Heads up, this time, Noy is writing.
The country of Israel is stuck in a long debate, and for our health, sanity, and political stability, we must find our way out of it. I’m talking about the yes or no Bibi debate, and while all sides involved have good reasons for their positions, the amount of focus and energy this debate is taking is dangerous for our society.
Lately, at a holiday family brunch, I talked with my mom’s aunt, a 90 years old activist who told us how she goes to demonstrate every weekend against Netanyahu. While I’m proud to have a family member who is still politically active even if she needs a walker to do it, I told her I’m frustrated that this is what the demonstrations are about. These are demonstrations against a possible future many people in society want to avoid. Unfortunately, these are not demonstrations in favor of the future they want to see.
In an interview with Haaretz, the former Yemina member, now Likud member, Amichai Shikli, said that the protesters against Netanyahu strengthened his camp. I believe he is correct. When a group of people feels attacked, they tend to stick together, reduce criticism against each other, and focus on achieving the most basic common goals they share, and they like each other more after that. You do not gain supporters by telling them how much you despise their leader, but you might reduce yourself to your hate. Furthermore, when you criticize a specific person repeatedly, you also talk about this person, and – there is no bad publicity.
This ongoing debate might have strengthened Netanyahu’s camp, but I’m not sure if it has strengthened the Likud or the right-wing base. This kind of debate decreases self-criticism. It reduces the ability to check yourself and your values. It increases paranoia and hatred toward other parts of society, and sometimes under it, people choose the way of violence. As we saw lately with the Likud supporter who physically attacked a protester. I believe it reduces the ability to build solid future leadership. In the last primaries, the Likud candidates who chose to make their campaigns about how loyal they were to Netanyahu mainly showed how weak they are on their own. So like the anti-Bibi camp, the Likud and its satellite parties should also grow out of this discussion and focus on the life they want to have here for the whole society in Israel and on what they can do to promote it.
In this episode, we talk with Stephen Rubin, an activist for Israel Beytenu. At one point in the interview, we fell a bit into this discussion. Vanina got us out of there and asked Stephen what he thinks needs to be the next debate in Israeli society; when the Netanyahu debate is over. Stephen said we should move on to talk about our core values, and we should talk about the relations between the state and religion. These are two crucial subjects we should talk about today, not tomorrow. The Netanyahu trial should keep going and conclude in its time. Division and sectorialism grew in our society. We can blame politicians for riding on our fears and hatred to promote themselves. Still, it’s also on us since we let these fears lead us, instead demanding our politicians give us clear, structured hope and tell us how they plan to actualize this hope. To quote A.D Gordon – “There will be no victory of light over darkness until we grasp the simple truth – instead of fighting darkness, we must enhance the light.”