As a marketer the incongruence of the way Israel’s media presents Naftali Bennett stands out like an enormous red flag. There is a deliberate pattern that is impossible to ignore – and it crosses over from the news to entertainment shows.
Either they ignore him or they mock him mercilessly.
The question is, why?
On the news Bennett’s activities are rarely covered. When interviewed, supposed “objective journalists” interrupt and belittle with snide comments, doing their best to prevent him from presenting his ideas.
The popular satire show, Eretz Nehederet, created a Bennett caricature that is weak and whiny. The creators crafted an image that wants to “play with the big boys” but doesn’t succeed. In addition to this defamation of character, they also mock his sincerity, intelligence and even his faith.
The correlation between the image that is portrayed and reality is tenuous at best – when it is not a 180 degree inversion of the truth.
A quick look at Bennett’s resume makes it crystal clear that there is no place for the word “weakness” in any sentence describing the man.
Major (res.) Bennett served in Sayeret Matkal, the pinnacle of Israel’s IDF Special Forces and as a squad commander and company commander in the elite Maglan commando unit. Those who serve in these units are a rare breed. They endure hardships average people have difficulty imagining and participate in breathtaking acts of bravery – in quiet confidence, for the safekeeping of our nation.
Whether or not one agrees with the opinions of the man, there is no denying service already given or sacrifices made – long before he stepped into the political arena.
Further consideration of Bennett’s bio reveals that he has been at the “big boy’s table” for years. Unlike other candidates who have absolutely no experience in government (including Benny Gantz who is running for Prime Minister), Bennett has held numerous Ministerial positions: Minister of Economy, Minister of Religious Services, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Minister of Education and most recently, Minister of Defense.
As a member of Cabinet and now as Minister of Defense his responsibility for Israel’s security is second only to that of the Prime Minister.
This leads back to the question: Why is there a deliberate effort to brand Bennett as something that he is not?
To me the answer is obvious. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Bennett, a powerhouse of action he is impossible to ignore, so the elites of Israeli society (who all lean left) mock him. He represents, with terrifying consistency everything that is antithetical to their worldview:
1. Ideology over politics
Bennett isn’t a politician, he’s an ideologue. While many politicians tout ideology in order to further their political career, for Bennett, politics are a way to actualize his ideology.
In an era of cynicism and “alternative facts” where it is common to assume that “all politicians are liars” and that the only reason anyone would go into politics is for self-aggrandizement, Bennett is a rarity. What kind of politician actually means what he says and acts according to his beliefs?!
Over the years Bennett has proven that he puts ideology first, consistently making choices he thought would advance his ideas – even when it meant taking a step back and possibly hurting his personal advancement.
Bennett’s sincerity makes him dangerous. His success not only defeats those who oppose his values and ideals, it also unveils the hypocrisy of those who tout the same ideology but don’t actually implement it when they have the opportunity to do so.
2. Faith rooted in Zionism
Bennett’s faith has triggered much discussion and even contention on both sides of the political map.
For the political left religion is a sign of irrational thinking. The idea that a man could be motivated by a higher purpose, be modern and liberal and yet reject globalism, preferring Jewish Nationalism is incomprehensible.
For many on the political right Bennett isn’t religious enough. To them his openness and willingness to accept (and even live with!) those who do not hold the same beliefs seems indicative of lax values. They don’t recognize the strength it takes to have an open heart, seek out commonalities over differences and bridge gaps while retaining one’s own values.
For those around the world who loath the existence of a sovereign Jewish State, Bennett is the symbol of everything they hate – the New Jew, a modern person, connected to ancient indigenous roots.
The New Jew, for the first time in 2000 years, can have a fulfilled Jewish identity, determining his or her own balance between Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael (the Nation, Bible and the Land). Moreover, the New Jew is a fighter who stands unafraid against the onslaught directed at the Jewish State, knowing that the only one he or she can count on to protect lives and ensure the future of our Nation is ourselves.
The existence of the New Jew angers antisemites and scares Jews who have not yet shed the diaspora mentality. Bennett, in his various positions has successfully fought (and continues to fight) physical and diplomatic foes, including foreign funded NGOs attempting to undermine the security and future of the Jewish State.
A strong Bennett is bad for everyone who is afraid of fully actualized, sovereign Jews.
3. Experience, capabilities and purpose
Benjamin Netanyahu has long dominated the political arena in Israel. There are a number of Israeli politicians who imagine themselves as potential successors but none have the advantages of Naftali Bennett.
In addition to his experience in government and Cabinet positions, Bennett’s success in high-tech has provided him with insight into business and economics few career politicians have.
Growing up in Israel but with an America outlook gave Bennett the power of English and insight into American mentality, one of the main skills Netanyahu has leveraged to the advantage of the Nation. Few Israeli leaders are able to successfully bridge both worlds. While Netanyahu’s skills are second to none, his perfection makes many Israelis uncomfortable. Bennett has the advantage of genuine Israeli grit, tempered by the understanding and ability to move in both worlds.
Most of all, unlike most other politicians, he’s not in the arena for himself. He’s there to ensure the future for his family, friends and nation which, of course, terrifies all of his rivals.
Nothing is more powerful than someone fighting for their family.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”