Netanyahu cannot do to Israel what he has done to Likud

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Opinion: The gulf between the interests of the nation and those of its leader is growing as the prime minister places his own preservation above everything else, and now his party is required to declare he is their one and only leader

Ben-Dror Yemini-  www.ynetnews.com

Israel is not Turkey and Benjamin Netanyahu is not Tayyip Recep Erdogan.

When Israel is accused of bringing about the “end of democracy” and of silencing opposition voices, I try to call out these false allegations – sometimes made by enemies and sometimes by those genuinely concerned about the country’s future, so much so that they seem to have lost their minds.

But as time goes by, it seems the ruling Likud party and its leader are acting in a way that gives weight to these far-fetched accusations.

In one such example, Netanyahu made every attempt to secure electoral success for the adherents of racist rabbi Meir Kahane, who was himself forced out of the Knesset and outlawed for his policies.

Another example is pressing Likud candidates to declare their loyalty to the supreme leader, the new “sun of the nations” – Benjamin Netanyahu, first of his name, who’s perenially tweeting son may harbor hopes of succession.

How is it that no other Likud leader, or any other party leader for that matter, has ever felt the need to have its members declare loyalty in such a hasty and embarrassing manner? No other leader, it seems, was ever this afraid.

Netanyahu is in fact changing before our eyes. Once a wizard who could escape any political mess, whose reputation and support were due to the wonderful things he had done and could do for the nation. Now he is a haunted man grasping at declarations of loyalty.

And as the old Netanyahu disappears and the new one takes his place, he is no longer a wizard or a strong leader. He now choses his own interests over those of his country.

Past leaders of Likud have and would again walked out of the Knesset plenum in protest if Kahane or any of his supporters were given the opportunity to speak.

But our current prime minister was willing to embrace long-time Kahane acolyte Itamar Ben-Gvir, who made threats towards Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was ultimately assassinated by a right-wing Jewish extremist.

Netanyahu sees no problem in accepting support from such a man, whom most would consider a national disgrace, whose expresses his admiration for Baruch Goldstein, who shot dead 29 Muslim worshippers in 1994, by keeping a portrait of the mass-murderer on his living room wall.

Everyone knows that is wrong. Even on the right. Even Netanyahu.

Back when he was finance minister, the previous manifestation of Netanyahu understood the importance of integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the workforce. He even cut some of their state-funded stipends in order to encourage more of the sector to go out to work.

Now Netanyahu accepts any diktat from ultra-Orthodox politicians, walking back any progress he once made for the good of the economy.

In the past, the importance of supporting only West Bank settlements located within the blocs would be seen as prudent and logical by the man at the helm, but now, Netanyahu is trying to play catch up with the most extreme elements of the settler community.

Thanks to this misguided policy, he is laying the groundwork for a binational state that will have to choose between being Jewish or being democratic.

The future of Israel be damned as long as the future of its prime minister is served.

I have never belonged to the “Just Not Netanyahu” chorus, but as time goes on, I cannot help but see the widening gulf between the interests of the country and those of its leader.

A declaration of loyalty is not only superfluous and a sign of weakness, it is an act of madness.

Likud members stayed quiet when Ben-Gvir and everything he stands for was brought into the legitimate fold. Now they are accepting the humiliating demand that they declare loyalty to the leader. What will they agree to next?

What has happened to the Likud must not happen to our country.

 

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