Populism and messianism: their weakness 2023/10/13

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The prominent historian and considered one of the most notable living intelligences, Yuval Noah Harariis born and educated in Israel, published a provocative column this week in the Washington Post about the conflict currently taking place in the Gaza Strip. Harari argues that the real reason behind Israel's dysfunctionality is not alleged immorality (on which he has increasingly based his demagogic narrative), but populism.

For years, Israel has been ruled by Benjamin Netanyahua skilled public relations man, but an incompetent statesman. Netanyahu He repeatedly put his personal interest before national interest, and built his career by polarizing and dividing the nation against itself. Noah Harari found in the populist profile and method of Netanyahu (identical to that of all populists in the world) the deep reason why the opportunity has been opened for the terrorist assault of the extremist organization Hamas. Netanyahu He appointed collaborators based on the criteria of loyalty and not training, merit or efficiency. He took credit for every success without ever assuming failures. He seemed to place little importance on telling or hearing the truth. And the last straw that broke his back inside Israel was his attempts to weaken the Supreme Court of Justice.

As pointed out Harari, Netanyahu He is the typical populist leader who uses polarization tactics, while ignoring the real challenges of his administration. This criticism also applies to several Latin American governments, where popularity takes precedence over real and long-term solutions. Where political confrontation replaces dialogue and where the truth is relative as suits the ruler. If we want to overcome complex problems such as inequality, insecurity and corruption, we need statesmen, not politicians who seem willing to stretch the ties to the point of breaking them and putting at risk, as always happens, the security and lives of those they govern. We need leaders who unite instead of divide. May they inspire the best in us, not the worst.

Populism is tempting, but it always leads to the abyss. Sooner or later, reality prevails over demagoguery. And reality first takes its toll on the people, on the citizens, but, sooner or later, always also, it takes its toll on the populist leader. When that happens, the only way out for citizens in any country is to get back on track with humility, self-criticism and greatness of vision.

Populism is not exclusive to Israel; It is a phenomenon that has spread throughout the world. Populist leaders often emphasize “us versus them,” dividing society and undermining national cohesion. The resulting fragmentation weakens a country's ability to address its internal and external challenges effectively.

Yuval Noah Harari It reminds us that political dysfunction cannot be reduced to immorality. Populism, when it deviates from genuine public service towards hubris (or the ego) of its leaders, can have a devastating impact on a nation. It is imperative that Israel, like any other nation, seeks responsible leaders committed to the well-being of its people and the future of its country. Truth as a criterion and unity in democracy, legality and respect for diversity should be the foundations on which a solid and prosperous future for peace is built. In Israel and in any country that aspires to peace, progress and well-being of all its inhabitants.

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