Netanyahu is proving himself - let him do his job
100 days or not, with or without Sara, the truth is that Bibi has brought color back to Likud's cheeks.
It's time we stopped this nonsense called the "100 days" test. The concept originated with President Roosevelt's success in passing legislation to solve the 1929 economic crisis. Even before that, it took 100 days from Napoleon's escape - from the island of Elba back to Paris - to his demise. John F. Kennedy, America's hope, stumbled shortly after his election in the unsuccessful military attack at Cuba's Bay of Pigs.
One hundred days are meaningless. Nobody expected David Ben-Gurion to proclaim Israel's independence in 100 days or to achieve anything concrete 100 days afterward. We've had good leaders and bad leaders, without having to count. Dalia Itzik didn't have to wait 100 days in order to announce that "Bibi is squeezable and crushable." Nor do the media convey a true picture of Bibi's performance in his first 100 days.
It is impossible to address the prime minister's performance without focusing on a matter called Sara, which occupies the media ad nauseum. The classic struggle in Jewish families is usually between the mother-in-law and the bride. In Netanyahu's family, according to the grapevine, Sara has the last word. She meddles in appointments and even in policy. Rumor has it that in his previous term there was a written agreement between them that he must take her to every event. After the great defeat she vanished from the scene.
With his electoral victory Sara returned and is allegedly involved in his appointments. There's a joke making the rounds about the work distribution in the Netanyahu family - the 100-year-old father is responsible for ideology and the wife for staffing the bureau. And since his spokespeople have a credibility problem, his recently enlisted son has been posted in the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman's unit. This whole Sara business, why and to whom should it matter?
In our macho-land, few politicians' wives have dominated their husband. Paula Ben-Gurion was pretty aggressive and used to scold the military secretary as well as Yitzhak Navon. She even called yours truly "phlegmatic," because I didn't attend some reception. Shimon Peres' relationship with his wife is also the stuff of a romance novel. Recently she went back to her maiden name. Some say it's to make sure they're not together in the hereafter as well.
One hundred days or not, with or without Sara, the truth is that Bibi has brought color back to Likud's cheeks. He raised his party from 12 Knesset seats to 27, an unprecedented success, while Labor is a wink away from becoming a semi-colon in the state's functioning. True, Kadima has the advantage of one additional Knesset seat, but Bibi managed to establish a stable government that does not depend on anyone's whims. Even Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Begin have turned into lambs.
But the media is replete with stories about the goings-on among the advisors, spokespeople and secretaries in the prime minister's bureau. Not only are there too many ministers, some say that dozens of personal aides are wrestling with each other over who will do what and who is more important than whom.
Ben-Gurion, whose legacy included establishing the state and conducting the War of Independence with his staff, had about half a dozen aides. A military secretary, a foreign-affairs secretary and a couple of typists. The less "historic" the leaders, the more aides they have. Both Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak's confidants waged wars with each other.
But all this is trivia. Bibi is at the helm during a fatal crossroads in the state's life. He is locked in an unprecedented clash with an American president who doesn't play with mannerisms of love for the Jews. An expose by Orly Azoulay in last weekend's Yedioth Ahronoth cites a "source close" to U.S. envoy George Mitchell, saying "Obama is not Bush and if Israel isn't with him in the move he's leading, he won't harm it, but it won't enjoy that special status that is critical for it." This is not simply worded. Never has an Israeli prime minister been under such a harsh threat as Netanyahu is from Obama.
Bibi has formed a functioning government, which in a time of need could be boosted by Kadima. The ideological move he is spearheading is different from that of the previous government. If impeded, he will not succeed. If we don't let him work, we won't know whether this is a different Bibi. We can criticize him for deviating from a political or ideological line, but don't tug the hem of his jacket, and leave him alone with the shtetl nonsense. Let Bibi work.