The thing about the Israeli Left is that they only talk to each other, so they are shocked, shocked, when a remark that seems to them totally normal strikes regular people as beyond the pale.
Take the recent Facebook post by Orna ben Dor. In case you don’t recognize the name, she is a filmmaker, TV director and writer whose accomplishments include directing three seasons of me’usharot, the Israeli version of the American reality show “Real Housewives” (video here, if you can stand it).
Here’s what she wrote (my translation):
Now he’s [Netanyahu] also Economics Minister and we do nothing. Gripe a little, get a little depressed, get stabbed a little, get very disgusted, but do nothing. A kind of limpness. A lack of faith in ourselves. Tell me, when Hitler came to power did the “good Germans” also gripe, but continue with their daily routine?
It sounds a lot like she’s comparing our Prime Minister to Hitler, doesn’t it, as well as blaming him for the recent wave of Arab stabbing attacks. No wonder it made the front page of the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom, and why the members of Netanyahu’s Likud party are furious.
Ben Dor responded that she was misunderstood, that what she meant was not that Netanyahu was like Hitler, but that Israelis were like the Germans of Hitler’s day. Well, yes. That too. Israelis love to be called ‘good Germans’. But not only that.
Words have meanings and impact. Words can be weapons, and she used them that way. Now she is complaining that “Netanyahu’s soldiers” are “pursuing” her. She is complaining that the headline on the story in Israel Hayom (“This isn’t incitement? Director ben Dor compared Netanyahu to Hitler”) gave a “distorted impression” of what she said. You read her post; you can decide for yourself.
This week Israelis are marking the assassination of PM Yitzhak Rabin, twenty years ago. Yesterday there was a big rally in Tel Aviv. Among the speakers was Bill Clinton, and even Barack Obama sent a recorded message calling, as usual, for Israel to “make compromises and take risks.”
One of the themes of the rally was the danger of internal strife and incitement, like that which preceded the assassination of Rabin, including the distribution of pictures of Rabin in a Nazi uniform. President Reuven Rivlin said,
And to those who silence, who threaten, who raise clenched fists, who create pictures of SS [uniforms], to those who threaten MKs, judges, ministers and prime ministers, I want to say today: We are not afraid of you.
Since the assassination, the Left has spared no vitriol in blaming the Right, and especially Netanyahu, for it. This is despite the fact that the famous picture of Rabin as an SS officer was created and distributed by Avishai Raviv, an agent provocateur working for the Shabak (Israel’s internal security service) in order to discredit right-wing opponents of Oslo.
Comparisons with Nazis were always a Big Deal in Israel, and even more so since the Rabin assassination. An editor for YNet (the news website associated with the Yediot Aharonot newspaper) was recently fired for posting a picture of Netanyahu in a Nazi uniform on his personal Facebook page.
The interesting part of the ben Dor controversy is the way she appears to be completely clueless about why people are so upset about her comments.
Her combination of viciousness and lack of comprehension marks the latest in a series of similar incidents in which the ‘creative’ and media elite of Israel have exposed themselves as both stupid and bigots. There was the famous remark by entertainer Dudu Topaz in 1981 that Likud voters were “chachachim” (a vulgar name for Mizrachim), and author and artist Yair Garbuz’s reference to “kissers of amulets, idol-worshippers and people who bow down and prostrate themselves on the graves of saints” this March. Shortly thereafter, poet and actress Alona Kimchi said Likud voters were “f-ing neanderthals” who should “take cyanide.” In June, actor/director Oded Kotler called them “straw and cud munching cattle.”
The pattern repeats over and over. The very people who claim that Netanyahu and his supporters are anti-democratic, racist, ideological sheep exhibit precisely those characteristics themselves. And the more their political camp recedes into irrelevance, the angrier they get. They’re entitled to be angry if they want. But what they are doing is libeling and inciting.
The old saw about ‘no atheists in foxholes’, about degrees of danger felt personally, seems like another angle on the Israeli Left’s obtuseness. One wonders where they live–I’m told that residents of Greater Tel Aviv do not ‘feel’ the pressures of citizenry elsewhere, certainly not like Sderot or Jerusalem, where survival is a moment by moment affair–, how they work and what their children do. I know Israelis have a peculiar and hard-to-imagine strength about danger, but it’s always a marvel to me how external threats do not unify the populace fully. It’s almost as if every Jewish child is born with one scripture: Find a niche for yourself somewhere on the spectrum of politics, no matter how extreme it may be.
Throughout my life I’ve given to environmental causes, including Alaskan organizations. I have the feeling that if I ever visited Alaska, there would be a run-in with a bear. Same for Israel…, which fish would I meet in the kettle were I to visit.
The notion of the Left’s irrelevance would be so much more calming if I did not read so many articles about how they have Israel by the throat in the media, academia and judiciary and the Ben Dors and their Dumbledors were not airing their inanity so loudly.
I did not mean to malign the Dumbledores either.
This isn’t insularity; it’s just a stupidity bordering on mental illness. One doesn’t have to agree with a viewpoint to address it in a civil fashion, with logic rather than ad hominem onslaught. And yet I’m seeing more of the latter and less of the former all the time from these people. What’s the payoff for them?