The "presentation" is to Benjamin Netanyahu what the violin is to Yitzhak Perlman and the guitar is to Eric Clapton - the instrument with which he skips with virtuosic skill between tables, arrows and numbers. Doubtlessly, if the job description for the premiership were to consist only of appearances with a projector, board and marker, Netanyahu would be one of the greatest leaders on earth. But what can one do: Our world is filled with all kinds of annoyances and distractions, on the part of the Americans, on the part of the Palestinians, on the part of the entire world, and these disturb the artist from fulfilling his real calling.
Anyone who was feeling depressed about the plethora of criminal affairs and tightening of the diplomatic noose around Israel's neck can get temporary relief from the press conference Netanyahu held two days ago to mark a year since his government was formed. Throughout that recital, Netanyahu showed why this is his forte. He and his presentation. For a long time, the prime minister has not been so alert and exuberant. His face shone as he proudly boasted of "1,500 decisions" that his government had taken in the past year.
It was like those people who try to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for making an omelet from 1,500 eggs. Like them, he too had difficulty proving the achievement, because it was not clear whether the shells were included in the tally - that is to say, all those decision about which he "changed his mind," such as VAT on fruit and vegetables, and the drought tax, and the Barzilai Medical Center affair, and everything else between. But if every embarrassing capitulation and hysterical zigzag is also counted as some kind of "decision," it is possible that this number is indeed reasonable.
At the height of the performance, Netanyahu tooted his own horn about another achievement: He is of the opinion that his presentation and list of achievements are more successful than the presentations and lists of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert. True, the "media" representatives interrupted him from time to time with annoying and marginal questions - such as the demise of the diplomatic process, security threats, catastrophic foreign relations and ties with the United States - but Netanyahu dismissed them with noncommittal replies and continued to concentrate on what was really important: statistics about the number of mothers who return to work, the number of balconies that will be closed in, and the heritage sites that will be whitewashed.
What does this bring to mind? The head of a house committee who is bringing the tenants up to date with the committee's achievements during the previous year - a new plant in the entrance, cleaning the mail boxes, changing a light bulb in the stairwell - while half the building has a demolition order hanging over it and the authorities are demanding the reparcellation of the entire plot.
Following Netanyahu's first meeting with Barack Obama, during which there was already a smell of sulfur in the air, some of the prime minister's close aides boasted of the "achievements" of that meeting. One of them was quoted saying that, contrary to the pessimistic predictions, "Obama did not hit Netanyahu on the head with a baseball bat".
Then came the second meeting, during which Obama hit Netanyahu on the head not only with a baseball bat but with Mount Rushmore. It is true that Netanyahu swayed a little from the blow, but he recuperated wondrously after a holiday visit to the heritage sites and this week, during his recital, he was already boasting about "the warm ties" with our great friend. Does anyone still remember, except perhaps Obama himself, that the Israeli government was charged with giving "a response within a day or two"? But perhaps this presentation, with the number of mothers who have returned to work and so forth, is the fitting Zionist response to Obama and all his peace-shmeace plans?
What is it, then, that we see here - blindness? Repression? A strange sense of power? Inexplicable euphoria? An inability to tell the difference between wheat and chaff? Seeing the verbal and visual wrapping as the be-all and end-all? Or is it perhaps a kind of semi-messianic, obdurate optimism that believes in the force of inertia of existence itself?
Never mind if we were merely referring to a personal attribute of the prime minister; but it seems that that same blind euphoria, which includes an escape from the real problems to vacuousness and deception, has swept away the entire body politic. Or perhaps this is the actual form of the victory of the concept that states "the conflict cannot be solved, it can only be managed."
According to the current system of management, we shall simply bury our heads in the sand and see what hits us first with a tremendous wake-up shock - a war, an intelligence surprise, an intifada or an imposed peace plan. In any event, we will respond with severity.
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