Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000 have dwarfed that most serious offence which outraged so many Israelis long before Prime Minister Netanyahu was indicted for fraud, bribery and breach of trust: Bibi’s unresponsiveness to the incitement which led to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
No charges were brought against him. After all, Bibi never said or implied that Rabin should be assassinated. But he sure pretended that the atmosphere of hate that hovered like smog over Israel in those ominous times didn’t exist. His failure to condemn the provocation that infested the nation, which included public cries of “Rabin is a traitor,” posters of him in Arab headdress and Pulsa diNura prayers for his death, were met by loud silence from then opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Bibi’s “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” approach suited his divisive politics. As many Israelis on both sides of the political divide condemned the incitement that led to Rabin’s killing, Bibi had no words of reproach for his more zealous supporters who enabled and then applauded Rabin’s assassin. In truth, Bibi let all the hateful extremists hang on to his coattails, which helped him win the 1996 elections by a narrow margin.
For many of Bibi’s opponents, this amoral behavior delegitimized him. But the original sin of silence in the face of incitement didn’t end with Rabin’s murder. It evolved into a loud and clear demonization of mainstream media, the Israeli left, Israeli Arabs and any person or group who is critical of Bibi’s policies, a poisonous cycle of scorn that is endemic on the national scene to this day.
Bibi’s gevalt cry “the Arabs are surging to the polls” on Election Day in 2015, and ugly billboard campaign warning in the last elections which suggested that a Benny Gantz-led government would rely on the likes of Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi, were further manifestations of his “divide and conquer” scheme, which always works for him. Indeed, Bibi does this so well that these days he’s turning the Joint Arab List against itself while courting their favor in a shameless ploy to stay in power and out of court.
Bibi’s cynical game plan to divide every two Israelis into three sets the tone for his most malicious supporters. One can’t turn a blind eye to the hatred that threatens nonviolent protestors at the PM’s Balfour residence in Jerusalem and major intersections in cities all over Israel. As a regular demonstrator in my neighborhood in Netanya, I regularly hear Bibi loyalists spewing venomous curses at us. To those haters we manage to talk to, we always say that there are alternatives to Bibi on the right, to which their usual response is that we’re all a bunch of stinking leftists. Lapid, Sa’ar, Bennet, Lieberman and all those who vote for them – anyone who turns his back on Bibi is now, in the minds of his most fanatical followers, a leftist and a traitor.
Of course, none of this stops Bibi from courting Itamar Ben Gvir and Betzalel Smutrich, who represent the lunatic fringes on the far right. Before election time, all deals with devils are strictly kosher and stink to high heaven.
This sick mindset begs for the obvious comparison with Bibi’s fallen ally Donald Trump, whose pandering to maniacal white supremacist groups including QAnon, Proud Boys, Ku Klux Klan and Nazis led to the near takeover of the US capitol on January 6th. While most decent Americans were appalled by this outburst, it seems that most Republicans will stick to their narrative that Trump didn’t really incite the insurrection. They will say things like “Trump may have told the mob to march to the capitol, but he didn’t say march into the capitol” which glosses over Trump’s inflammatory speech and yet reaffirms the stupidity of his followers who did his bidding.
According to analysts, and against the wishes of most Americans, Trump will survive the impeachment and not pay for the incitement. But he will never escape the shame, just as Bibi will never lose his “national inciter” stigma.
With cases 1000, 2000 and 4000 looming and case 3000 waiting in the wings, our Crime Minister will probably never face an incitement charge. This is why I am relegating this case from the thousands classification to a basic 0001. It’s a long unresolved state of affairs that many Israelis still must come to terms with, especially now, in anticipation of the fourth election in two years. We must decide if the person in charge who keeps our house so bitterly divided at the height of a pandemic and would let it fall to keep himself out of prison is indeed fit to lead the country.
While the swing voters decide who should replace him, we at Balfour, in the caravans, on the roads and bridges and in our neighborhoods, will stand up to the haters and go on chanting Bibi lech, go!