The head of Israel's internal security service said that "extremely violent and inciting discourse" targeting the lawmakers who are seeking to end Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as prime minister could take a potentially lethal form — a grim echo of the warnings ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Shin Bet chief Nadav Argeman said Saturday that the spike in vitriol targeting Netanyahu’s opponents online and in public demonstrations “may be interpreted by certain groups or individuals as one that allows for violent and illegal activities that may even, God forbid, become lethal.”
He called on public officials to rein in the groups that have vowed to do “anything possible” to prevent the swearing in of a new power-sharing government that has been spearheaded by centrist politician Yair Lapid.
Netanyahu has said he condemns any incitement and violence, but he said at a meeting with his Likud party on Sunday that “incitement against us is also raging.” He called on lawmakers to vote against the formation of the “fraudulent” alternative government.
“Mr. Netanyahu, don’t leave scorched earth behind you,” Naftali Bennett, the right-wing religious nationalist politician who is poised to unseat him, said Sunday. “We, the entire nation, want to remember the good that you did in your service for the country.”
The new government, in which Bennett is to serve as prime minister for two years before handing the job off to Lapid, is expected to come to a vote in the Knesset this week. It’s composed of eight ideologically divergent political parties, including leftists, centrists, former right-wing Netanyahu allies, and, for the first time in Israel’s history, Arab-Islamists.
“With his brother-in-arms Trump out-of-power, consumed by incoherent ranting and mumbling in Mar-a-Lago about how the election was stolen from him by Democrats and the media, Netanyahu has one last page to copy from Trump’s playbook: creating his own ‘January 6,’” Alon Pinkas wrote in the left-leaning daily Haaretz. “As a result of incitement and disinformation, judges, prosecutors and now also the leaders of the opposition are receiving extra protection after Netanyahu’s cultlike supporters threatened their lives.”
After the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol left five dead and more than 140 people injured, Netanyahu said he would leave office if voted out of power. He called the storming of the Capitol by thousands of pro-Trump supporters “disgraceful” and “the stark opposite of the values that Americans and Israelis uphold.” In the following days, Netanyahu removed a picture of him with Donald Trump from his Twitter banner. He continued to boast of policy achievements such as the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem that took place during the Trump presidency.
But since Lapid’s “change coalition” announced last week they were able to achieve a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu has launched a fierce, multi-fronted campaign to keep the it from assuming power. He has uploaded social media posts including old videos of Bennett and his partners pledging to never allow Lapid to become prime minister and called on right-wing lawmakers “to oppose this dangerous, left-wing government.”
Needless to say, things could quite possibly go as bad as things did here in the US on January 6th. The real problem is that there's entirely reason to believe that things could go much, much worse. I have a bad feeling about all this, so keep a weather eye on things in Tel Aviv.