Israel Elections: The Israeli public, the abused spouse

We’ve been living with the inability to have any semblance of normalcy and a stable government, and the inability to vote in a way in which the outcome is decisive.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu makes a pre-election visit to Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market in February 2020 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu makes a pre-election visit to Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market in February 2020
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Elections are coming up in Israel again, the fourth time in two years. Israelis, now more than ever, are feeling like it’s time for a change, that they have been subject to abuse and ridicule long enough.
We’ve been living with the inability to have any semblance of normalcy and a stable government, and the inability to vote in a way in which the outcome is decisive. It’s a chicken-and-the-egg situation with a dose of self-mutilation.
The symptoms are very much like Israel being a victimized spouse in an ongoing abusive relationship.
Despite the abuse, going on for some time, Israelis may be getting the gumption to break free. Just as with an actual abusive spouse, there are many “good” reasons to have stayed with the abuser all this time. Overall, life in Israel is pretty good. We have a lot to be thankful for and feel secure about. Of course, the neighbors don’t know what’s happening behind the doors of our house, but more and more there are rumors in the neighborhood of things not being as rosy as they were a dozen years ago when the love affair started.
We’ve led ourselves to believe that we still love our abuser. If only given better circumstances, he would change. Maybe WE are to blame. After all, if we had only voted to give him the government that he wants and needs, everything would be OK.
We may not feel safe or happy individually all the time, and he’s certainly taken liberties. But then again, we’re actually pretty safe as a nation. Threats have been dealt with far from our borders, delivering a harsh blow to those who really want to cause us harm. How can we blame the abuser for receiving some expensive gifts and being able to unwind with a cigar and a good drink after a hard day at the office? What’s the big deal if he’s made a deal for favorable stories to be circulated? After all, he really just wants what’s best for all of us. Pocketing the money from returning plastic bottles, at least he’s recycling. And who cares if he likes a good pistachio ice cream. We all have our weaknesses.
Despite the abuse, we fluctuate between denying that anything is wrong and believing that he’s still the best we have. It’s true. He is the best. Most Israelis agree. Look at the neighbors’ spouses. None of them can hold a candle to our spouse. He’s got all it takes to keep things headed apace, even if he’s imperfect. Look at the relationships he has with others, whether they fear, loathe or respect him, he’s getting the job done. Israel has never had more security and stability. He’s good for the family. We have a comfortable home, food on the table and clothes on our backs.
THE PANDEMIC has been a disaster across the board, but he formed a unity government, putting aside all issues other than making us all safe and healthy. He didn’t want the government to break up, and how can one really put together a budget in a pandemic anyway? And look! We’re leading the world in vaccinations, already two million of us so far.
Israel is respected now like never before. Certainly, he’s made all that happen and nobody else could fill his shoes, even if he’s stepped on the toes of all the competitors for our attention and votes.
Of course, it’s not always bad all the time. Enemies have come to love us. We’re welcome to travel to more places. We’re leading the world in vaccinating the population, even if we’re also leading the world in elections happening too often, and even if the economic devastation wreaked by the pandemic is complemented by unnecessary elections. And it’s not all his fault that we’re going to elections again in March. He tried to hold the government together. He said so.
Everything was going fine, and we seemed to be able to live with all the wrinkles until a former neighbor moved back to town. The fresh coat of paint on the neighbor’s house and the carefully kept shrubs have started to make some of us look at our own homes and yards. What’s been happening behind closed doors is seeping out. The paint on our house is a little faded and dirty. The yard is not as well kept as it was. Maybe the new neighbor has the ability to clean things up broadly. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a change and to break the cycle of this abusive relationship.
According to the US National Domestic Violence Hotline, on average, a person will try to leave an abusive relationship seven times before making the final break with the abuser. Israel, to its credit, might be on the verge of making a break a little ahead of the curve. Or, maybe we’ll stand by our man, vote for him or some other mutation of an ineffective government.
Or maybe we’ll have no decisive outcome at all, again, and be well on our way to the fifth, sixth and maybe even seventh election, making us decidedly average and therefore maybe all the more in need of change.  
The writer is a proud Israeli who is devoted to his family and the future well-being of Israel. He runs the Genesis 123 Foundation, which builds bridges between Jews and Christians, and Christians with Israel in ways that are new, unique and meaningful.