Oded Revivi
Oded ReviviMiriam Tzachi

The election results, even if not yet declared final by the Board of Elections, teach something about Israeli public life and the political conflict within it.

The "Just not Bibi" camp extended its platform once it was in charge and changed its objectives to include a battle against the relation between religion and state, nationalist feelings, and family values. It lowered the level of personal security and inflicted systematic damage to the settlement enterprise - and more.

When these objectives were translated into actions, the mistreated, crushed and trampled side united and invested much more than before in order to put an end to that blatant humiliation. The outgoing government, constantly praising its own democracy and liberalism, was actually one that classified anyone supporting Netanyahu as deplorable and primitive.

If we take the endless poisonous diatribes against Netanyahu such as Meretz MK Yair Golan saying that "we have to save Israel from the cancerous growth called Netanyahu" or Yesh Atid 'MK Ram Ben Barak's historical explanation that "Hitler was also elected through a democratic process", we might draw the conclusion that the struggle is limited to hating Netanyahu. Even National Unity Party head Benny Gantz once said that "if there is going to be a 61 seat Netanyahu government, you can turn to me for an interview summing up the end of the country," drawing the same conclusion again and again.

In no time, it became clear that the "Just not Bibi" camp believed in additional concepts that trampled large groups within Israeli society. "Likud voters are a polluted river" said outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid in a February 2020 television interview and in a flash clarified to over a million Likud voters what his opinion of them is. After this kind of inflammatory statement it is hard to be the Prime Minister of everyone. In the recent election campaign, the Yesh Atid party made sure to label the Likud "a Sephardic party" as if being of Sephardic background is a pejorative in 2022 Israel.

"Let's put the haredim and Bibi in one wheelbarrow and push them to a good garbage dump." This horrific expression with its terrible connotations was said by the head of Yisrael Beytenu, Avigdor Liberman, and despite his saying this, he became the Finance Minister of the Bennett-Lapid government. How were haredi citizens supposed to feel about that? Funding is controlled by someone who thinks they belong in the garbage dump! By connecting the haredim to Bibi, Liberman proved that hating Netanyahu is not the only issue, so is bottomless hatred for haredim.

In an interview for a sectoral website, Adv. Batya Cahana Dror, 8th on the Yisrael Beytenu list of candidates, said that "the haredim are a burden."

Let's tell it like it is: The outgoing government of the Jewish State included a party which used classic anti-Semitic tropes against a large and important group in Israeli society, but was never called to account. The use of these expressions, whose source is the blackest period in our history, reached a climax when Netanyahu was compared to Goebbels and Stalin. The expression "Netanyahu and his friends are parasites and we won't join up with haredim" said by the Finance Minister, was not subjected to the criticism it deserved from the other members of the coalition. This silence in the face of these extreme words and the creation of an atmosphere that haredim are "untouchables" because of their way of life allows us to conclude that haredi-hatred was fertile ground for cultivating the outgoing government's election loss.

If we take a moment to list the accomplishments of Nitzan Horowitz, Minister of Health and former head of the Meretz party, we will find only three. None of them concerns Netanyahu or public health. The first is the cancellation of the LGBT questionnaire on the subject of donating blood. The second is making conversion therapy illegal, even if requested by the person involved. The third is including funding for gender change in the government funded medications instead of lifesaving medicines. As head of a municipal council, a father and a human being, it is important to me to have a fair, open and tolerant attitude to the LGBT community, without any discrimination. But Horowitz did things defiantly, coercively and with as much publicity as possible.

Even when it came to the issue of Chametz on Passover in hospitals, he made sure to deal with it with venom. He and Merav Michaeli, head of the Labor party, created the feeling among many that the nuclear family consisting of a mother and father is not the norm anymore and is somehow reprehensible. There is certainly room for improving things and avoiding discrimination of any kind, but Horowitz was supposed to be the Health Minister and instead became solely the LGBT minister who missed the opportunity to expand medical care and enlarge governmental medication coverage for a public which only wanted funding for another MRI. Suddenly, anyone who disagreed with his worldview became a primitive enemy even if he was not part of the Netanyahu camp. The entire idea of a traditional family was threatened..

The Transport Minister's attempt to hurt the settlement enterprise and the Shabbat upset those who were willing to accept a government not headed by Netanyahu, but that government simply ignored their existence. One of the leaders in Judea and Samaria actually supported the "Government of Change" but the de facto freeze on any progress, the lack of response to any requests and the elimination of the regular talks between the settlement leaders and the government brought him to despair and the abandonment of his efforts. Those residents of Judea and Samaria who did not vote for Bibi also felt unwanted by this government.

The opinion held by parts of the opposing camp on the importance of Shabbat and Chametz, Torah study, the inclusion of haredim and the role of secular education, on settlements and improving the roads to them – none of this has anything to do with Bibi, but they suddenly became not legitimate concerns. At least in the eyes of the Lapid government. When these other voices were heard and their pain rose to the surface, the heads of the government announced that those protesting are primitive, dangerous parasites and nebbishes.

That is why all those who were marked as outsiders by this government went to the ballot box and voted in another government. They voted that way because their voices had been choked off by a soundproof barrier. The quotes brought here are not those emanating from a lighthouse of democracy but the silencing of anyone who does not toe the government line. We can only hope that the new government will learn, hate less, listen more, respect a different opinion without seeing it as primitive and dangerous, remember that sometimes there are wise people with opposing opinions in the opposition – and that this state of affairs is just fine.


Oded Revivi is a lawyer who is the mayor of Efrat, Gush Etzion.