How the Israeli Right succeeds at making itself the victim

From prostituting women to befriending anti-Semites, the Israeli Right has reached a level in which revealing its transgressions only evokes wonderment among its supporters.

By Almog Behar

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen with his wife Sara and their son Yair, celebrating the Prime Minister’s 64th birthday, October 20, 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen with his wife Sara and their son Yair, celebrating the Prime Minister’s 64th birthday, October 20, 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO

We are in the historical stage of the ideological Right, in which every single detail, which would have previously embarrassed the right wing, now only strengthens it.

The most recent example of this phenomenon is that of Ateret Cohanim, the settler organization that used prostitutes, front organizations, and threats of murder to buy Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem. The story, published by Haaretz’s Nir Hasson, did not lead to condemnations by the Right. The majority of the ideological Right is not looking to justify these deeds through ideology or religion, since they view the organization’s deeds as a mitzvah on the way to taking control of more land. Ateret Cohanim’s cleverness evokes wonderment rather than criticism.

A smokescreen for the regime

Similarly, the relationship between the Israeli Right and anti-Semites, which has included inviting the latter to visit settlements and partner together on projects, evokes the same feeling among the Israeli Right that revelations about Trump evoke among his supporters: hatred for the media and the Left, along with a deep belief that support for European and American anti-Semites is worth it, so long as it is coupled with support for Israel, Zionism, and Islamophobia. As Yair Netanyahu, son of the prime minister, recently wrote on his personal Facebook page, the real danger is the Left, including groups such as Black Lives Matter and the BDS movement, rather than the extreme right that believes in white supremacy or neo-Nazism.

Moreover, revelations of corruption among figures such as Netanyahu and Liberman, much like the Russia investigation, evoke even more hatred toward the media and the Left, along with a feeling of persecution and victimization. This despite them being in control of the country. Beyond that, the Right believes their leaders’ corruption is a good thing, since such corruption can be used to promote its ideological goals. After all, a good leader must know how to lie and apologize; honesty and decency are for weaklings, and harms the nation.

Israelis block a road during a protest against government corruption, Tel Aviv on December 9, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israelis block a road during a protest against government corruption, Tel Aviv on December 9, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Meanwhile, the recent revelations about the Netanyahu family do not convince anyone who wasn’t already convinced about their corruption. The repeated reports on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged treatment of her workers at the Prime Minister’s Residence led to a sense that the prime minister’s wife was the victim of persecution by the media and the Left. The absurd assumption that the prime minister did not know about the goings on in his own residence created a feeling that instead of criticizing Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife was being held responsible for his misdeeds.

Reports on Yair Netanyahu, who allegedly does not pick up his dog’s feces, publishes anti-Semitic caricatures on Facebook, does not work, visits strip clubs, proposes to pimp out his girlfriend, and who was recently caught drunkenly bragging about the $20 billion dollar deals the prime minister arranged for his friends’ father, only cause the Right to feel sorry for him. The hatred for the media and the Left, of course, only grow.

It is possible that it all helps the Right to strengthen its rule. In the age when the Right has turned scandals into its main strategy, the very mention of Yair Netanyahu’s name becomes a smokescreen for the regime.

Almog Behar is an author and poet. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.