When we speak of the upcoming elections, what are we talking about? We are talking about another non-fateful round of elections, less important than they seem, whose results will not have much impact, if any, on the lives of most Israelis.

When we speak of the upcoming elections, we are talking about the personal future of several dozen candidates, about the personal fate of one, Benjamin Netanyahu, and another round in Israel’s identity politics. There is not much else here. Despite this, once again the dramatic, overblown, and absurd pathos about how fateful these elections are, the results of which – whatever they are – won’t change much.

The fight over “Bibi yay/Bibi nay” has tainted and poisoned Israeli politics to the point of rendering that world unrecognizable. Everything, but truly everything, has been pushed aside. Everything resides in its shadow. Every topic is judged by the sole yardstick remaining in the discourse – for or against Netanyahu. Everything runs through this prism.

The full blame for this must be laid on the “Anyone but Bibi” camp. From the day this camp formed, it ruled that everything must be set aside for the goal of as long as it’s not Bibi. The opposing camp was left with no choice but to rally around its adversaries’ sole line of attack and circle the wagons around him. One election campaign after another, and nothing has changed. They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Time has blunted nothing.

To maintain this hollow and non-fateful struggle, it was necessary to erect strawmen to add a dramatic touch. The voodoo rituals presented Netanyahu as an existential disaster befalling us, the destroyer of democracy, the annihilator of the justice system, enemy of the state, and almost a harbinger of another Holocaust.

They didn’t only muster and inflame the hatred against him to consolidate a camp, they also enabled the definition of this camp as a savior and rescuer, enlightened and messianic and so beautiful. If Netanyahu means the destruction of everything, then those standing against him are the saviors. If Netanyahu is so dangerous, then truly all else must be set aside to focus solely on fighting him.

No one has mustered the courage to ask: Is the danger so great? After all, he was prime minister for 13 years, and all these disasters never materialized. And equally important: Is there a more fitting alternative? This camp has had nothing to form around or fight for save “Anyone but Bibi,” and therefore this strategy was as vital as breathing air itself to it.

Thus it happened that the far-right and moderate right, the center and what’s left of the left can coexist in the same bloc. Avigdor Lieberman and Mossi Raz together, all calling themselves center-left and creating the illusion of an alternative, while it is clear that the absolute majority of Israelis are right-wing, even if only some of them are considered as such.

In a saner situation, free of the fear of Netanyahu, there is not a single centrist who would have voted for Lieberman or Gideon Sa’ar, there would not have been a single leftist to vote for Yair Lapid or Benny Gantz – but they’ll vote for them just to eradicate the evil. When the furor dies down, it will be revealed that the absolute majority of Israelis are quintessential right-wingers, even if they voted “Anyone but Bibi.”

Meanwhile, identity politics rage in full force. Arabs, Haredim, Mizrachim and Ashkenazim define their voting patters by their identities. Tell me who you are, who you were born to and where you grew up, where you live and where you work, and I’ll tell you who you’ll vote for. Errors in prediction are negligible. This discourse, too, has nothing to do with Israel’s present and future, but only the personal expression of each voter.

The campaign has succeeded: Most Israelis believe that the question of whether or not Netanyahu will be elected is almost a life-or-death issue. His supporters believe that there is no future without him, his opponents believe that there is no future with him. Both camps err and deceive. The problem is not Netanyahu, but all the issues stowed away in the national attic due to Netanyahu season, which goes on and on with no end in sight.

QOSHE - What Are These Elections Really About? - Gideon Levy
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What Are These Elections Really About?

28 16 12
19.09.2022

When we speak of the upcoming elections, what are we talking about? We are talking about another non-fateful round of elections, less important than they seem, whose results will not have much impact, if any, on the lives of most Israelis.

When we speak of the upcoming elections, we are talking about the personal future of several dozen candidates, about the personal fate of one, Benjamin Netanyahu, and another round in Israel’s identity politics. There is not much else here. Despite this, once again the dramatic, overblown, and absurd pathos about how fateful these elections are, the results of which – whatever they are – won’t change much.

The fight over “Bibi yay/Bibi nay” has tainted and poisoned Israeli politics to the point of rendering that world unrecognizable. Everything, but truly everything, has been pushed aside. Everything resides in its shadow. Every topic is judged by the sole yardstick remaining in the discourse – for or against Netanyahu. Everything runs through this prism.

The full blame for this must be laid........

© Haaretz


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