Published On: Fri, Aug 26th, 2016

Draining hope and springing fear

Op-ed: Netanyau's latest show of bravado to the press does nothing more than fan the flames of insecurity and take away hope for the people of Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has performed extravagant shows for hundreds of journalists over the past month. The main event was preceded by a workshop in which he wrote, arranged and created a presentation of his own accomplishments and glory. In his performance in front of the journalists, Netanyahu was in his element: Eloquent, consistent, with a sophisticated sense of humor. His retorts were crystal-clear, moving like a graceful figure skater.

The presentation was perfect. The content, though, was deceiving. And so I hereby offer Mr. Netanyahu an alternative, authentic and essential content that is intrinsic to our lives and future.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister, no one will deny your broad education or your eruditeness in general and Jewish history. You know that twice during history, the zealots from the right overtook the moderates, went up against superpowers and were squashed by them, which was how the First and Second Temples were destroyed.

You know that since World War II, no country in the UN has tried to exterminate another UN member. There are and have been conflicts, but no attempt at destruction. I think the only would-be exception was Tanzania’s invasion to Uganda, which ended after Idi Amin was removed from power.

And yet, while no country was completely wiped out, dozens have imploded or fallen apart. Collapsed and crumbled. That is exactly what is going on here. That’s the process taking place in Israel, and it’s happening faster and faster still on your watch.

Many Israelis have been scrambling for a foreign passport over the last few years. They loudly explain that they need them to go to school abroad and for business, while they whisper about using them as an escape route. Under your leadership, the request for foreign passports grew, due to a lack of hope, and because it is no longer safe to live in a country that has reached the playoffs in the Global Hatred Series—right after Iran and North Korea. People have been frequenting foreign embassies as if they were branches of IKEA. As foreign passports are placed into drawers—fear is placed into minds.

You have the power of persuasion, you are a powerful orator. Your intimidation and terrorization, your method of “frighten and rule”—all take their toll on people. You both charge them with fear and drain them of hope.

During your time in power, three linear and one-sided processes began to take place: the periphery is being depleted, while the West Bank is thriving; young people are leaving the Galilee and Negev regions and moving into the center of the country; and young people from the center move away to Berlin, the US, Canada and Australia. I’m sorry, I forgot, you have some trouble acknowledging that third point in your own biography, since you are actually the former immigrant who came back to torment us. Your brother, the late Brig. Gen. Yoni Netanyahu, used to refer to you as “my brother who made yerida (moved away from Israel), ” in the years following the Yom Kippur War, when moving away was considered indecent.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you have made an enormous effort in the peace process, as you claim you have. That if you allowed your personal envoy lawyer Yitzhak Molcho and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to reveal just how much you were willing to offer Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, it would shock your critics into silence. But that you discovered that sadly, there was no partner.

The thing is, though, that to release us from controlling the Palestinians, we don’t really need a partner. Back as the early 90s, you mentioned during private conversations that we won’t be able to control Gaza and all of Judea and Samaria forever, but that we should insist on the Jordan Valley and the Valley’s side of the Judean Hills for security reasons. You later recounted that you spoke to MK Benny Begin on the eve of his announcing he was supporting you, and that you promised him you wouldn’t divide Jerusalem or decrease the level of control Israel had over the Palestinians. I don’t know for certain if that was what you actually told him, but I do know for certain that it was what you said you told him.

During your negotiations with Opposition Leader Isaac “Bougie” Herzog, you admitted that the isolated settlements dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria were a heavy burden in your eyes, which begs the question why you don’t do anything about it.

Why indeed. The answer is that according to your interpretation, i.e. your cowardice, anyone trying would essentially be doing himself in. Cases in point: Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. You would probably say that even Yitzhak Shamir, the most rigid and far-right of the bunch, who agreed to a unity government and Rabin’s autonomy plan, was eventually defeated during the elections.

On January 17, 2010, you gave an impassioned speech on the housing crisis during a government meeting. It was truly poetic, more moving than a Charles Dickens novel. You spoke about how people are mortgaging their lives for four walls, and that you were going to topple the wall of bureaucracy and end their suffering, hopefully in the upcoming Knesset session. Since your speech, though, almost seven years have passed and the prices of apartments have doubled.

We won’t split hairs by bringing up your promise that in ten years, Israel would be one of the top ten leading economies in the world, when in reality we’re closer to the 40th spot. We won’t count the number of times you promised to erect two new cities in the Negev, the like of Las Vegas and Phoenix. We’ll forget about your promise of a zero percent income tax on food products. We’ll leave your plan for a longer school day for some other time. We’ll forgo your promise for changing our system of government, which is just another excuse for poor leadership.

When they told you the agreement with the Iranians was a done deal and that you had to drop all the bravado and go after some kind of compensation for it, you responded by saying you can’t think of anything that could compensate Iran achieving nuclear weapons. Well, I can’t think of anything that would compensate the killing of six million Jews, but Ben-Gurion had the foresight to receive reparations from Germany, thereby saving Israel’s economy.

You could have improved Israel’s defense and created thousands of new jobs in the industry, but you chose to be a theater actor over playing from the heart.

You’re about to turn 67 and reach 11 years as prime minister, which is a good time to think about those who might benefit from you, and not just your benefactors. You once urged someone to meet your American tycoon backer, explaining that he was the son of a cab driver from Boston who is now worth $40 billion. A few months ago, you were contemplating finally turning your back on the despicable world of politics, while stating that you could easily be making $300, 000 a month. The person you were talking to responded by saying life is more than just about money.

Who knows how much longer you’ll be prime minister—another year, or perhaps another decade—but if things continue the way they have, history will hold its head in disbelief over you.

Try, if you can, to loosen your grip, particularly in regard to your media obsession. Stop nitpicking at editors and journalists, when in reality the media has been relatively soft on you compared to your predecessors. It has shown mercy to those who sit at your table—our table, really.

It should also be noted that fllowing the slew of media appearances you gave this summer, journalists from the right and left, secular and Orthodox, who have witnessed the spectacle, state that while they like you more for it, they believe you less.

Ynet News

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