Right-wing anti-corruption protest is just the tip of the iceberg
Op-ed: Anyone paying attention to the discourse developing in the Right in general, and in Likud in particular, knows that the frustration there is on the rise; the things being said about Netanyahu, and not just behind closed doors, are far from expressions of unconditional support.
In the last elections, the Zionist Union won 34.26 percent of the votes in Tel Aviv, the city where an absolute majority of the protestors likely came from. Meretz won 13.03 percent of the votes. The Arab Joint List won 3.25 percent. Most of the Joint List voters in Tel Aviv are likely Hadash members. Hadash’s presence in the protest, however, at least according to the signs, is close to 50 percent. So the Right rightly needed a separate protest.
The poll published on Channel 13’s “Meet the Press” on Saturday evening should concern Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. First of all, 59 percent of the public believe the police, and only 27 percent believe Netanyahu. Second, the majority of the public believes Netanyahu should resign if the police recommend an indictment against him, both on fraud and breach of trust offenses and on bribery offenses.
In other words, the prime minister’s horror speech last week was counterproductive. Even if we consider the polls’ standard deviation, a clear majority of the public is still on the law enforcement authorities’ side rather than on Netanyahu's side. The speech didn’t help Netanyahu; it hurt him.
Where is the Right in the picture? Well, the majority clearly doesn’t include only left-wing people, but also a considerable part of Likud voters. The Right has the same problem as the Left: It is incapable of getting masses out on the streets. The masses aren’t going out to protest. That doesn’t mean they support Netanyahu.
And when one of the prominent leaders of the national-religious Right, Rabbi Haim Druckman, issues a statement against the protest, the difficulty to speak out against Netanyahu grows. We should pay attention, however, to the fact that Druckman is doing exactly what the Left did to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during the disengagement from Gaza. He isn’t saying that Netanyahu is innocent and flawless. He is just saying that the Right must not do anything which would jeopardize the right-wing rule. He is keeping Netanyahu out of public criticism.
In the past few months, Netanyahu himself has become less and less stately. Last week’s speech against police recommendations wasn’t directed at the public. Its purpose was to motivate his fool fans in Likud. And they are indeed becoming much more aggressive. But it’s counterproductive: As Netanyahu and his blind followers become more and more blatant and less and less stately, they lose more and more members of the liberal, thinking Right, which puts the national interest first.
In general, the repeated attempts to urge the Right to launch a pro-Netanyahu protest against the Left were completely futile. I saw them there, again and again, in their wretchedness. It’s hard to say that there were several dozen of them there, because there weren’t. There were only few people, with a noisy microphone, which failed to cover up the disgrace.
Likud has a significant stately component. Nationalism is stateliness too. His anti-stately approach goes against the Right’s entire doctrine. Even the ideological Right, in the difficult moments of the disengagement, eventually chose the stately approach. But Netanyahu, in a moment of personal pressure, chose an opposite approach.
It isn’t helping him. On the contrary: Anyone paying attention to the discourse developing recently in the Right in general, and in Likud in particular, knows that the frustration there is on the rise. The things being said about Netanyahu, and not just behind closed doors, are far from expressions of unconditional support. Most importantly, they know that Netanyahu could have defended himself with slightly better arguments, and he has better arguments. But Netanyahu favors Netanyahu over stateliness.
The Right that protested in Jerusalem on Saturday evening is only the tip of the iceberg. They are hundreds who represent thousands. One of Netanyahu's foolish followers referred to them as “useful idiots of the Left.” That’s a baseless claim and a baseless comparison, because the useful idiots—today and in the past—are the ones who support, defend and justify regimes of tyranny and terror and who are mainly characterized by blindness. That’s exactly what characterizes Netanyahu's foolish followers today. The right-wing people who are taking to the streets to defend the rule of law and to fight corruption are not the ones suffering from blindness.
Netanyahu is waging a double battle, both legal and public. He already knows that he’s about to lose the first battle, once the police recommendations are published. His rivals are not the ones who are creating cracks in the Right that will lead to a loss in the public arena as well. It’s Netanyahu himself. It’s his conduct. It’s his anti-stateliness. He is bringing few people closer, but driving many others away.