For years, Netanyahu and the Likud told us that “Only Bibi can bring peace.” “Only Bibi” can extend the Abraham Accords to Saudi Arabia. “Only Bibi” can ensure our safety. “Only Bibi” can open the markets and expand the economy.
This language bothered me then. After October 7th, it bothers me even more.
For over a decade, I was a leading advocate in the movement to free agunot, women who are chained to dead marriages by their husbands. The refusal to allow a woman to leave a dead marriage is a form of domestic abuse. Abuse is defined by a pattern of controlling behavior. The insistence of a man to control his wife by refusing to issue her a Jewish divorce is an act of abuse.
Thus, as the executive director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), I developed a deep understanding of domestic abuse. Perhaps one of the most profound lessons I learned was the power of “only.”
There are beautiful sentiments of love that a husband can express to his wife. “I love you.” “I want to be here for you.” “I want to take care of you.” “I want you to be happy.”
But, there’s one word that an abusive husband can add to each of those expressions of love which turns it entirely on its head. One word that changes the statement of love to one of control and abuse.
“Only I love you.” “Only I want to be here for you.” “Only I want to take care of you.” “Only I want you to be happy.”
It makes me shudder just reading it. With the addition of “only,” the husband asserts his wife’s absolute dependence on him. With “only,” she lacks personal agency. She is told that she needs him and cannot survive without him. No one else cares about her or will help her. No one. Only him.
So she becomes emotionally and psychologically trapped. She feels like she can never leave.
“Only” has been Bibi’s message to us too. He has manipulated us into believing that no one else is qualified to lead. But, in a country of over 9 million people, I refuse to believe it.
Another crucial stance of an abusive husband is that he is never responsible for his actions. If there’s a problem, it’s always someone else’s fault, especially his wife. She’s an easy scapegoat since she can’t turn away and leave him. After all, he’s the only one who will ever love her. Where else should she go?
So she suffers through the abuse, and even though he is at fault, she is to blame.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that everyone is responsible for the cataclysmic failure of October 7th, except for… Bibi. Everyone else is at fault. Never him. We’re meant to forget his reassurance in December 2022 that he is in control of the country with “two hands firmly on the steering wheel.”
An abusive husband, or prime minister, is never to blame.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can end our abusive relationship with Bibi.
Our country’s success is not dependent on one man. Don’t be manipulated by his controlling rhetoric. He IS at fault. He HAS been in control. He IS to blame. And we, as a society, are much, much stronger than one man.
The one hope that an abused wife has to escape the control of her dominating husband is to awaken her own strength. Once she can start to see that HE, not SHE, is to blame, she can begin to break free from his abusive control.
It’s time for Bibi’s abusive control over the State of Israel to end. Yes, we had wonderful times together. Bibi did great things for the country. But the love turned into control, and that’s abuse. As a society, we must awaken our deep, internal strength so that we can start a new chapter and rebuild for the future.
It’s time for us, for the State of Israel, to break free.