Benjamin Netanyahu triumphed again on Thursday in one area, for better or worse - in all the talking about his speeches. Talking about what the prime minister will say in his next speech, compared to what he said in his previous one, which of course stands in contrast to the earlier speech-of-his-life. This constant talk has snowballed over the years and expanded to encompass the entire Israeli news media.
The media discussed for hours Thursday what Netanyahu was going to say (as it discussed Friday, even in these very lines, what he has said) and as it hastens to gather "reactions" and reviews about the show, as though it were a concert.
Bibi-ist Israel measures out its life in the prime minister's pre-, post- and neo-speeches-of-his-life. This is no doubt an improvement on the past, when our lives were measured out in wars and military operations.
Needless to say, this talk about speeches - not about actions - fills first and foremost Netanyahu's own being. In one of the high points of his annual recital Thursday (which was eloquent and polished as usual - weaving in the Holocaust, high-tech and the Bible ), Netanyahu executed a small fugue, consisting only of trilling variations on the words "I said," "I stressed" and "I emphasized."
"I've been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years ... I spoke about it when it was fashionable, and I spoke about it when it wasn't fashionable ... I speak about it now because the hour is getting late ... it's not only my right to speak; it's my duty to speak," he said.
"Speaking" is good, it's important, it's excellent. Certainly better than acting rashly. But it appears that Netanyahu - as the crisis with the United States suggests - has a sort of blind spot, in which there is a permanent blurring and obscuring of the line between the words and the practical conclusions.
It's a sort of tradition in the political-conceptual world he comes from. Thus, even his repeated "speaking" about "the Iranian threat" - which was carried away on the wings of his own rhetoric - started to defeat itself at a certain stage, at least in terms of his relations with the White House.
The same thing happened when Netanyahu hastened to send Ahmadinejad a rhetorical epistle, giving back "twice as good as he got" even before hearing the Iranian leader's speech, thus enabling the Iranian spokesman to present the threat to Iran as coming from Israel.
Netanyahu's speaking policy could be seen as a meteoric success - and may still be seen as such - were it not for the fear that one day all the things he says will add up to a reality even he himself does not want. Then it may transpire that Netanyahu has not only defeated himself by his speaking, but all of us.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now