli public has and will in the coming elections continue to confirm this change, that Judaism is the reason for Israel's existence, and the justification of Israel's existence. I know, those of you brought up believing that the secular-liberal “feel-good” Judaism so common among the Left in Israel as well as in the United States are unable to fathom the severity of the existential threats facing Israel and instead sense existential meaning by abdicating Israel’s Jewish identity are having a tough time with Netanyahu’s possible re-election.
The good news is that a Jewish Israel will continue to be democratic, protecting the human rights of minorities and continue to be a true melting pot for all of the world's Jews. Palestinian Arabs living in Judea and Samaria will continue to benefit from the legal and human rights Israel provides them, more so than they have in any Arab nation in the Middle East. Israel will also act and behave morally and unashamedly as a Jewish state. The hatred of Benjamin Netanyahu won’t halt these trends.