Buzzwords that will stick with us from this election

“You Liar!”, an electric scooter and “where did you serve in the army?”: The utterances that will be remembered (at least until the next round)

Liar, son of a liar”, said Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) about Netanyahu, in a recording exposed by Michael Shemesh on Channel Kan 11. One would expect such an exposure to create a crisis, but it seemed like there could be very little that would create actual turmoil around elections in Israel. Instead of a crisis, we got rites of mutual forgiveness and heart emojis. Just Kidding. But there were plenty of such ass-kissing occasions before.

You can't have a scooter-rider drive a Mercedes”, said Benjamin Netanyahu about Yair Lapid as Prime Minister. Yet another election slander of the kind that we are so accustomed to. But this statement was also a window into Netanyahu's world. This is how he sees himself: As worthy of driving a luxury car, windows down low, all eyes on him. The scooter, on the other hand, a smart, environment friendly form of transportation that is appropriate for the changing world around us, that is being picked up by the younger generation (for example: people who work in high-tech, who can afford to live close to the office and not have the hassle of owning a private vehicle) — is perceived by Netayhau as an object of ridicule. The hidden, or not so hidden message is: He’s disconnected and outdated.

"It is more difficult to study Torah than it is to stand on the frontlines”, said the chairman of United Torah Judaism, Yitzhak Goldknopf. There is some background to this statement, which we already discussed: the threat of voters defecting towards Ben-Gvir. Goldknopf (which means golden button in Yiddish, BTW) tried desperately to instill a sense of pious pride in his voters. But unfortunately for him, the outcome was a divisive statement which further alienated secular Israelis from getting to know the intricacies and nuances of the Ultra-Orthodox community. And there is plenty to get to know. What a shame.

“I'm not leaving the race” and the photograph by Avishag Shaar-Yashov. Shaked repeatedly promised, quite sympathetically, that she will fight to the end. Then came the iconic photo by Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv: Framed as if it were a Rembrandt painting, Shaked is seen in profile, sitting alone at a table in an empty auditorium. Just her, her blank-stare posture, and her thoughts. It was not a picture worth a thousand words. It was a picture worth a heavily dense, 500 page novel.

“Where did you serve in the army?” A common ice-breaker between Israelis, this question addressed to Yair Lapid, now aged 59, says so much about the current electoral system and about Israeli society in general. Lapid's role in the military is documented and publicly known. All you have to do is go to Beit Ariela Library in Tel Aviv, or any other national archive for that matter, and see the articles he signed off on, as a reporter in the military newspaper “BaMahane”. But the FakeNews was already making rounds, intended to tickle our brains and make us doubt. And thus it goes from the seemingly innocent question “where did you serve in the army” to “we want to taint you for life”. The slander, the dissemination of doubts, and the emergence of a new genre of journalists whose entire careers are built on asking “I don't know, I was just asking a simple question here, he should answer it. Oh, he’s not providing an answer? Hmm, that’s suspicious”. All of these things don’t come about by chance. This is a political theory of sorts, part of an alarming global trend that should disturb all of us.