Despite taking pride in bombing Gaza to the Stone Age, Benny Gantz is still portrayed by the Israeli media as a dove who wants to end the conflict. Nothing could be further from the truth.
By Tom Mehager
The partnership between the ruling Likud party and the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party is a prime example of how racism has been legitimized in Israeli public discourse in recent years. If in the past Likud had openly condemned Meir Kahane and his descendants, today those red lines no longer exist.
Even Shas leader Aryeh Deri showed signs of partnering with Otzma’s Itamar Ben-Gvir, something that in the past would have been beyond the pale for his party. All of a sudden, Netanyahu’s now-famous election day warnings of “Arabs going to the polls in droves” have become a terrifying reality. The prime minister has effectively paved the way for unabashed expressions of racism at the highest levels of Israeli society.
Yet the most horrific moment in the current election cycle has undoubtedly been the launch of former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s election campaign, in which he bragged about “sending parts of Gaza back to the Stone Age.” In this sense, Gantz and the popular mood he represents, are far more dangerous than the blatant racism of the Kahanists.
They are dangerous precisely because they can be translated far more easily into actual policies that could physically harm the right of people to life, shelter, and access to water, electricity, and infrastructure. If this is how we measure danger, then Benny Gantz is one of the most dangerous people in Israel — far more dangerous than Kahanists such as Ben-Gvir.
It is important to point out the differences between the violence of a political leader such as Gantz and that of Israel’s extreme right parties. While there is widespread condemnation of the far right from all sides of the political spectrum, as well as international community, Gantz represents the Israeli mainstream — proper, moderate, moral, and he has won the support of Israel’s mainstream media outlets, with left-wing parties such as Meretz expressing their support for his candidacy.
Gantz’s comments are reflective of a violence that is legitimate and acceptable in Israel — the kind of violence whose victims we do not talk or care about. If Gantz truly takes pride in carrying out such a criminal policy in the past — and it is clear not only that Israeli society lacks any mechanism or alternative voice to prevent it in the future (since it pays dividends to wide swaths...Read More