Foreign workers' kids. Yishai just wants a pure Jewish state
Photo: Yaron Brener
Ahmadinejad. The new Hitler?
Photo: Reuters
Emmanuel Rosen
Photo: Sharon Beck

Our national paranoia

Op-ed: Israelis make unprecedented, inflated use of apocalyptic term ‘existential threat’

A sane, clear voice emerged out of the prime minister’s residence over the weekend. The letter, addressed to Interior Minister Eli Yishai and demanding an end to the ugly persecution of hundreds of children, was written by Sara Netanyahu. Yet this appeal came from the residence that in recent years has symbolized more than anything else our new national narrative: Fear.


We wake up in the morning and are afraid of the Iranian threat. We eat lunch quickly for fear of the foreign workers at our gates. At night, we can’t fall asleep because of the hundreds of thousands of Arab Israelis who plot against us and spy for Nasrallah.


We vote for the prime ministers who manage to make us most scared, disparage those who wish to bring us some hope and allay our fears, and grant 15 Knesset seats to a party that we know nothing about just because it helps us fear the world better.


The Jewish people lived and survived through myths of courage and overcoming difficulties. The State of Israel was premised on the narrative of few against many. The world was always a dangerous place for us, yet never before had we been dominated by the element of fear to such extent.


Even in the years where we truly faced existential danger around here, we did not use the apocalyptic term “existential threat” as much as we do today, in vain.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu owes his first term in office to successful scaremongering techniques. He understood that the people fear the horror of terror attacks and need a strong leader who would be scared together with them. Now, he dedicates his second term in office to the Iranian threat, the bonding experience of our national paranoia.


Anyone daring to question the notion that Iran is the new Germany and that Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler is apparently an idiot, or a leftist, or both of these things combined.


Resorting to magic formula

In the name of fear of Iranian extermination, Israel is now acquiring fighter jets at the cost of billions of dollars. After all, we’re scared, we are facing an “immediate existential threat,” so let the tranquilizers cost whether they may. The argument that 10% of the insane sum spent on the world’s best, most expensive aircraft could have been used to save us from the real threats gnawing at us – the education system’s collapse, the welfare crisis, the reckless violence, and the deaths on our roads – is apparently reserved for idiots, leftists, or mere populists.


The same feeling of fear in the face of extermination is also at the base of Eli Yishai’s war against foreign workers. After all, the Shas leader doesn’t really think that the Sudanese or Filipinos actually take away the jobs of even one Israeli. He also doesn’t care that they create neighborhoods filled with distress alongside kosher, Jewish junkies and prostitutes.


Yishai just wants a pure Jewish state, yet as this argument may sound problematic, he resorts to the magic formula: Let’s be scared. Let’s tell the paranoids in Israel that millions of black, Muslim Sudanese and Eritreans are waiting at our gates and that if we fail to expel 800 or 400 children, they will end up expelling us.


This exaggerated, baseless argument was used by Netanyahu as well a few months ago. The same Netanyahu whose wife finally found the courage to come out of the closet and tell her husband, the interior minister, and all the cowards around here that the time has come to relax; that these children of foreign workers, even if there were 12,000 of them, or even 100,000 and not just 1,200, don’t really threaten us.


For the prime minister’s wife, it’s an opportunity to reveal a side of her that we are unfamiliar with in the midst of all the negative news stories about her attitude to her maids or her improper involvement in government appointments. Yet if the reports that Sara Netanyahu’s influence on her husband is virtually unlimited are true, this time all of us (both fans and foes) should hope that this influence will indeed work.



פרסום ראשון: 08.15.10, 12:17
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