Simple question: Who are the athletes and athletic teams with the most fans?
Is it soccer player Leo Messi (and his teams Barcelona/PSG/Argentina)?
Is it basketball player Michael Jordan (and the Chicago Bulls)?
Swimmer Michael Phelps?
Sprinter Usain Bolt?
Let’s just say yes to all.
Ask yourself please…
Because they are winners. Because they are champions. Because they are victorious, and we want to identify with them. Ideally they should be role models and come from behind, like “underdogs.” But in any case humans prefer to root for the team or individual that will eventually overcome and be victorious, all other things being basically equal.
Now what does that have to do with Israel?
Well, Israelis want to win, especially after having lost for so long in the exile, to put it lightly. They want to survive. They want to live. They would prefer to do so with squeaky clean, perfectly moral leaders. But if none are on the playing field at the moment, the majority are sticking with the team they feel can defend against the enemy. And the enemies threatening from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria end up doing a terrific job of keeping this innate survival instinct felt with a visceral immediacy by a clear majority of Israeli Jews.
That’s the most basic reason, in my opinion, that Benjamin Netanyahu and Itamar Ben-Gvir are now leading the nation, despite neither being squeaky clean. The average Israeli wants to know that the strongest “player” out there is gonna have the “ball” in the clutch moments, wants to know that our leaders “have our backs.”
Many kind-hearted individuals in kinder, gentler “neighborhoods” do not “get this.” Their conscience longs for a New Testament-degree of righteousness and purity, even from politicians. However, when one’s back is up against a wall, the survival instinct often speaks louder than whispers of conscience.
So while I am nervous about this government’s next steps, I do understand why they got elected.
The desire to be led by a champion, for better or for worse, also appears in the Bible.
“May the Lord… appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in…” (Numbers 27:16-17 NIV, with a connotation of military campaigns)
“Nay, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” (I Samuel 8:20 ASV)
“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.” (Jeremiah 20:11 NIV)
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