Opinion: The prime minister’s incitement against the members of the nascent government serves not only to radicalize the country’s discourse, but proves that he has either lost his senses or that he simply doesn’t mind leaving nothing but scorched earth in his wake
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu(Photo: EPA)
|Less than 24 hours after Nadav Argaman, the head of the Shin Bet domestic security service, issued an unprecedented warning that the ongoing incitement from certain politicians could lead to violence, Benjamin Netanyahu made his opinions on the issue very clear.
The recent statements by the prime minister as he looks set to leave office bring to mind Sara Netanyahu’s infamous leak from 20 years ago, after it became clear that her husband was losing the Likud leadership race to Ariel Sharon.
“We’ll move abroad. Let this country burn,” Mrs. Netanyahu said in remarks for which she apologized but which also offered a small glimpse into of what her family truly thinks of Israel and Israelis.
And it seems that this attitude is still prevalent in the prime minister’s house.
Netanyahu could not muster the 61 Knesset members he needed to form a government and lashing out publicly in the throes of his anguish, he branded his political rivals as liars and slaves to Iran and the Hamas terrorist organization.
Behind Likud closed doors Netanyahu was more somehow more venomous, lambasting ally Yuval Steinitz for his opposition to holding protests directly outside the homes of elected right-wing officials in the coalition to unseat him.
Netanyahu has proven he has no qualms about using inciting speech, whatever the Shin Bet says.
Not long after Argaman’s warning – which was directed at both right and left – Netanyahu told his followers not to be afraid to “stick it to them.”
He was referring to his political opponents, including the Yamina MKs who are now being guarded around the clock.
There are two explanations for this reckless behavior. The first is that Netanyahu has lost his senses and cannot understand the influence his words have in the public sphere.
The second, far more horrifying and far more likely explanation given Netanyahu’s political savvy, is that the prime minister is knew exactly what he was saying and knew that his “stick it to them” remark would make headlines.
Unsurprisingly, extreme-right Likud MK May Golan soon after likened Yamina leader and Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett and New Hope chair Gideon Saar to suicide bombers during an interview with the Knesset Channel.
Golan, a follower of the teachings of racist rabbi Meir Kahane, was brought into Likud by Netanyahu himself.
Undoubtedly her words made Netanyahu proud, and the prime minister decided pour more oil on the fire by going on national TV himself to call Bennett a liar.
This is the same Netanyahu who said he would not negotiate with Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas, but who then made generous offers gestures to woo him before sending his mouthpieces out to explain how moderate and worthy the Arab politician actually is.
This is the same Netanyahu who vowed he would not participate in another rotation government, only to offer Bennett and Saar just that a few days later.
This is the same Netanyahu who made pledges to Blue & White leader Benny Gantz, only to violate them once their coalition government was inaugurated, plunging Israel into a fourth election round in less than two years, whh was also the second during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the same Netanyahu who has told a myriad of other lies, including that right-winger Moshe Kahlon would be the chairman of the Israel Lands Authority, that magnetometers would be placed on the Temple Mount, that Arab city Umm al-Fahm would be handed over to the Palestinians, that Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar would be evacuated, that the Jordan Valley would be annexed, that asylum seekers from war-torn countries would leave Israel as part of an agreement with the UN, and that he would never give up any land before eventually evacuating all the settlers from Hebron.
Netanyahu can level many claims against Bennett, such as that he preferred a government that he himself would head to a purely right-wing one.
But Netanyahu is certainly in no position to try to blacken the designated-premier’s integrity or personal life.
The prime minister should strive to calm tensions, not to incite them further.
There really is no need to drag the entire country into the fire with him.