Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Simultaneously speaker and sign language interpreter. Photo by Emil Salman
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A voice is heard on high, all wails and lamentations – the Netanyahu family ate all our ice cream and used up all our water. What gall, such a lack of sensitivity! While the whole nation groans under the yoke of harsh economic decrees, the flag of the Caesar from Caesarea flutters arrogantly, bearing the words of the apostle Matthew, embroidered in silver letters – “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” What is God’s, according to that saying, God himself will take care of.

What was all the fuss about? Did we discover to our great surprise that one of the world’s mythical 36 righteous ones and his righteous spouse are but petty robbers, or that the paragon of humbleness is nothing but an unbridled glutton? All of a sudden we find out that the family owns three homes? That he doesn’t like paying bills? Do we “like” paying his bills?

Everything was already well-known, except perhaps the flavor of the ice cream. We may not have realized the excessive amounts involved, to which we’ll return below, but all of a sudden, for the thousandth time, the penny dropped: We’ve been suckered.

Water and electricity bills, ice cream and candles are things we can understand. These don’t require us to be experts in political science or analysts of grand strategies. A water bill is one of the few official documents that the emperor and the cab driver receive in identical envelopes. We lick our ice creams the same way and, in most cases, we know when to tell ourselves and our children that we’ve had enough. The routine practice of paying bills and even of lighting scented candles gives people a sense of equality and familiarity with their leaders.

This feeling is distorted, it must be said, but it’s based on the common familiarity with these day-to-day things. This is what allows the sucker to realize he’s being robbed. This is the only sphere in which we can compare data with the Netanyahu family, to compare their appetites with that of our family’s, our bills with theirs.

This is the way we can establish a line indicating a “modesty index.” We, obviously, always live under this line while the Netanyahus seem to live well above it.

Now that we’ve complimented ourselves for our modesty and finished knocking our heads against the wall for our stupidity, we can turn with a clear head to the really big wastes of money by the prime minister. What, for example, did we really get for the NIS 12 billion spent on preparations to attack Iran? How much are the settlements costing us? Which is cheaper - paving roads and opening schools and clinics in unrecognized Bedouin villages, or uprooting them and replacing them with Jewish settlements? How much compensation did those evacuated from the Gaza Strip really get? How many billions did we almost lose in the European Horizon 2020 project because of the settlements? Will the gas companies participate in the purchase of the German warships that will protect their facilities?

These kinds of numbers are beyond our comprehension. What can we understand of numbers that far exceed our salaries or the price of an ice cream cone or the average water bill? But that is where our big money is buried, the money of taxpayers who view a water bill of 80,000 shekels ($27,960) as robbing them of their money, but who are certain that the prime minister knows what he is doing when he spends billions of shekels.

Oversight and supervision of the Netanyahu family’s expense accounts are essential, and the results are aggravating. However, ignoring the truly massive waste is tantamount to complicity in the corruption. Who in his right mind would hand over his checkbook to a highway robber who promises to spend his money only on worthy causes?

This is no longer a case of being suckered or of being foolish, this is a conspiracy to commit a crime: We’ll denounce the prime minister for unwarranted spending of hundreds of thousands of shekels, but we’ll give him a green light to waste billions.