Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday canceled his appearance before the delegates to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in Tel Aviv, for fear that Israeli and American anarchists would interrupt him and turn the event into a circus show (which was the case with MK Simcha Rothman’s appearance the next day). The scheduling vacuum was filled by opposition leader Yair Lapid, who was not heckled, and who told the delegates it was OK to love Israel and hate its democratically-elected majority government.
Netanyahu not only canceled his appearance, and didn’t even send a video speech. The Prime Minister’s Office apologized and pinned Netanyahu’s total retreat on scheduling constraints and preparations for the Memorial and Independence Day events, although the PM found time in his schedule to appear on the same Sunday at his libel trial against journalist Ben Caspit. Truth be told, Netanyahu realized that his meeting with liberal Diaspora Jews could create bad optics and chose to abandon the battlefield.
Yair Lapid showed up armed with everything that appeals to liberal American Jews: pathos, dripping honey, fake facts, false historic connections, revolutionary zeal, the works.
“Toward the end of the Declaration of Independence, there is an appeal to the Jewish people in all of the diaspora to gather around the Jews of the Land of Israel and stand by their side in the great struggle to fulfill the ancient dream – the redemption of Israel,” said the politician who wouldn’t recognize the redemption of Israel if his car ran over the messiah’s donkey.
“Today, perhaps more than ever, we need you to gather around us,” Lapid continued. “Stand with us. Remind your communities of that call in the Declaration of Independence. Remind them that their relationship is not with the government of Israel, but with the State of Israel and the people of Israel. Remind them that we are still family. Remind them that we should never let anyone break that bond – from outside or inside. This government was elected democratically, and this government will be replaced democratically.”
And by “replaced democratically,” Lapid means by using mob protests that have paralyzed the country for 16 weeks, so far, an illegal nationwide strike declared by the Histadrut trade union absent any semblance of a legal procedure, relentless harassment, and violations of the privacy of members of the coalition, advocating for the financial ruin of the state, conspiring with the White House against the ruling government – the list goes on and on.
Let’s digress for a moment: forget about the right-wing bloc’s current amazing 64 mandate majority in the Knesset. It was created by a fortunate set of circumstances that included a vote-gathering turbine named Benjamin Netanyahu campaigning day and night to gather every last possible vote for his own party and his four coalition partners; combined with the stunning selfishness of left-wing leaders, including Lapid, who didn’t give a hoot about their coalition partners.
But even without this one-time stunning achievement, the highest number of mandates the left, including Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, can hope for is plus-minus 52. And the highest “real” number for the right is 58. The remaining 10 mandates go to the Arab parties. There is no natural left-wing majority, but the right-wing figure does not include Netanyahu’s enemies on the right who side with Gantz and Lapid, who are worth between 6 and 8 mandates.
It means that the Israeli left cannot possibly unseat the right using only proper democratic methods such as campaigning to convince folks to vote for them. And once Netanyahu is out of the picture, in four or eight years, the right will undoubtedly undergo some kind of a transformation period, at the end of which it will settle on its real power of 60 to 70 percent of Israeli Jews. If Lapid wants to win in his lifetime, it must be done through extra-parliamentary methods, it must include violence and lots of it. And that was the subtext of Lapid’s message to the nice liberal Jews from America.
Here’s something Lapid did not plan for: unlike the Israeli anarchists, Jewish American liberals, card-carrying Democrats every last one of them, abhor his kind of thinking and implied methods. They have just been through an attempted insurrection by people who refused to embrace the results of the 2020 election, and they would not embrace the Israeli version of this anarchism, no matter how much they may dislike Netanyahu (and not all of them do by any stretch of the imagination, Bibi should have had the courage to reach out to them from the podium).
JFNA CEO Eric Fingerhut was aghast at the treatment of MK Rothman by Lapid’s anarchist allies. He told Ynet that the fact that the protest movements saw the GA as an opportunity to communicate with thousands of American Jews to reach out and build support, is a move that the conference participants greatly respect, but he refused to embrace the anti-democratic character of the protests: “There were some less pleasant moments, such as shouting against Rothman. We don’t understand, why shout at a speaker? They think it will make a person identify with their cause and make others listen? Even though we know that it has been happening all over Israel in recent months, it was a disappointment that it happened here, but it did not interfere with the conference. It did not change the experience of the people. There was one very frustrating session – with Rothman. Several people were taken out of the room and there was a lot of shouting.”
Fingerhut quickly qualified, saying that “in the session after the protestors, they told their story, after we created a special session for them. It was a wonderful session. It was an example of how the protest was involved with us in a positive way.”
Nu, American Jews, God love them. They insist on listening to both sides and get upset when one side tries to shout down the other. I strongly advise that should any of them decide to make Aliyah––which I very much yearn for––they should take one semester of Krav Maga. It’ll come in handy in the promised land.