Emanuel Shahaf

Everybody knows

As already Mark Twain noted, denial isn’t only a river in Egypt. We are in denial, big time, and have been for years. And our denial is being fed by most of the political parties that are presently vying for our votes. None of them tell us the truth. They are much too scared. They all had their share in preparing this dish. And the public and the media prefer it that way. By far. Because as long as we are in denial we can continue living our life as if everything is fine. We don’t have to bear the consequences of our mistakes, we don’t have to take responsibility. We don’t have to pay up. As long as we don’t say there’s anything wrong, there isn’t. Everything is just fine. But, like the Leonard Cohen song goes, everybody knows.

Everybody knows that our most acute problem, abundant political efforts of denial to the contrary, is the lack of a peace process and the lack of our willingness to compromise with the Palestinians. And, of course, their willingness to do likewise but there is precious little we can do to change their mind. It is us who we are talking about and it is us who are going to elections on March 17th. It is our opportunity to make a major change. It may well be our last opportunity to make the change by our own volition. If we don’t, change will be forced upon us and it won’t be pretty.

Everybody knows that the present government, mainly PM Netanyahu himself, has totally botched Israel’s critical relationship with the US, has turned a supportive President Obama into a political foe and even has managed to politicize the bipartisan support for Israel to an extent that almost makes our Prime Minister a persona non grata in the US. This at a time when we need the US more than ever to assure a reasonable agreement between the West and Iran that will prevent the latter from developing nuclear weapons.

Everybody knows that Netanyahu is an opportunist and a demagogue who stops at nothing to gain political advantage to remain in power. His self-serving political line is supported on a daily basis by US tycoon Sheldon Edelson through the latter’s biased newspaper “Israel Hayom”. Netanyahu has no ideological commitments and is willing to discard long-held promises (not to release terrorists for example) at the drop of a hat, against the advice of professionals, when it is politically exepedient. He is married to a woman who at best has a borderline personality and at worst is certifiable. There are hundreds of individuals who, over time, have been exposed to her outrageous behavior and her antics have occasionally been splashed on the front pages of the leading newspapers or appear in court transcripts when her victims take her to court which happens from time to time.

Everybody knows that Israel cannot continue with a Prime Minister who is under the influence of a problematic spouse who participates in top-secret meetings and influences major appointments even though she has never been vetted to the degree required. So at least says Meir Dagan the former head of the Mossad but what does he know…

That same woman uses her position to gain material benefits not legally due her, her husband and her children and has been doing so ever since entering the Prime Minister’s residence, at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer. All this has been going on for years despite testimonies to that effect, with the silent support of the government’s legal advisor and the State Ombudsman who have been holding a protective screen over the ongoings.

Everybody knows that our economical situation is not bad, on average. But, as we all know, one can drown in a lake whose depth, on average, is 20 cm. And people do drown, every day in our cut throat economy where the salaries haven’t gone up in years, apartments have become unaffordable and investment in public services has only decreased over time and so has their quality. After taking pride in joining the OECD – an organization that was forced, almost at gunpoint by then US President George W. Bush to take us in although we hardly met its preconditions, we now regularly are on the bottom, or close to it, of the OECD’s performance scales.

Everybody knows that the governing coalition has no declared agenda. And neither does the ruling party, Likud. How do we know ? Because it has been in power long enough to have a record. The record is one of crony-capitalism and land grabs, enriching those that are well-off already and giving privileges on land that is either under contention with the Palestinian Authority or else has been appropriated by the state from its original Palestinian owners, to settlers that are inspired by messianic religious convictions. The outgoing government made no secret of its policies of uneven and unjust distribution of services and subsidies giving preference to its ideological supporters. This government has given Zionism a bad name.

Everybody knows that Israel, for 47 years, has maintained an occupation of land claimed by Palestinians, a claim that is supported by the whole world. Every single country. Everybody knows, or could know if interested, that the occupation is violent and and that on average, 3-5 Palestinians die in confrontations with the IDF in the occupied territories every single month. Everybody knows that a population subjected to continuous violence will, from time to time, rise up against its oppressors and everybody knows that the clock has been running ever since the last uprising.

Everybody knows that the Gaza strip is an area with a population density that is close to the highest in the world and has been under more or less severe sanctions for almost 10 years. During this time the Gaza strip has been pummeled in repeated Israeli reprisal raids which have killed thousands of civilians. Everybody knows that since the last violent exchange in the summer of 2014, nothing has happened that improves the situation of the population and there is no reason in the world why there shouldn’t be another violent exchange, any day now.

Everybody knows that our population in the South has been sorely neglected and the threat of rocket fire and tunnels from Gaza has severely harmed their feeling of security to a degree that their continued settlement there cannot be taken for granted anymore.

Everybody knows that the city of Jerusalem has been divided de-facto for many years, that the Eastern part has been terribly neglected in comparison to the Western part and that the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, despite ostensibly having rights as residents of Israel, is severely discriminated against on a daily basis. As a result, the city’s Eastern parts are on edge with violent demonstrations likely to break out with any triggering event.

Everybody knows that our being here in the Middle East, in a state of our own, is contingent upon the political support of the Western world, be it Europe or the US. Without this support, the count-down for our international delegitimization will run even faster.  Nevertheless, the outgoing government has made an enormous effort to literally spite our friends and allies and ignore all their protestations and warnings, and to hell with the consequences.

PM Netanyahu, should he be reelected, will destroy what is left of the moral fiber of the State of Israel. Everybody knows. On March 17th, don’t give him the opportunity.


About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".