Opinion: The PM’s followers ambush family of former Likud MK at home, flood social media with most crackpot theories about his opponents, and sit quietly by when Likud brings the functioning of the state to a halt at a most trying time
A Likud supporter holds an image of Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu at the party’s headquarters on Election Day 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party suffered an embarrassing defeat Monday when the Knesset voted to hand control of the all-important Arrangements Committee to the opposing side.
In fact, since the March 23 elections, when Israelis chose between the Netanyahu and the anti-Netanyahu camps, any political defeats are the prime minister’s alone and his public image as a magician and genius has been damaged – save in the eyes of his fervent followers.
On Monday, the Islamist Ra’am party led by Mansour Abbas cast the deciding vote to remove Likud from the leadership of the Arrangements Committee.
Abbas was insulted when the prime minister, who had been wooing him to support a new coalition, neglected to inform him of agreements reached with Naftali Bennett and his far-right Yamina party during separate negotiations.
With his feelings hurt, Abbas chose to support the opposing side as if to show he was not in Netanyahu’s pocket.
But insulting potential political partners is Netanyahu’s modus operandi. He repeatedly behaves as if he alone matters and everyone else is expendable.
He insulted former political ally Gideon Saar, who formed his own party after realizing his position in the Likud would never improve, and he insulted Bennett, who was deliberately kept out of the last functioning coalition.
Is it any wonder then that Netanyahu’s followers are flooding social media with posts lambasting both Saar and Bennett, branding them “leftists” and “traitors.”
The prime minister’s supporters are urged follow his lead, never thinking for themselves or voicing their own opinions.
With their help, even the most ridiculous theories get traction. Bennett and Saar are part of the old Israeli elite, they say, and it is this elite that is out to get the supreme leader.
And on Tuesday, a group of Netanyahu supporters converged on the home of Zeev Elkin, a senior Likudnik who absconded to Saar’s party. They harassed his wife and children, including his 5-year-old daughter, hurling insults and abuse outside the Elkin home.
Do they believe by attacking his family, Elkin will be forced to reconsider? Do they believe this abuse will bring him back into the Likud fold? Of course not. But Elkin betrayed Netanyahu and so he had to pay.
Anyone listening to Likud members speaking off the record can hear their frustration with Netanyahu. They see their supposedly democratic movement reduced to total submission to the will of the leader.
Unfortunately, the country is also being made to pay the price as Netanyahu’s allies prevent the Knesset from carrying out its duties.
After losing control of the Arrangements Committee, Likud MKs crossed all red lines by blocking appointments to critical parliamentary panels, including the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Finance Committee, as Israel deals with the Iranian threat and the pandemic-caused economic crisis.
The blind followers of Netanyahu have shown that country be damned, only the leader and his wishes matter.