Israel is riven with problems, but the prime minister has created a ‘happy’ nation by getting voters to accept their lot
I work in the Israeli industry of melancholy, and I didn’t even know it. Luckily, over a year ago the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu boldly exposed this enterprise and helped me and my coworkers realise that we are part of it. In several scoffing speeches and a memorable photograph – in which he was beaming like only truly happy people do, his left arm resting on a can of pickles, which in Hebrew denotes “sourpusses” – Bibi saw through us, and showed us for the whiners that we are. Now, with elections looming, even a taxi ride reflects his insight: “Look at the traffic to the airport, at the bustling cafes,” my driver told me. “Life is good, Bibi is great, what are you leftists complaining about all the time?” My response could only betray that I am, indeed, a kvetch.
Discarding such relics as a political platform, under Netanyahu the Likud’s party line is “party time”, while centre-left contenders try to fathom how to urge voters to opt for real change without saying things are really bad. And, in a way, they are. Even without Israel’s 50-year occupation and retreating democracy, security concerns, social rifts, struggling health and transportation systems and the high cost of living make Netanyahu’s plea for glee look incongruous.