Netanyahu's post-election silence has the opposition imploding - analysis

Just as the prime minister’s decision to talk so much during the campaign was strategic, so too was his silence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at a Clalit vaccination center in Zarzir, on February 9, 2021. (photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen speaking at a Clalit vaccination center in Zarzir, on February 9, 2021.
(photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised many by remaining almost completely silent for a full week after the March 23 election.
Until a tweet attacking Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Tuesday afternoon and his speech to the nation on Wednesday, Netanyahu made no public appearances and posted nothing political, to the point that Gantz accused him of entering a bunker.
It was a palpable contrast, following three months of intense campaigning and weeks of daily interviews with countless media outlets.
But just as Netanyahu’s decision to talk so much during the campaign was strategic, so was his silence.
The less Netanyahu talked, the less the camp trying to replace him was reminded of the urgency of their task at hand.
If that was Netanyahu’s strategy, it certainly appears to have worked.
While he quietly calculated his moves for the fateful days ahead, the anti-Netanyahu camp was talking way too much and imploding at the worst possible time.
The extent of how bad it has gotten can best be proved by New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar’s tweets insulting Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid after 10 p.m. Tuesday night.
Sa’ar could have called on Lapid to step aside and enable Yamina leader Naftali Bennett to form a government in a nice, courteous way, ideally in private. The New Hope leader had wanted Lapid to do everything possible to pursue Bennett, because of the importance of preventing him from joining a Netanyahu-led government.
But Sa’ar, who is still mad at Lapid for meeting with Ra’am (United Arab List) head Mansour Abbas the morning after the Passover Seder instead of wooing Bennett, chose to publicly shame him on social media instead.
In his tweet to Lapid, Sa’ar called him “Guteh,” a name familiar to Israelis from the classic 1972 movie Metzitzim, whose English name is Peeping Toms.
Guteh was a lazy, amoral hipster played by Uri Zohar, who is now a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbi but was far from it in those days. Guteh spent his days drinking, doing drugs and chasing women.
“It’s a big insult,” veteran Jerusalem Post film critic Hannah Brown said. “It’s like calling him a lazy slacker lightweight.”
Sa’ar’s earlier tweet that he had “conceded his ego” and urged Lapid to do the same, led to a fight on Twitter. Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy mocked Sa’ar, saying “you conceded your ego with six mandates? Amazing. Serious concession.”
New Hope MK-elect Sharren Haskel defended her party leader, writing Levi “Mickey: This was your election promise. Even when you had 36 mandates, you did not succeed in forming a government. If you don’t concede now, you know an irreversible situation could arise.”
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz has had to deny sending a representative to tell kingmaker Mansour Abbas not to endorse Lapid. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman denied a report he is vetoing Bennett.
With all this talk in the self-declared “change camp,” Netanyahu is undoubtedly listening in delight, while he remains silent.