The blind artist
Yes, bitter resistance to Israel will always remain, but Israel does not lift a finger to lessen it except to make threats.
Once again, the prime minister was right. Benjamin Netanyahu predicted that terror would come, and it did. He was right in saying there is no Palestinian partner for peace: Soon there won't be. He correctly predicted that the Arab Spring poses a threat to Israel: This will be borne out shortly. Now he is right in saying that Iran will get the bomb: It's possible that one will be put together. That is the way of self-fulfilling prophecies. When you see danger everywhere the world becomes a dangerous place.
Frightenyahu is right, the majority of Israelis believe. The state's second visionary - of the state of anxiety and scaremongering - has the gift of prophecy. But had he acted differently from the start, the world would be different today. For that reason, his childish illustration for the United Nations could have been drawn differently as well, as the three-stage bomb of his term in office. The red line is close, and if he is elected to a third term he might cross it in the spring of 2012. How did Robert Mankoff, the editor of The New Yorker's wonderful cartoons, put it in the Netanyahu Caption Contest that went up yesterday on the weekly's website? "That Bibi, he's the bomb." The winning caption for Netanyahu's bomb drawing, by the way, was, "We CANNOT let Iran acquire Christmas tree ornaments!"
Apparently the entire world is not stupid, not even - and here's the most surprising news - the entire United States of America. The prime minister did speak (and draw) at the level of a small (and learning-disabled) child. That is how he views everyone (except himself). It's like salespeople who treat customers like a bunch of idiots. In Israel even the youngest child has learned the language of nuclear - centrifuges, nuclear fission, the location of Fordow - but the salespeople are right when it comes to the popular attitude toward Netanyahu. Israelis marvel at his prophesies, a majority say they would vote for him again. Even the chief of staff of the Prime Minister's Bureau, Gil Sheffer, could be seen clapping with exaggerated, laughable enthusiasm in the VIP balcony of the UN General Assembly alongside a retinue of yes-men in knitted kippas. But, mocking aside, we should also beg forgiveness for the insult to intelligence. Israel has a problem, a ticking time bomb called Netanyahu.
His predictions come true because his kind of paranoia is destined to fulfill itself. The Arab nations demanded democracy; in a few countries it worked - at least in part - but Netanyahu spied out another danger immediately: another self-fulfilling prophecy. Had we a prime minister who welcomed the Arab Spring with hope and positive measures the attitude to Israel would be different. When you sow fear instead of dealing with the occupation, you reap an Iranian bomb, Al-Qaida and no-partner. That, after all, is Netanyahu's great achievement: to fear every development; to make us forget what must not be forgotten, and replace it with fear tactics; to conceal the motive and present only the result. That's how it is with a prime minister who reconstructs the Auschwitz death marches without asking why it is that the world is against us once again.
Iran is a threat to Israel, as is Muslim fundamentalism and perhaps even the Arab Spring. What do we do? Threaten and frighten until the threat grows even greater, just the opposite of what Israel should do. To neutralize a threat you must address its causes. The region is rife with loathing for Israel, including its very existence, but this hatred can be reduced to a speck. By resolving the Palestinian issue, for example. It is the fuse, and it is more dangerous than any hidden centrifuge. Very little imagination is needed to describe a different reality, one in which the occupation has ended, a majority of Palestinians has accepted peace, and the majority of the Arab world has accepted Israel. Recall the first days after the Oslo Accords, when Yitzhak Rabin was king of the world, including the Arab world, up until Israel stopped fulfilling its side of the agreement. What would they say in Tehran, what would they tell in the streets of Gaza? The Iranian threat to Israel would lose its motivation, or at least the excuse for its existence.
Yes, bitter resistance to Israel will always remain, but Israel does not lift a finger to lessen it except to make threats. In fact, it does all it can to increase the opposition. It has a blind artist for a prime minister who draws lines with a red marker, marking out another war - and the nation marvels at his drawings and his prophecies.