Topics: Election

The Emperor’s New Clothes, Israel-Style

Netanyahu’s foes are so obsessed with toppling him that they can’t see how they’re dividing the nation.

Benny Gantz: Any Better Than Netanyahu?
Gili Yaari /Flash90

A few days ago, 11-year-old Noga Amit Mashiach posted to her mother’s Facebook page a video that quickly went viral. This clever kid, who aspires to one day become prime minister, follows the news like her peers follow reality television shows. Articulated and intelligent, Noga cries her heart out, asking our politicians to cease being combative and divisive. 

In the video, the young girls states that she would like our politicians to instead be “assertive, not aggressive, that they would speak in a way pleasant to people’s ears … no one likes to be hurt … no, this isn’t the way. I ask you to speak in a pleasant and soothing way … this is what makes people listen, be interested, but to speak hurtfully won’t impress anyone.”

Her latest video from Friday begins by stating, “Today, I’ll speak about a knife between the teeth.” In its Israeli context, this idiom refers to soldiers willing to do whatever it takes to complete the mission. Some Israeli politicians have been using the phrase in the course of the current campaign, signaling that they will do whatever it takes to win the upcoming election. To give but one example, Yair Lapid from the front-running “Blue and White Party” said months ago that “one needs a knife between the teeth to beat Netanyahu.” This combative attitude manifests in an aggressive and ad hominem election campaign that, as young Noga laments, is nothing but divisive.

Noga, moved to post the video after attending a Blue and White rally, says that interesting and enjoyable as the event was, she didn’t like the fact that some were calling for the party to be even more aggressive, “with a knife between the teeth and extracted claws.”

Following Noga’s simple, but moving message, that was addressed specifically to the Blue and White leadership, and to everyone else, as well, she met with the party’s leader, Benny Gantz, who commended her for “running an inspirational campaign.” Noga, he wrote on his Facebook page, is asking for modest things: “That her Prime Minister would not lie, that he would not despise the laws of the country she loves so much.”

Gantz’s embarrassing response to this bright child brings to mind Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, which takes aim at leaders who not only can’t see their own faults, but actually take pride in their naked vulnerability.

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