Monday, January 19, 2015

Israel’s elections: where Looney Tunes bash True Grit

Back in the old days in the old country (USA), movie goers often saw animated cartoons before ‘the movie’ began. These animations were silly, short and completely delightful. They were called, ‘Looney Tunes’.

In the same year Looney Tunes ended its movie ‘career’  (1969), a new John Wayne Western came out. That movie was, ‘True Grit’. It was a story about persistence, courage and, well, ‘grit’ (determination, resolve).

Between 1930-1969, Looney Tunes gave us Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck, among others. Between 1930-1976, John Wayne appeared in more than 140 pictures. Eighty-three of these pictures were Westerns.

He was an icon—an American film ‘hero’. But he won only one Academy Award—for his role in ‘True Grit’.

In Israel today, we’ve got several politicians running to become an Israeli John Wayne. They want to be the hero-as-Prime Minister.

John Wayne in his movies was indestructible. He was, for some, the perfect father figure—which, we may note, makes him the perfect icon for Israel’s Prime Minister wannabees.

True Grit plays a role here not so much because of John Wayne’s character—a crusty, older law officer who was often wrong—but because of the appearance of a ‘new guy’. This was a young girl, perhaps age 15. She was inexperienced. She was innocent. She knew nothing. But she had ‘true grit’. She was absolutely determined to find her father’s killer.

She succeeded, even as John Wayne didn’t believe she could.

Rumour has it that Israelis are tired of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (“Poll: 65% Israelis don’t want Netanyahu as prime minister”, Times of Israel, December 6, 2014). Israelis, we are told, want something new.

They want John Wayne and True Grit rolled into one leader. They
want a leader who’ll be indestructible.

But what we’ve seen so far in this election-campaign season looks more like Looney Tunes than Hollywood heroics. Voters look more likely to elect Daffy Duck than John Wayne.

Look at how this election season unfolds. We’ve been told that this election will bring change to Israel—but the symbol of that change isn’t exactly heroic (“How a Chocolate Pudding Could Decide Israel's Election”, The Jewish Forward, December 21, 2014; and “There's a scent of change in Israeli politics”, Haaretz, January 16, 2015).

But wait.  We’re told that those reports smell wrong. This election will change nothing (“Expert: Nothing New Under the Sun in 2015 Elections”, Arutz Sheva, December 19, 2014).

So what will be—change or no change?

Here’s what will be: loony tunes loses its truth and its grit.

We’ll see a lot of name-calling and political chest-thumping. It’ll be just like those Looney Tunes cartoons: animated fighting and lots of pratfalls.

We already have candidates for ‘best attack video’ (“For Likud and Jewish Home, an escalating sibling rivalry”, Times of Israel, January 19, 2015). Likud and Jewish Home lead the pack (ibid).

Some of our laughs come from the headlines themselves. Since December 21, 2014, we’ve been told the following: first, Netanyahu’s Likud will be stronger, the political Right weaker (“New Poll: Likud Stronger, But Right Weaker”, Arutz Sheva, December 21, 2014). Then, the Right is bad for Israel (“Former Shin Bet Chief: Right-wing Parties are 'Destructive'”, Arutz Sheva, December 26, 2014).

Then we’re told, those statements are wrong: voters don’t know what they want (“Poll: 61% of Voters Haven't Made Up Their Minds”, Arutz Sheva, December 28, 2014).

No, that’s wrong. Voters do know what they want. They want the Right (“Israeli Right to Dominate Election”, frontpagemag, December 30, 2014).

But the Right’s wrong, right?

Doesn’t matter. The Right’s not going to win anything, anyway. Look at Netanyahu. He’s supposed to be Right (“Netanyahu set to lead a strikingly hardline Likud”, Times of Israel, December 31, 2014)). But the media says he’s Left (“Bibi to Make Barkat Jerusalem Minister for 'Peace Now Policy'”, Arutz Sheva, January 5, 2015). He’s choosing people to help him implement a Leftist policy in Israel (ibid).

No, that’s wrong. Netanyahu’s going to be replaced by real Leftists. Polls prove it: the Leftist Labor-Hatnua new unity Parry would win if elections were held today (“Labor-Hatnuah slate ahead in latest polls”, Haaretz, January 15, 2015).

The Looney Tunes we saw in the 1950’s and 60’s had cartoon characters wacking each other with tree branches and dead fish. In Israel, cartoonish politicians bash each other with the same flair (“'Malicious' Media Slams Netanyahu over Paris 'Elbowing'”, Arutz Sheva, January 13, 2015).

There’s True Grit in this election because we’ve got  inexperienced, politically innocent politicians declaring that they have the determination and resolve to lead (“Herzog [Labor Party] Vows to Take Power and Appease Obama”, Arutz Sheva, January 16, 2015); “Shaked [Jewish Home]: We Will Head the Next Government”, January 16, 2015).

Then there’s Tzipi Livni. She stands alone. She’s the only politician who has united True Grit with Looney Tunes.

 She’s from the anti-Zionist Labor-Hatnua unity Party. She’s provoked the headline, “Livni hints Zionist Camp [her nick-name for her anti-Zionist Party] may not sit in coalition with [the supposedly Zionist] Likud”, Times of Israel, January 16, 2015.

She’s got it all: Looney Tunes, True Grit and an anti-Zionist Party that calls itself the ‘Zionist Camp’.

In the end, you’ll get to vote for ‘the best political imitation of Elmer Fudd’ award. That’s Elmer Fudd, who tries forever to shoot Bugs Bunny, but always ends up seriously injuring himself.

Who’ll win that award?





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