On Sunday, Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu (Otzma Yehudit) made a rookie mistake: he expected the mainstream media to understand his comment in its context and not cherry-pick his brief aside to color everything else he was saying (Bibi Ousts Otzma Yehudit Minister from Cabinet Meetings for Suggesting Nuclear Option in Gaza).
The next day, the Haaretz editorial, which last Friday called for Netanyahu to sack Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, declared: “Fire the extreme right from the government immediately.”
Radio Kol Barama host Yaki Adamker asked Minister Eliyahu if the IDF should drop an atomic bomb on the Gaza Strip, which was the host’s colorful way of asking, should we kill all of them?
For the record: Israel can’t drop an atomic bomb on the Gaza Strip without turning half of its own territory into badlands and evaporating a third of its own people. Adamker was not literally suggesting that Israel consider embarking on a nuclear holocaust.
In his response, Eliyahu did not even mention the A word. He merely sidestepped the issue within their conversation, saying, “That’s one way,” and moved directly to deliver his own message, which was that the Hamas are not afraid to die, but they are afraid to lose their land, and so the proper punishment and deterrence must be to take away their land.
Neither Adamker nor Eliyahu expected the leftist mainstream media to blow that itsy bitsy part of their conversation way out of proportion, nor did they expect the entire Muslim world from Pakistan to Morocco to start revving up panicky reactions to the Zionist sinister plot to drop an atomic bomb on Gaza.
That’s because both the host and his guest are not ready for prime time. They are enthusiastic amateurs trying to play against the professionals and they are lousy at it. Their punishment should be to watch 30 or so hours of videos of Benjamin Netanyahu talking to the press in both Hebrew and English. A consummate pro, he has been swatting at mean pitches since he served as Israel’s UN ambassador, from 1984-1988.
Incidentally, I’ve been watching Otzma Yehudit Chairman Itamar Ben Gvir slowly developing into a major leaguer. He had a few rough and tumble months in the beginning, falling into every hole and every trap, wagging an irate finger at everything that moved, feeling, and worse, saying that he was the victim of this or that evil bureaucrat, police chief, judge, attorney general. But look at him now: he is slow to anger, speaks softly, and lets others carry his water, but even better – he is getting great results! Standby squads, long weapons to these standby squads, a simplified gun permit process, greater limits on security prisoners, and even a significant slowing down of the murder spree in the Arab sector.
Back to Monday’s Haaretz editorial. It packed such a concentrated version of 9 months of the social networks’ most acerbic notions into the opening paragraph, that you had to wonder if it hadn’t been written by one of those Iranian bots whose mission is sawing hatred and division among Israelis. Here goes, try to count how many pellets of hate were crammed into it:
“The things that Minister Amichai Eliyahu of Otzma Yehudit said yesterday, in favor of the option of dropping an atom bomb on the Gaza Strip, are not an Israeli propaganda problem, but a problem of Israel’s reality. The problem is not one statement or another, but the power and legitimacy that exists today in Israel, and in the government, for the Jewish-Messianic-Kahanist-extreme-right (my hyphens – DI), which supports annexation and occupation and prayer on the Temple Mount, which sees the war as an opportunity, and despises the international community, the international institutions, and the rules of warfare.”
Reading this editorial was like running into Shikma Bressler in a dark alley and she was waving half a dozen flags and a megaphone.
Here’s the thing: the Knesset faction that ran under Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, and included Amichai Eliyahu, won 10.84% of the vote. That’s 516,470 Israelis. The Haaretz editorial suggests a ban on close to 11% of the citizenry for holding views that are contrary in every way to those of the Haaretz editorial board. I’m not arguing against the likelihood of Prime Minister Netanyahu agreeing to cut off his own head by letting go of his two right-wing allies – that goes without saying. I am, however, wondering if the Israeli left, which is spearheaded by Haaretz, has ever truly integrated the idea of a democratic system.
Also, is it possible that these entitled offspring of Israel’s founding-generation are still entertaining the notion of ever staging a comeback? The two parties that represent their political aspirations, Labor and Meretz, can’t scrape together between them enough votes to allow both to cross the 3.25% threshold, it’s got to be either or. Meanwhile, the right in Israel which took a massive hit in the recent polls is slowly coming back. There may be changes, and Netanyahu may have to give up his seat, but the notion of the current government going down in flames any time soon is farfetched.
Speaking for all the other Israeli extremists who support not only annexation but the return of Jews to Gush Katif, not only prayer on the Temple Mount but also the Pascal sacrifices and prostrating on the ancient stones on Yom Kippur, and the war as an opportunity, absolutely, to rid the Jews, Druze, Christians, and Muslins of Eretz Israel of the tyranny of Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO, and Iran, may I say – Haaretz, you ain’t seen nothing yet.