Last Tuesday I had the chance to meet an old friend, a senior figure in the Israeli advertising world. Throughout our years of friendship, there has never been any concern that he and I share common opinions. We're not from the same village, we didn't eat from the same masting, we didn't go to the same high school, and we didn't attend the same synagogue.
Still, despite our ideological differences, we always knew how to find a common bridge to walk. This wasn't even accompanied by too much hard work. It was simply a natural connection between two Israelis, who did not let their political opinions affect the warm relations between them.
But it seems that this natural bridge, between me and my advertising friend, has collapsed. Last Tuesday, there was no more politeness and mutual respect in our meeting, but a foreign fire of hatred. I will spare you the nastiness and curses with which my old friend acquitted me, who at once became a man who not only dislikes my opinions, but also my very existence. It was one of the hardest encounters I have ever experienced.
I am not bringing up this personal story here in order to portray myself as a victim. I have never been a victim and never will be. Nor is there any danger that I will change my opinions under pressure and curses. I mention this because more and more Israelis find themselves in such encounters and are answered with the cold shoulder by those who were their friends in the past.
Even those who do not have a similar personal experience see the poisonous scenes emanating from organizations, personalities and senior politicians that fan hatred. Perhaps in the future sociologists and historians will try to decipher this phenomenon and analyze the age of hatred in which we live these days. While the subject of this column is political, this hatred is also the product of a cold and calculated political process involving the interests of stakeholders.
Causes of the rift
This week we published statements made by one of the instigators of the current political rift, Gilad Sher. He is a close associate of the protest campaign general, Ehud Barak. Sher discovered that the wave of demonstrations against the legal reform was conceived, created, and funded even before the establishment of the right-wing government. Alongside Sher are personalities such as Orni Petrushka and Yossi Kochik, who have ties with former Prime Minister Barak.
Ehud Barak. Planned protest, photo: Gideon Markowitz
It is not surprising that even before the phrase "regime coup" and other slogans that change on a weekly basis have come into existence, it has already been decided in private rooms that "the tools have been broken." The current protest is a continuation of a political strategy that began during Barak's rule, designed to sow as much hatred as possible towards the right, demonize it, make the people miserable in order to oust it from power – and replace it with more "moderate," "enlightened" and "contributing" elements.
The move also has political goals, chief among them the hope of breathing life into the corpse known as the two-state solution, which most of the public opposes. This idea has a dual goal: to achieve a political agreement that will continue the Oslo catastrophe and the failed attempt by Barak and Arafat to end the Camp David summit, while at the same time striking at the hated settler public.
Another goal is to regain control of the country. The self-appointed landlords watch with eager eyes as the "ignorant masses" refuse to accept their authority at the ballot box, and what remains is a policy of "divide and rule": hatred of the ultra-Orthodox, the rightists, the knitted people, the periphery - all this is just the excuse, the advertising act that is supposed to serve this purpose.
This strategy has borne fruit in the past. Once by crowning Barak as prime minister on waves of haredi hatred, and the second time by crowning Bennett with the argument that he is facing a poison machine, which the silent majority wants to eradicate.
The concluding move of this strategy is to whitewash those against whom similar campaigns were waged in the not-too-distant past, provided that he disobeys the authority of the landlords and sings their songs. Because hatred, like love, depends on it. Thus, personalities such as Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Gideon Sa'ar, Ruby Rivlin, Yvette Lieberman, Boogie Ya'alon and others are suddenly forgiven and transformed from fascist monsters into white pigeons, from objects of fiery hatred to heroes who save Israeli society from the clutches of darkness.
The campaign's presenters are familiar. In addition to Commander Ehud Barak, one can count former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and former head of the Israeli Bar Association Avi Himi, who conducted the campaign of hostility outside the Knesset and called for refusal and rebellion, while flirting with concepts such as civil war.
Lieberman. Became a hero, photo: Oren Ben Hakon
They are joined by elements within the political system, such as Benny Gantz, who promises to "shake the country" if the terms of his surrender are not accepted, and of course Yair Lapid, who has been busy pouring oil on the fire of division and polarization since the election results were announced.
The current campaign is just another stage in a campaign that has been going on for years and is taking shape. Once it is hatred of Netanyahu, sometimes the ultra-Orthodox are to blame, sometimes the settlers are the target or members of religious Zionism and their hidden intentions to impose religion on the State of Israel.
This is a battle in which no prisoners are taken, in which there is no room for different opinions and tolerance towards friends. Friends are only in Egged, and don't call those who are different from us brothers. "We are thou, mother of our troubles" is the message that dominates the dome, and if the black, transparent or knitted dome is not under our control, it is covered with catapults and arrows of hatred.
The rules of the game are clear, so are the characters. From my friend the poisoned advertiser, through Gilad Sher and his gang to the tip of the pyramid Ehud Barak. Only they will determine the boundaries of the sector, what is permitted and what is forbidden, who is a colleague and who is a predator, who deserves to be inside the fence and who will be thrown beyond it.
This is a political battle for the identity and soul of the State of Israel. The Barak camp's political weapon is hatred, and it has no inhibitions or boundaries or fear of labeling domestic enemies. And if they don't succeed this time, trust them to go to the next round, armed with the same arsenal and in their hearts the joy of hatred.
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