September 27, 2023
on November 1

Benjamin Netanyahu needs you to forget everything you know about him. Every bit of how it felt to have him running your life. Everything you’ve learned from a wealth of bitter experience. He needs you to forget every good reason you came to hate his guts on November 1.

Netanyahu needs you to forget all he offers is racist incitement, Jewish terror-affirming allies, war with U.S. Jews and eternal occupation. All you need to do is remember.

He’s betting his last political life on it. He’s betting he can get you to stay home and not cast your vote against him on November 1.

If, after everything he’s done, you’re still one of those who adore him, believe him when he lies jump when he says jump, hate when he says hate, you can stop reading now. This is not for you.

Because Bibi doesn’t need the people who will vote for him come hell or high water. Nor those who will surely vote for his ultra-Orthodox allies because their rebbe instructed them to – even after Netanyahu, haughty and brazen as ever, attempted to evade his clear responsibility for the horrific deaths of 45 Haredim in last year’s Mount Meron disaster.

Nor those who will vote like rabid dogs for Bibi’s racist, supremacist, Jewish terror-affirming allies, who aim to take over the country in due course. For those Itamar Ben-Gvir fans, voting to destroy democracy is nearly as much of a high as chasing down and spitting at or beating or stoning innocent non-Jews and leftists.

No. It’s you that Bibi needs. The embittered, the unsure, the exhausted. To take the day off, to stay away from voting. To put him over the top on.

Bibi, for his part, never forgets. The roots of his current campaign – and the Ben-Gvir factor – can be traced to his first, the one which thrust him to power as the Likud’s no-chance boy wonder underdog in 1996.

What Bibi knows is that his margin of victory then was less than one percent. He became prime minister because large numbers of left and center voters chose not to vote. Bibi needs you to forget the image of him campaigning on the balcony above Jerusalem’s Zion Square, bare weeks before the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, as waves of far-right demonstrators threatened the then-prime minister with violence.

He needs you, no less, to forget the image of the 19-year-old Kahane-besotted Itamar Ben-Gvir, newly Orthodox, newly proto-fascist, holding aloft a hood ornament wrenched from the prime minister’s car, the Cadillac which, a few weeks later, would rush the dying prime minister from a Tel Aviv peace rally to the basement emergency room of Ichilov Hospital.

“We got to his car,” Ben-Gvir crowed on national television, flourishing the Cadillac badge like a trophy head on a spike. “And we’ll get to him too.”

Just last week, Netanyahu invited Ben-Gvir to his Mar-a-Lago-On-the-Mediterranean home in Caesarea, promising his protégé and electoral secret weapon a ministerial position and a place at the cabinet table in Bibi’s imminent Likud-led government.

This week, a poll by Israel’s 103FM Radio indicated that Ben-Gvir’s leverage over Bibi had already increased, with his party’s share of the prospective coalition up to 12 seats, versus a brittle 32 for the Likud.

Bibi would surely like you to forget the poll’s other finding: that 64 percent of Israelis responding are in favor of Ben-Gvir’s proposal for a “Expulsion Law” which would allow the deportation of anyone (read Palestinians, Arab Israeli legislators and other dissenters) deemed insufficiently loyal towards the state or the IDF.

Bibi never forgets. Here is a man who has not won an Israeli election outright since 2015, falling short four times since. He remembers that election as well.

Desperate, behind in the polls, his right-wing followers tired of him and planning to hit the beach rather than vote, incumbent Netanyahu violated campaign laws in mounting an election-day social media racism blitz, direly warning from his desk in the prime minister’s office that “The rule of the right is in danger. The Arab voters are galloping in droves toward the ballot boxes. The NGOs of the left are bringing them in buses.”

This time around, Bibi – desperate to stave off his multiple criminal prosecutions and his many power-starved rivals for the leadership of the Likud – wants you to forget that all that he has left to offer is racist incitement and destructive tribalism and eternal occupation over Palestinians.

If you’re a non-Jew or the wrong kind of Jew (not Orthodox, not right-wing), or you just don’t want him anymore, Bibi wants you to forget that you could ever feel that you belong here, that you could ever again have a voice here, be anything other than shunned here.

On election day 2022, Bibi needs you to forget, as well, that he was prime minister for most of the last quarter-century, and was responsible for the withering of public education, health care, social welfare, and infrastructure within the 1967 Green Line border. How he ignored the needs of Holocaust survivors, domestic violence survivors, and PTSD sufferers, among many, many others.

In short, he needs you to give up on November 1.

He needs for you to forget about hope. He needs for you to feel alienated, cut off, unable to change a thing, move any needle, do anything about what Netanyahu himself turned into a failed country.

He needs you to forget that he, more than any other individual, is responsible for having enshrined as permanent the profound moral, military, and human catastrophe that was, and is, the occupation.

Netanyahu’s betting on you for November 1. That you’ll forget that he’s done more to harm Israel and to cripple its future and cut itself off from its allies and destroy its relationship with diaspora Jewry than anyone else in the last quarter-century.

Put him out of our misery. Find a party who will pledge to shun him in any future election. It won’t be ideal. But every vote against Netanyahu is also a vote against his detestable new boy toy Itamar Ben-Gvir. It’s going to be close. Every single vote matters. Your vote will be huge on November 1.

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