Benjamin Netanyahu is a hedonist, and perhaps even a greedy one. So what? Sara Netanyahu meddles behind the scenes; she may even be doing some hiring and firing. So what? The witch hunt launched against the couple is the wrong kind of hunt.
While it's true that we owe a debt of gratitude to journalists like Raviv Drucker, who expose our leaders' lifestyles, and we should ostensibly express our appreciation for investigative journalism that reveals corruption at the top - we once again find ourselves, affair after affair, engaged in the wrong kind of uproar, one that is disproportionate and deceptive.
Should the media outlets run these stories? Certainly. But to then turn it into a witch hunt on this scale? It's now become excessive, even damaging. And it deflects attention from the real issues at hand - in this case, that we have a bad prime minister, irrespective of the hotel he chooses to stay in. Sara should be left alone entirely, while Benjamin should be judged on his actions, not his lifestyle.
It's unpleasant to find out that we have a prime minister who doesn't pick up the check, but the real debt he owes us is a different one - and we are not demanding reimbursement. Nor is it pleasant to learn that our prime minister frequents luxury hotels at the expense of whoever. It's unpleasant, but it's not terrible. What is much more worrying is what he does, and particularly what he does not do, while in the suite, or in office, or in the government. The "Bibi-Tours" affair pales in comparison to the damage and disgrace this man and his government have brought on us. Netanyahu's hedonism is far less scary than his failures.
The vanity fair is in full swing. When the prime minister misleads us with witty, baseless speeches professing his support for "two states... blah, blah, blah," he is forgiven. When he criminally wastes precious diplomatic time, leads the state to the edge of the cliff while building more settlements, enacts further anti-democratic laws, and brings the country to its most ostracized position in its history, we are more agitated by his vacation habits. People are shocked and horrified by the fact that Netanyahu flies on private jets, while saying nothing about the fact that he is flying all of us nowhere, regardless of the aircraft.
Two years after his Bar-Ilan outcry, the only new development remaining from that speech, Bar-Ilan 2, was floated as a trial balloon and popped immediately. Yet there are still people who believe in him, and others who have simply cut him slack. Netanyahu should have been denounced for the Bar-Ilan fraud long before being criticized for taking vacations on the Israel Bonds' tab. He should have been repudiated for the diplomatic mess he has neglected to clean up, rather than his excessive dry cleaning. He should be denounced for every additional home built in the settlements, for every additional McCarthyist law and for his thuggish foreign minister.
Want an example of the madness that has taken hold here? Last summer, Channel 10 aired footage recorded in 2001, showing Netanyahu bragging to a bereaved family in Ofra about his role in destroying the Oslo Accords. That video should have evoked the real outrage - for it revealed that we have a prime minister who has boasted of sabotaging agreements to which Israel was obligated. But surprise, surprise, the clip got barely a mention in the headlines. Just give us more juicy, salacious stories about what happened in the lobby of the Golden Calf Hotel, more tidbits about the cliff where one can take in the splendid view of Monaco and Nice. To hell with Oslo Shmoslo.
The prime minister has now played his supposed trump card, claiming there are those who wish to see his downfall. It's a good thing these people exist - this is legitimate in a democracy. But for heaven's sake, they are doing this for the wrongest reasons.
What about missing the opportunity to forge a peace deal with the Palestinians and with Syria? What about the dark clouds hovering over America? What about Israel's ruined relations with Turkey? What about the siege on Gaza? What about the sense of shame that now comes with being Israeli, and that is felt nearly everywhere in the world? Is no one responsible for this? Shouldn't anyone have to answer? Is Netanyahu not culpable? And, most of all, are these issues not more important than his overseas travel?
Ironically, the prime minister may very well enjoy reading this column - particularly the argument that he is a victim of a disproportionate witch hunt. He has never felt the same level of urgency to respond, to call, to give an interview, to explain and to justify his actions than now, in the wake of this vacation scandal. But someone as experienced as Netanyahu knows full well why this is the case. While he will easily survive his diplomatic failures, he is liable to lose his position because of his flights aboard Spencer Partridge's private jet. That is life in the vanity fair.
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