Kakistocracy, Israel edition

On a TV in a break room at work, I had the extremely dubious pleasure to see our new (mis)government sworn in.

Looking on the bright side, I will no longer have to look far for an example the next time somebody asks me what the word “kakistocracy” means.

Unlike in the US, it is not unusual for some professors and staff scientists at an Israeli university to be right-wing, a handful even pretty hardcore. I have never heard such wall-to-wall dismay as this time, even from people who not only voted for his party Likud but are card-carrying Likud members (and had voted for him in its primary). They blame him for giving the store away to his three coalition partners: a hard-right nationalist list that includes the truly rancid Itamar Ben-Gvir (said to use a picture of the posterior of Meir Kahane as a mezuzah), and two ultra-religious parties, one of them (Shas) led by a convicted felon (Aryeh Deri, who served a prison sentence for accepting bribes while serving as a minister), the other if anything even more obscurantist. The Likud itself, which accounts for half the total, “is getting the crumbs that fall off the table”.

Leaving aside Netanyahu’s egomania and living beyond his means, he is undeniably highly intelligent and one of the craftiest practical politicians ever in this country. Moreover, as far as I know his personal views, they are highly pragmatist (actually left of his own party’s center), secular-to-traditional, “live and let live” concerning alternative lifestyles, moderately hawkish yet conspicuously wary of armed conflict, and hardline pro-free market — all very hard to reconcile with the rhetoric of his coalition partners. So his willingness to sell out not only his country to “the worst [that] are full of passionate intensity”, but also his party and his own principles is dismaying. He may be hoping he can bury the most deranged demands in endless committees, play off coalition partners with conflicting demands against each other, and the like… but in order to keep this motley crew together, he may need to give in on some “proxy issues” that have little practical consequences but huge symbolic value (such as changing the Law of Return to exclude non-Orthodox converts) and thus risk irreparable harm to relations with the Jewish Diaspora.

With typical Israeli black humor, some are blaming “the First BDSM Mistress”, a.k.a. “sar ha-Netanyahu” (a Hebrew pun on her name meaning “minister of the Netanyahu”) who with the equally insufferable eldest son supposedly whipped a supposedly reluctant “Pipi Mezuyanhu” (another Hebrew pun meaning “screwed is he”) into becoming Prime Minister again at any price so he can maintain them “in the style to which they are accustomed”.

I will not deny it, dear reader: as an unapologetic Zionist and onetime Likud voter, I am only laughing because it hurts too much for cry.

Back in the day, the irreverent comedy show HaChartzufim had a parody on Naomi Shemer’s Al Kol Eile (“Of all these things” [bitter and sweet]) where the lyrics were changed to “Al ha-kotz ve-al ha-tachat” (of the thorn and the tushy) and downhill from there. [UPDATE: here (not safe for some workplaces).] I can’t find a video right now, so let me instead give the last word to Monty Python’s parody of “All Things Great And Small”:

All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The L-rd G-d made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom.
He made their horrid wings.

All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The L-rd G-d made them all.

Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid
Who made the spikey urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did!

All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The L-rd G-d made them all.


UPDATE: welcome Instapundit readers! A couple of clarifications for American readers:

• “right-wing” here doesn’t mean the same as it does in the US. The two most important “principal component axes” of our political spectrum are dovish vs. hawkish on the one hand, and secularist vs. religionist. Socialism vs. capitalism is a distant third, and correlates poorly with the two other axes. Some of the most hawkish elements in the Likud, for instance, want a social economy while its more dovish members may be neo-Thatcherites like Netanyahu. The ultra-religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism would prefer that Israel become at least soft-theocratic (and hence qualify as hard-right on the ‘synagogue-state relations’ axis) but tend to be more moderate on territorial issues, and favor socialist state handouts to their sector at the expense of the taxpayer — hardly an economically conservative policy. Meanwhile, the neo-Kahanists want to annex everything in sight and dream aloud of tampering with the citizenship of Israeli Arabs (ugh), and thus definitely qualify as extreme rightist on that axis — but again, want their pet causes and constituencies bankrolled by the state. (They are somewhat more moderate on religion-state issues.)

For contrast, some of our most pro-free market parties tend to be dovish or moderate on territorial issues, and secularist to aggressively so. To a large extent, these positions reflect the demographics of their voters (as, in a different way, do those of the others mentioned above).

  • do not see nonexistent parallels between Trump and Netanyahu. The latter is already our longest-serving PM in history (having surpassed the previous record holder, Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion). In a system with term limits for the PM (like the US has for its unitary executive), Bibi would have been forced into retirement a while ago.
  • Also, our electoral system is basically tamper-proof (no voting without ID card and personalized voter’s summons, no absentee voting at all,…) — the big problem here, as in any proportional representation system, is cobbling together a workable coalition that commands a stable parliamentary majority.
  • See also my previous post on the electoral results and what they mean, and on how Netanyahu alienated his former and natural allies by pulling dirty tricks on them, one after the other. (More here and here).

UPDATE 2: via the Times of Israel, here is an op-ed by Bezalel Smotrich, the new finance minister, in the WSJ. (Paywalled original; cached copy.)

The U.S. media has vilified me and the traditionalist bloc to which I belong since our success in Israel’s November elections. They say I am a right-wing extremist and that our bloc will usher in a “halachic state” in which Jewish law governs. In reality, we seek to strengthen every citizen’s freedoms and the country’s democratic institutions, bringing Israel more closely in line with the liberal American model.[…]

This op-ed is worth reading in its entirely, if only to see what image he is trying to project. The TOI speculates that this article was written at Netanyahu’s instigation, in an attempt to assuage concerns on the part of Republican and Independent Israel supporters in the US. I do know from well-informed sources that there is little love lost between Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, and in fact the two factions Religious Zionism (Smotrich) and Otzma Yehudit (Ben-Gvir) split up shortly after the elections, where they had run a joint list to avoid “wasting votes” in our Bader-Ofer seat allocation system. (a.k.a, D’Hondt system, a.k.a. Jefferson method).

3 thoughts on “Kakistocracy, Israel edition

  1. Moronic leftoxenomorph Israelis are closer to a 2nd Holocaust than they think.

    Israel ought to annex Judea and Samaria, expel all the stinking pisslim dogs from its territory, build up its armed forces to double their current size, nuke iran into a glass parking lot, exterminate feminazism from its territory and get on with the business of building a great country FOR JEWS ONLY.

    Instead leftoxenomorphs Israelis will end up doing the opposite and the 2nd Holocaust will become a reality and Israel just a memory.

    And you never voted Likud. You are just a leftoxenomorph.

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