22 March '15..
You should have seen them, the representatives of the media, on the sets of their respective channels. Most were hoping to announce some of the best news of their careers: the fall of the hawk, Benjamin Netanyahu. With the exit polls, showing a tie between Likud and the Zionist Union, some faces started changing color. They had desperately fought for an unlikely coalition chaired by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, but as the hours passed, the real results confirmed the victory of the right against all odds, especially the ones given it by the media. And the comments became contemptuous, aggressive, sometimes outrageous, especially on Channels 2 and 10, which had given so much in service of the sacred cause.
The sky had suddenly fallen on a whole microcosm mobilized to bring down Netanyahu: the (secretly funded) army of the V-15 organization, the cast of retired generals, artists and media circles, in short, all those who thought they were in tune with "the people", or worse, their legitimate representatives. But the people taught them a lesson, to the point that Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy echoed Yossi Sarid’s famous reaction after the reelection of Menachem Begin in 1981: "We must change the people." This kind of thinking can only come from leftists. History is rife with examples of how the exclusive champions of tolerance, law, democracy, equality and justice are often those who react unscrupulously when these values collide with their political ideology or interests of the moment.
Democracy is the will of the people. It is not divided. It is not admirable when you win and detestable when you lose. The people are not wise and lucid when they vote according to your wishes and suddenly stupid or suicidal when they don’t follow your direction. A writer who spoke at a left-wing rally three weeks ago refused to comment on Netanyahu’s victory. But before he hung up on the journalist who asked him for his reaction, he just said: "I have nothing to say to a people who chose to commit suicide." A university professor wrote on his Facebook page that "voting right was a sign of a mental disability". An Israeli actress called Netanyahu’s voters "Neanderthals" and advised them to commit suicide "because only death would save them from themselves." And this campaign reached downright surrealism on social networks when leftist voters, disappointed with the result, urged people to stop giving money to charities. The reason? Netanyahu achieved impressive results among less well-off Israelis - meaning that the disadvantaged do not live so badly since they re-elected Netanyahu.
He was not re-appointed by a coup or by dictatorship-style election fraud. He managed to mobilize voters in the final days of the campaign because he showed them how real democracy had been diverted from its original meaning. Yes, there was foreign intervention, including financial intervention, to bring him down. Yes, Arab voters were mobilized by non-governmental organizations to strengthen the left and create a blocking force against Netanyahu; yes there was an unprecedented media campaign to destroy his image and that of his wife and to delegitimize him.
But ultimately, it is the people who had the last word. Not the expectations of the elite, the European Union or President Obama. There are fictitious people in Israel and real people. It is the latter, who are too often ignored, despised and misunderstood, who won.
One can express the disappointment or pain of losing. But no one has the right to brand an elected government as illegitimate because it is center-right and right, or to insult the voters who chose it. I am not speaking of Internet users who are sometimes excessive on both sides of the political landscape. But when it comes to public officials, opinion leaders, intellectuals ....
The reaction of the Obama Administration is symptomatic. Does it punish Israel for not having voted as Barack Obama and John Kerry wished? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set the record straight during the campaign: no to a Palestinian state. The million Israelis who voted Likud made an informed decision. Should they be punished for this? The catastrophic consequences of the establishment of a terrorist state would be suffered by the inhabitants of Israel, not by those of the White House and State Department.
There is unhealthy condescension among some of the Israeli left, as well as at the White House and in Western Europe, toward the real Israeli people, which is to say, "We know better than you what is good for you."
But ordinary citizens often have more common sense and lucidity than elites. They proved it last Tuesday.
Shraga Blum is an independent journalist. He publishes a weekly press review in the "P'tit Hebdo" and political analysis on Israeli-French language sites.