Analysis: ‘Misobibi’ or ‘anti-Bibi-ism’?

By making the race about himself and not his largely well-received policies, the prime minister may be playing into the hands of the “misobibi- ists.”

December 16, 2014 03:22
2 minute read.

Benjamin Netanyahu at Knesset disperal vote. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Politicophobia is defined by as “fear and almost hatred of politicians.”

When it comes to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there are more and more political rivals who hate him, but he no longer instills fear in Israeli politics, so there is no “Bibiphobia.”

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The more apt words to coin from what has happened in the election campaign would be “misobibi,” using the hatred prefix found in misanthropy and misogyny, or simply anti-Bibi-ism.

There are three different kinds of misobibi that have been displayed at the beginning of the election campaign.

First of all, there is the mix of ideological animosity and personal hatred displayed by Hatnua head Tzipi Livni. Her misobibi resulted in insults that were literally below the belt when she called him impotent and garbage on a TV satire show Saturday night.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, Hatnua MK Amir Peretz, and other ideological foes of Netanyahu share Livni’s form of misobibi.

Another, perhaps somewhat less legitimate form of misobibi, is that of Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon.

Their animosity toward Netanyahu comes from poor personal experiences with him, not ideology at all.

Liberman repeated over and over again in interviews over the past few days that he “respects” Netanyahu.

But he clearly doesn’t like him.

Kahlon’s campaign strategists have told him not to attack Netanyahu directly. Better to attack Lapid, with whom he met Monday.

But Kahlon’s experiences with Netanyahu have been almost as unpleasant as that of his close friend, almost Likud contender Gideon Sa’ar.

The final kind of misobibi is that of Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett: the bear hug misobibi.

Bennett, who had a very negative experience as Netanyahu’s chief of staff, announced at the Saban Forum that he and the prime minister had decided not to attack each other. He will kill Netanyahu with kindness, perhaps the most effective weapon.

Even as new recruit Dani Dayan said beside him that he wanted Bennett to form the next government, the Bayit Yehudi leader has been careful not to call himself a candidate for prime minister – a moniker chosen by Herzog, Lapid, and Liberman.

The more he praises Netanyahu, the less guilty Likud voters will feel when they shift rightward to Bayit Yehudi. The moment Bayit Yehudi passes Likud in the polls, Netanyahu will be in serious political trouble.

If Bennett takes over the Right, where can Netanyahu go? The overcrowded Center? If Livni’s misobibi can be compared to Pharaoh’s approach to the Jews, Bennett’s is that of the Hellenists in the Hanukka story. Assimilation, rather than overt annihilation, can be a more effective political strategy.

As usual, when it comes to Netanyahu, his own worst enemy may end up being himself.

The message he has been conveying since he initiated the election is that it is all about him, that if voters want a stable government under him, they must vote Likud.

By making the race about himself and not his largely well-received policies, the prime minister may be playing into the hands of the “misobibi- ists.”

Misobibi-ists – another word has been coined.

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