Netanyahu's incitement is an invitation to murder - opinion

What Netanyahu is doing in all practicality is a call to return to the incitement that led to the murder of Yitzhak Rabin.

LIKUD SUPPORTERS protest during outside the home of Yamina Party No. 2, parliament member Ayelet Shaked’s Tel Aviv home last month, after Yamina announced that it would go into a unity government with Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
LIKUD SUPPORTERS protest during outside the home of Yamina Party No. 2, parliament member Ayelet Shaked’s Tel Aviv home last month, after Yamina announced that it would go into a unity government with Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
In the next few days, a new government will be formed in Israel. Finally. More than two years after the April 2019 election took place, it appears that we have reached a point where it is no longer possible to drag nine million of the country’s citizens through more chaos and turmoil, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has forced upon us in an effort to try to escape from dealing with the impending indictments that have been filed against him.
During these two years, the public discourse in the State of Israel has become much more polarized. As Netanyahu’s chances of forming a government have diminished, the messages he and his supporters have been voicing in an effort to delegitimize his political opponents have increased.
Public criticism is the lifeblood of any democratic society. No one can be protected from this type of criticism. Not the government, nor those that oppose it. It is perfectly permissible – and oftentimes even necessary – to raise a voice against the actions taken by a government, and certainly when they are exceptionally unreasonable. It is equally acceptable, and perhaps even legitimate, to criticize anyone who expresses opposition to a government.
The Israeli government did not invent argumentative, emotional and boisterous debate. It is also common in the US, the UK and all western democracies we aim to resemble, or at least from which to receive support.
In no country are people who oppose their government considered traitors. In no country do people who oppose the government are considered to wish for the destruction of their country. Except, that is, in Israel. According to our prime minister, the opposition is the Left. Left, as defined by Israel’s prime minister, is a group of traitors. Until recently, the Arab parties, which receive public support, and which fulfill all the necessary requirements for loyalty to the state and its laws, were in favor (according to Netanyahu) of the destruction of the State of Israel. And in addition, anyone who chooses to join forces with the Arabs, would then also wish for the destruction of Israel.
Later on, for a short period of time, Netanyahu believed that he might be able to incorporate the Muslim Arab list, led by Mansour Abbas, as a partner, or at least a supporter of a government with Netanyahu at its head. At the same time that Netanyahu was engaging in negotiations with Abbas, it began to appear as if the joining of the Arab party was becoming a legitimate option that met all the requirements for loyalty to the country according to the rules as defined by Netanyahu. However, when it became clear that Abbas actually preferred joining Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar, together with Yair Lapid and the rest of the “change” coalition, cooperation with Abbas went back to being traitorous and disloyal to the state.
This pattern of divisive incitement and besmirching people’s loyalty to the state did not begin in the last two years. Netanyahu’s been doing this for the last 25 years, ever since his first run for the prime ministership.
BIBI WAS the staunchest instigator of incitement against Yitzhak Rabin. I’ve said in the past that to the best of my judgment, at the time, it never occurred to Netanyahu that his incitement could contribute to the horrific events that transpired and led to Rabin’s assassination. Netanyahu didn’t worry about the ramifications of his incitement.
However, he encouraged the extremists and gave them legitimacy. He participated in events in which Rabin was presented as a person who was simply betraying his country and whose actions could lead to its destruction. Netanyahu’s inciting voice was one of the central factors that added to an atmosphere that led to three bullets being fired from the gun of a despicable murderer.
Netanyahu will no longer be able to use the same defense he used last time. Then, he could get away with arguing – and we could believe it – that he didn’t think that portraying Yitzhak Rabin in a Nazi SS uniform could encourage people to murder him. But that’s what happened.
It leads to bloodshed. Whoever says that the leaders of the new coalition that is expected to be formed, should be treated like the spies who were sent by Moses to tour the Land of Israel, and who returned and reported evil slander – is calling for bloodshed. Whoever says to the people who have been incited, who have heard Netanyahu say that it’s acceptable to “lay into the press,” is relaxing the restraints, and after that it is very difficult to set new boundaries.
A few weeks ago, I wrote in my column that what Bibi needs is a terrorist attack that could present the appearance of an extreme state of emergency, which would justify national unity that would block the path to forming a government that is different than the one he intends to form.
The IDF, of course, was obliged to respond to Hamas rocket fire on Israeli communities with a sharp and unequivocal response. Israel has the capability to do so, and at the end of the day, the IDF wounded Hamas with proportional force.
But the fire that led to this predicament, which escalated into 11 days of unnecessary combat was lit not only by Hamas. Even before the violence erupted, I said that Bibi wants such a situation, since he is the one holding the match that could light the fire, and it would be his emissaries, headed by Itamar Ben-Gvir and his feral Lehava gang, who will set the area on fire. I did not exaggerate. That’s exactly what happened.
Of course, in the end we are always right, because we can not chose not to retaliate when Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv come under rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. And yet, to be right in this situation is a pretense that cannot hide the fact that the primary contribution to the provocation was inspired by the prime minister and led by his emissaries and supporters.
What can we do to prevent this deterioration from evolving right before our eyes? We must take drastic measures against the instigators and the rioters. We cannot just sit back and wait for another incident to unfold, after which everything will deteriorate. We need to take immediate action.
Head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Nadav Argaman, issued an unusual and atypical warning. When this man issues such a stern warning, as he did a few days ago, he’s not inventing the danger. He’s not fabricating a story. He knows exactly what he’s talking about, and especially what and who he’s warning us against.
It’s still not enough. The police must act to prevent marches and block the path of the provocateurs who want to light Jerusalem on fire, which could quickly spread to an exchange of rocket fire on Israeli cities.
It’s clear that we must in no way succumb to Hamas’s threats and put up with their attempt to harm Israeli citizens. But we also have a duty to not egg them on and drag them into a situation in which we will be right, and both they and us will end up bleeding, hurting and frightened.
And so, we must warn the prime minister, the great instigator. Now, before these things happen.
What you, Netanyahu, are saying is an invitation to murder. Nothing less. The victim could be one of the leaders or MKs of the new coalition, Jewish or Arab, or a member of one of their families. This murder could create a vortex that will change the impending political sentence.
Netanyahu – you won’t be able to say you weren’t warned. What you do in the coming days in all practicality is a call to return to the incitement that led to the murder of Yitzhak Rabin.
The people of Israel do not forget and will not forgive.