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How the Israeli Right succeeds at making itself the victim

From prostituting women to befriending anti-Semites, the Israeli Right has reached a level in which revealing its transgressions only evokes wonderment among its supporters.

By Almog Behar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen with his wife Sara and their son Yair, celebrating the Prime Minister's 64th birthday, October 20, 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen with his wife Sara and their son Yair, celebrating the Prime Minister’s 64th birthday, October 20, 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO

We are in the historical stage of the ideological Right, in which every single detail, which would have previously embarrassed the right wing, now only strengthens it.

The most recent example of this phenomenon is that of Ateret Cohanim, the settler organization that used prostitutes, front organizations, and threats of murder to buy Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem. The story, published by Haaretz’s Nir Hasson, did not lead to condemnations by the Right. The majority of the ideological Right is not looking to justify these deeds through ideology or religion, since they view the organization’s deeds as a mitzvah on the way to taking control of more land. Ateret Cohanim’s cleverness evokes wonderment rather than criticism.

A smokescreen for the regime

Similarly, the relationship between the Israeli Right and anti-Semites, which has included inviting the latter to visit settlements and partner together on projects, evokes the same feeling among the Israeli Right that revelations about Trump evoke among his supporters: hatred for the media and the Left, along with a deep belief that support for European and American anti-Semites is worth it, so long as it is coupled with support for Israel, Zionism, and Islamophobia. As Yair Netanyahu, son of the prime minister, recently wrote on his personal Facebook page, the real danger is the Left, including groups such as Black Lives Matter and the BDS movement, rather than the extreme right that believes in white supremacy or neo-Nazism.

Moreover, revelations of corruption among figures such as Netanyahu and Liberman, much like the Russia investigation, evoke even more hatred toward the media and the Left, along with a feeling of persecution and victimization. This despite them being in control of the country. Beyond that, the Right believes their leaders’ corruption is a good thing, since such corruption can be used to promote its ideological goals. After all, a good leader must know how to lie and apologize; honesty and decency are for weaklings, and harms the nation.

Israelis block a road during a protest against the corruption of the government in Tel Aviv on December 9, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israelis block a road during a protest against government corruption, Tel Aviv on December 9, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Meanwhile, the recent revelations about the Netanyahu family do not convince anyone who wasn’t already convinced about their corruption. The repeated reports on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged treatment of her workers at the Prime Minister’s Residence led to a sense that the prime minister’s wife was the victim of persecution by the media and the Left. The absurd assumption that the prime minister did not know about the goings on in his own residence created a feeling that instead of criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife was being held responsible for his misdeeds.

Reports on Yair Netanyahu, who allegedly does not pick up his dog’s feces, publishes anti-Semitic caricatures on Facebook, does not work, visits strip clubs, proposes to pimp out his girlfriend, and who was recently caught drunkenly bragging about the $20 billion dollar deals the prime minister arranged for his friends’ father, only cause the Right to feel sorry for him. The hatred for the media and the Left, of course, only grow.

It is possible that it all helps the Right to strengthen its rule. In the age when the Right has turned scandals into its main strategy, the very mention of Yair Netanyahu’s name becomes a smokescreen for the regime.

Almog Behar is an author and poet. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Ben

      “the age when the Right has turned scandals into its main strategy”

      This is quite true. Witness the shameless, scandal-a-day Donald Trump, jabbering, in impossibly vulgar, racist, un-American, ignorant language for a president of the United States, about “why should we take people from these shithole countries instead of Norway?…take them out.”

      The Fox News shouters, and even supposedly more serious people like National Review’s Richard Lowry, immediately changed the subject from Trump refusing to accept people from these countries to a pseudo-debate on why the Left can’t admit it would rather live in Norway than Haiti. “Why can’t you admit it, huh? Huh? Huh?” becomes the shouted distraction. And the Fox News-ingesting Trump-supporters eat it up. An idiotic, mindless, historically ignorant dialogue.

      Same thing with the Russians, the porn star paid hush money, the ‘pussy-grabbing,’ you name it. Shameless, extremely low class scandal, even outright treason by a US president, all of it, no matter how degraded and degrading and alarming, it’s all turned by the Right to its advantage. No matter that Trump, as no president before him ever did or ever could or would, is blatantly ignoring a grave national security threat in an actually treasonous manner–no matter, it all becomes grist for the mill. The “it’s the fault of the evil left wing media” right wing media mill. And the “Trump tells it like it really is” right wing media mill. And shamelessly craven, cynical, cowardly, prostrate Republican Senators winking and nodding along or having inexplicable lapses of memory. “I was there but I don’t remember if President Trump used those words.”

      In both Trump Land and Netanyahu Land there is a severe degradation of culture taking place before our eyes. Late-Weimar-Republic-like decadence. With coarse right wing proto-fascists, pretending to be something better, filling the vacuum in a chaotic and impotent political world. This did not turn out well in the past.

      Reply to Comment
      • Nathanael

        I’ll tell you the critical difference: in the US, Trump is *extremely unpopular* and getting *less popular*. He lost the popular vote and his popularity has dropped from there. The entire Republican Party is becoming extremely unpopular. They’re losing special elections even in their strongholds. Entire states are rejecting the actions of his administration. A blowout loss is already being predicted at the next election. I think the US *people* are showing that they’re going to do the right thing.

        Meanwhile, in fascist Israel, Netenyahu is cruising to re-election with increased popularity. Because too many of the Israeli voters are actually fascists. And half the population, who would vote against the fascists, aren’t even allowed to vote. And the non-fascist parties are being banned, one by one.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Bret Stephens, of all people, understands what is really happening, in the United States at least:

      Proud to Live in a Nation of Holers
      Bret Stephens JAN. 12, 2018

      Stephens, a seemingly principled conservative on American matters of this kind, is, however, much less principled on Israeli matters of the same kind. What will it take for Stephens to devote one ounce of the ton of outrage he has for Trump’s blatant racism to the blatant racism of Israel’s brutal treatment of African asylum seekers? It won’t happen, it seems, because Stephens has a peculiar, selective blindness when it comes to Israeli matters. Stephens here is behaving as the conservative’s version of the classic progressive except for Palestine, and in an especially hypocritical way.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Nathanael

      The Prophet Jeremiah would have something to say about the current “state of Israel”.

      We wish that the modern “state of Israel” may reform, become democratic, stop stealing private property, give civil rights to all, end government racism — before it meets the fate of ancient Israel and Judah.

      Reply to Comment