Roy Pinchot

Careful what you wish for…

A recent newspaper article decried the price PM elect Netanyahu will have to pay to bring his new right-wing partners into his coalition. The author complains that Netanyahu’s new partners will swing the new Israeli government far to the right and possibly reduce or reverse many of the previous government’s more liberal policies, especially toward Arab violence and religious questions.

The writer asks the question, what happened to Netanyahu’s dream of a broad-based central-right governing party similar to the American Republican party? Netanyahu’s previous governments excluded the radical right parties by building governing coalitions that included center parties such as Moshe Kahlon’s party, Blue and White, and Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi. After Netanyahu’s indictment however, half of Israelis came to view his continued tenure as illegitimate. With no corruption charges, Netanyahu could have pushed off Smotrich and his demands by offering a deal to one of the parties in the opposition. After the election, Netanyahu now had no choice but to change invite radical right parties to join his “Republican Party.” Nachman Shai, Israeli Diaspora Minister, pointed out in a recent interview “that this likely government is different from right-wing coalitions in the past, in that there is no internal balance. Not only is there no centrist party in the coalition, but few moderates remain in the Likud.”

How did we, Israel, got to this impossible point in its political life. It is no use hand-wringing after the fact that recent history has moved Israeli voters to the right, especially the young voters who are seeking a stronger Israeli response to both Palestinian terror attacks/civil unrest, and to Israel’s seeming weakness in the face of international, and especially American, animosity and meddling in Israel’s internal affairs.

If, as pointed out, the country’s problems are caused by Netanyahu’s current inability to bring any centrist parties or politicians into his governing coalition, and if the voters obviously still want Netanyahu as Prime Minister, we have to look deeper for the cause of this problem.

Embarrassingly enough, that cause is largely the Israeli mass media! The media, assisted and enabled by illegal leaks from the police and prosecutor’s office, created a fire-storm of invectives against Netanyahu by publishing, broadcasting, and repeating over and over hundreds and even thousands of stories blackening and destroying Netanyahu’s reputation even before the first day of his trial. It became a regular Salem Witch Trial with unsubstantiated “facts” leaked and thousands of partisans demonstrating and marching against the Prime Minister every evening. For months demonstrators rallied at the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Petach Tikva. These celebrations were given extensive coverage in print and on TV, convincing many that “where there is smoke there is fire,” and that Netanyahu was evil beyond redemption. In our day, never underestimate the power of public opinion and of those who can mold it.

Now, the chickens have come home to roost! The very media that made Benjamin Netanyahu toxic to the centrists and liberals, those very politicians who would have been perfect to assist him in forming his governing “Republican Party,” now cannot touch him because the press and media have made a connection with Netanyahu political death to any moderate politician. How ironic! The liberals and media, who would love to have a moderate-centrist government here in Israel, have soiled their own nest by destroying their only chance of getting what they so earnestly prayed for. Instead, in their zeal for moral political perfection, they misread the political winds blowing to the right, and now continuously write and explain on TV what a disaster will result from the voters’ choice – a choice they largely created!

Just who were Ben-Gvir and Smotrich before the media began their campaign to destroy their election chances by writing and discussing the two of them in hundreds of articles and expert interviews that detailed every aspect of their lives and views. Day after day the media gave millions of shekels of free publicity to these two politicians who were quite unknown to the general public and who had garnered few votes in previous elections. As with the attack on Netanyahu, the very volume of coverage acted as justification for notoriety, familiarity and celebrity. This is 2023 – and in our “Age of Social Media,” fame and celebrity have taken the place of virtue and reasoned opinion. People are now judged not on what they say or stand for but on how many times they are viewed. Ben-Gvir and Smotrich became celebrities just because they were the focus of all Israeli media. Although some were appalled, obviously many thousands of others, who had not known them before, found their views appealing. Many thought, to command this much attention, they must be important. Talk about setting fire to your own house! The Israeli media, known for its liberal bias, did not itself understand how its overblown daily publicizing of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich managed in our “Age of Social Media” to introduce them to a critical electorate and vouch for their authority.

The people who manage our media outlets are still thinking in the old forms of information and persuasion. Today, the majority of people live in a world constantly bombardment with news, fake news, entertainment, opinion, and public self-expression. A world in which truth and reason have collapsed into “there are no facts and every person’s opinion is as valid as every other person’s opinion.”
It is down this rabbit hole that liberal Israel now finds itself. It destroyed the only chance it had to bring to power a sought-after centrist government. By thinking that destroying Benjamin Netanyahu would herald a better government and by misreading the rightward trend of the electorate, the media and liberal Israel has now made it impossible to form a government they can live with.

About the Author
Previously Editor in Chief, USNews & World Report/books, President, US History Society, Inc. author or editor of 42 books and multiple articles published inluding: The Human Body (16 vols), Vietnam Order of Battle, Encyclopedia of American History (23 vols), Famous Americans (12 vols), etc.
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