Netanyahu at the launch of the film in Los Angeles.
Netanyah greets members of the Los Angeles Jewish community as he arrives for a reception at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California, March 4, 2014. Photo by AFP
Text size

Of all the millions of square kilometers that cover the globe, could God not have found another land to promise the Jews other than this rutted old hole? Half of it is desert and the other half swamp land, and if that were not enough, for three-quarters of the year it is beastly hot, with a generous sprinkling of sticky humidity to go with it. And that is without even mentioning the neighbors, who resemble the inhabitants of a jungle more than they do cultured people. Honestly, couldn’t God have promised a plot of land in Manhattan or at least in Europe?

And nobody suffers from that more than Benjamin Netanyahu. His body is in the East, but his heart longs for Manhattan. Just to see how the man blossoms there, like a fish put back in the sea, is to understand that he belongs there, in the United States, getting thousands up on their feet to dance at the AIPAC conference.

In his behavior, Netanyahu is loyal to the white man and his values. He does not get excited over the people of the jungle. When they rise up with courage against their tyrants, he even loathes them, and when they are slaughtered he has no sympathy for the victims. He uses the atrocities as fodder in his fight against the Wild East. After the overthrow of Mubarak, as part of his loyalty to the legacy of supporting tyrants, all that was lacking was that he put up a mourners’ tent. And before that, when the Jasmine Revolution began in Tunisia, he mourned the fall of the tyrannical regime there. And in between, he strengthens occupation theory, which forbids moving forward on the path of peace during periods of instability. As if during times of stability, Israel was begging the Arabs to accept the return of their land.

Four years ago, a committee to “wean the world off oil,” as TheMarker described it, was formed at the initiative of Netanyahu’s government. The search for alternatives to oil is welcome, but a deeper look at the project shows that the committee is just as worried about “the enormous payment to oil exporters, which is actually the transfer of massive wealth from the developed and developing world to a small number of countries whose economies are based almost entirely on oil export.” At the time, I wondered how one neighbor could do something like that to another. Is Netanyahu really a son of this region — who, even if he were to quarrel with his neighbors, would never think of sabotaging their livelihood?

Netanyahu did not fall far from the tree. Ben-Gurion, in his time, avoided even meeting his protégés from the Arab parties. And quite a few respected Zionist leaders concluded that the Palestinian tragedy in 1948, and the uprooting of hundreds of thousands from their homes, was proof that they were not the owners of the land. But as we saw during the first Gulf War, Jews, too, like any other living creature, would rather become “an effluent of weaklings,” to borrow Yitzhak Rabin’s phrase, to save themselves and their families.

Even within Israel, the attitude of the “foreign implant” prevails. This week, I paid a condolence call in Deir al-Assad in the north. On my way from Afula, I passed “Raful’s Tunnel,” named for Rafael Eitan, who once referred to the Arabs as “drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” The tunnel is located at the entrance to Nazareth, Iksal and Yafa an-Naseriyye. When I entered Deir al-Assad, I drove underneath the Mordechai Gur Bridge. The ones who built it did not forget to add near his name, in their careful consideration, the title “Liberator of Jerusalem.”

Deir al-Assad (together with parts of Ya’ana and Majd al-Krum) was likewise “liberated,” in the 1950s, to establish the city of Karmiel. Meanwhile, these villages have become noisy and crowded. I asked my interlocutor who sat on the committee that named these projects at the entrance of Arab communities after those who had called them drugged cockroaches and had starred in the history of their occupation. Perhaps we will find the answers at the AIPAC conference across the sea.

Those who abuse Mother Nature will be repaid by her. So instead of asking the justified question, “Will we live by our sword forever?” we should ask, “Will we forever be a foreign implant?” Alienation does not help, particularly future generations. Those who want to live here must show just a bit of sympathy for the surroundings. Manhattan is not the surroundings. At most, it is a lovely tourist destination.