My 2nd Clerihew
*FORMER* Prime Minister Netanyahu Displays bravado like an arrogant yahoo. Though he believes he's both Likud and the State, His feet will never again cross home plate.
My 1st clerihew was also about Netanyahu, but now, like most of Israel, I am done with him
17 thoughts on “Benjamin, or: Bibi”
Interesting post and comments, David. 🙂 Time for Netanyahu to take up paint by number, play a little miniature golf, and watch sitcom reruns on TV. Thanks for entertaining me this afternoon! ❤
🤎 Cheryl 🤎
I just wish Bibi would do precisely that!
In my graduate school program I’ve been studying superfluous men. A superfluous man cannot act meaningfully for good or bad because, without a role, his actions don’t affect the rest of us. Long term unemployed people are like this, so are people who are excessively ugly or socially awkward, many refugees are like this and, most common of all, people who have been displaced by the march of technology.
In my study of superfluous men, there is a very strong tendency towards identity pride. This makes sense, since a person who cannot act meaningfully – in the utilitarian sense – is literally useless. Being useless is intolerable for most superfluous men so they denigrate action and declare themselves valuable by virtue of their race/religion/gender/etc.
Totalitarianism is the ultimate expression of the superfluous man’s escape from suffering. It uses “objective” measures like nose size, genealogy and one’s status as a “born proletariate” etc to determine “virtue.” Examples of this include Himmler determining the SS hierarchy entirely by looking at applicant photos, the Khmer Rouge promoting prison guards for having illiterate or criminal backgrounds, and the Soviet Union elevating officials for the virtue of having factory worker parents. Likewise, punishment is confined to the innocent in most cases. In Nazi Germany, Cambodia and the USSR, people who committed actual crimes were generally ineligible for extermination in the death camps because including real criminals would imply that actions matter, rather than keeping the focus on purely “objective” factors.
I mention all this because Netanyahu, in my observation, has seemed to cater excessively to the suffering and insecure members of his electorate, encouraging them to take pride in their blood and denigrating his enemies on their tainted blood rather than their actions.
I wonder if you think I’m barking up the wrong tree.
First off, thanks for your comment – this is quite interesting.
Secondly, I think there is some truth to your perspective, but I’d like to highlight some other points that I think are more salient, which you can apply your suggested definition to them if you think it is appropriate.
Here we go –
From my perspective, Netanyahu supporters are not necessarily “suffering”, BUT many of them are of lower socioeconomic status. However, that is not about Netanyahu, per se… it’s more about Israel’s right-wing, which is mostly not affluent.
Netanyahu is all about identity politics – in this case, it’s the “right-wing” versus “left-wing” identity card that he plays. The “right-wing” is strong, proud, successful, etc., and he, of course, epitomizes it. He always labels his opponents (even those that he appointed to office, such as the Attorney General, Chief of Police, etc.) as “left-wing”, as soon as they take any action against him.
He is associated with the country’s economic success of the last two decades, and people generally perceive him as the one who has created an environment in which they themselves have fewer barriers to economic success. However, he is not a social reformer, and he does not campaign on messages of “I will help the suffering” or “I will help the poor”.
So … I don’t think he emphasizes “blood”, per se. It’s true that he’s campaigned against “the Arabs”, but that’s less about “blood” and more about “security” because Israel is a very traumatized country, and its citizenry fears more war and doesn’t trust its Arab neighbors who fought against it in the past.
Does that help?
Interesting. Thanks. I’m not super up on Israeli politics so this is great information. There are a couple of things I noticed that might be fun to talk about.
“However, he is not a social reformer, and he does not campaign on messages of ‘I will help the suffering’ or ‘I will help the poor.'”
This is extremely easy for me to believe. So a little background. I was born solidly middle class and then spent my teens lower middle class before spending the years between 19 and 25 extremely poor, on the edge of homelessness a couple times. (In my case it was because a family member got into serious trouble with the IRS, dragging the rest of us along for the ride.)
When I was economically suffering, I did not want hand outs and I really, really didn’t want compassion. The thing is, it’s not actually that bad sleeping in the back of a car, figuring out how to avoid the gangsters or fishing used socks out of a dumpster. We are all more than capable of handling those types of minor discomfort.
What I wanted, more than anything, so desperately I could taste it, was to recover the social role and the respect that went with a social role I’d had earlier in my life. I didn’t want “reduced suffering,” I wanted an excuse to respect myself. This, I think, is not restricted to myself and, I strongly believe, explains why the left is so often dominated by the very rich and comfortable people it wants to tax while the right is so often the home of the people who theoretically benefit from leftish compassion.
I should explain that. There’s a difference between compassion – helping another with the expectation that the suffering person overcomes their suffering and develops into a useful member of the community – and pity – helping another with no expectation the suffering person will ever recover. Leftish compassion very often straddles the line and commonly tips into pity. Pity, in my experience, is utterly humiliating. There are few things more emasculating or soul-killing than accepting your own uselessness in exchange for food stamps.
So when Netanyahu pointedly does not extend compassion, he is extending a type of respect. “I expect you to help yourself. I do not feel sorry for you.” And like I said, the physical parts of being poor are much easier to endure than the humiliation.
In this context of the US, it explains why Trump GAINED popularity with every single demographic group whose lives got economically worse between 2016 and 2020. He didn’t try to take those suffering people’s pride.
“So … I don’t think he emphasizes “blood”, per se. It’s true that he’s campaigned against ‘the Arabs’, but that’s less about ‘blood’ and more about ‘security’ because Israel is a very traumatized country, and its citizenry fears more war and doesn’t trust its Arab neighbors who fought against it in the past.”
Hmm, a lot of the early Zionists in the 20s and 30s seemed to have thought conflict with the Arabs was a baked in feature of a Jewish homeland. As in, it was going to be the nature of the beast simply as a consequence of setting up an ethnic homeland. Were they mistaken?
I 100% agree with what you’ve described –
– both regarding humans in general, and Netanyahu’s and Trump’s followers in particular.
Regarding this –
I think there were different schools of thought among the early Zionists vis-à-vis the Arabs. Most hoped to live at peace with them, AFAIK… but, in terms of reality, I think you’re right that they knew (or learned quickly enough) that conflict was unavoidable with at least some Arabs. But – you should know that beyond what you see in the news these days, there are many mixed Jewish-Arab families, particularly in Northern Israel, and in the day-to-day, Jews and Arabs generally get along – for example, vendors at the Jerusalem market (the shuk) may disagree with one another, but, in terms of their interpersonal interactions, they can be good friends. Mind you, I’m talking now about Israeli citizens – this is not descriptive of the West Bank, which is a not a good situation… for anyone.
That’s good to hear about the citizens and Arabs. I hope it continues.
I hope it only gets better… BTW, politically, Netanyahu was more than willing to form a coalition with the Ra’am Arab party after the last round elections, and, ultimately, it joined the current coalition… which was historic… I hope that this new political reality has increased the likelihood that Arab parties may also join future coalitions.
Me too. I long thought that Israel would have to chose between being an ethnic state that defines itself based on blood ties and ancestry and being a “normal” state that defines itself territorially without regard to the ethnic characteristics of the people within that territory. I’m hopeful it ends up being the latter. 🙂
it’s such a touchy issue, Ben… would a state that’s not majority Jewish remain a safe haven for Jews? (a rhetorical question)
I have no idea!
You might enjoy this.
Cool; thank you❣️
Politics… its the same everywhere. (K)
I see that plenty surfeit oft,
And hasty climbers soonest fall;
I see that such as are aloft
Mishap doth threaten most of all.
These get with toil and keep with fear;
Such cares my mind can never bear. William Byrd
Seems that even Netanyahu has succumbed to the same delusions of grandeur that ex-pres Trump entertained.
That is largely why they’re talking about setting term limits for Prime Minister (we’ve never had any)… but it’s pretty clear that the Bibi of old became corrupt after more than a decade at the helm. It’s such a cliché, but it’s still so true.