Netanyahu stoked primal fears in Israel. Now my country is divided as never before

Anshel Pfeffer writes: 48 hours before the polls opened, on a train from Jerusalem, making the winding journey downhill to Tel Aviv, the passengers, mainly soldiers and police officers returning to their bases after a weekend’s leave, were talking about the election. “I didn’t want to vote Bibi, he’s been around too long, but now there’s a danger of the left coming to power, so we have to vote Bibi,” was a sentence I heard repeated up and down the train.

The fatigue that most Israelis felt for Netanyahu was very real. In poll after poll large majorities answered that they would prefer change and more votes were cast for parties who were critical of his policies and whose leaders, if they could find a way of sitting together in one government, would have gladly replaced him.

So how did Netanyahu manage in the last six days of the campaign to convince more than 250,000 voters to change their minds and vote Likud? Why did his rivals fail so miserably at mobilising the anti-Netanyahu sentiment into a coherent and cohesive political force?

Netanyahu won the election because he succeeded in stoking a deep and irrational fear of the left. A left which – or so runs the line – is too complacent, too cosmopolitan, too secular and too lacking in an ideological backbone to stand up for Israel’s interests.

Netanyahu’s cynical ploy on election day, when he warned in a personal message on his Facebook page of “droves of Arabs” descending on the polls, was appealing less to the racism of his potential voters than to their fear that the left was incapable of keeping a hold on power and would be easily manipulated by outside forces. He was warning them that should they vote for someone else, Jews would be losing control of their destiny in their land. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Netanyahu stoked primal fears in Israel. Now my country is divided as never before

  1. Barbara Armour

    Netanyahu and Israel have not supported any initiative to bring the Palestinians and Israelis together as NEIGHBORS! Forget the rhetoric of days gone by…remember that Palestinians had occupied their territory for thousands of years before the Allies ruled they MUST share territory with the Jewish people! Even though the Jews recognized territories of ancient significance,the reality was these lands were occupied by Palestinians! Why was the United States formed? Because people of vision believed that people of divergence could occupy lands together in harmony and creativity!! We,in the United States have proved it can be a reality,living in harmony and divergence! The Jewish people should look to the USA,not as their protectors, but as people who have learned to share our land with ALL peoples,ALL religious beliefs,ALL philosohies,not in arrogance but in a common bond in humanity…brother and sisters in the bond of human history,progress and future enlightenment! Get over your history,Jewish people…embrace the future with HOPE,LOVE and mutual RESPECT! Your children deserve a future of beauty,excellence and prosperity! Give it to them! Now!!

  2. Paul Woodward

    Before trumpeting America’s virtues in promoting a pluralistic society, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this is a nation that was created through the dispossession and genocide of the indigenous population, by colonizers who amassed their wealth on the backs of slaves.

    It’s not that the Israelis have failed to followed the example of America, but rather that they have followed this example too closely.

    As for the American spirit of sharing, that needs to be extended more generously to the descendents of the peoples who inhabited these continents long before the Europeans arrived — the people whose poorly rewarded labor keeps the American economy running.

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