At the last cabinet meeting before Rosh Hashanah, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu counted his government's achievements for each Hebrew month of the passing year. In Tishri there was the release of Gilad Shalit, in Adar his speech at the AIPAC conference, and in Nisan the Bank of Israel's announcement that the economy had grown 4.7 percent for the year. Apart from real achievements such as the fence on the Egyptian border and the reform of the cell phone market, Netanyahu boasted largely about declarative events, including "the launching of an international environmental campaign."
It was no fluke the list lacked anything about international relations. Even the Netanyahu government's most significant achievement, rallying the world against Iran's nuclear program, is showing cracks due to a unique combination of aggressiveness, self-victimization, hysteria and arrogance. Netanyahu's endless warmongering is boomeranging and his crude interference in the U.S. presidential election has led to an unprecedented crisis with the White House.
Netanyahu only discussed his successes of the past year. A more panoramic view, including his New Year addresses of the past four years, reveal his greatest and most lasting triumph: the complete lowering of expectations. The graph of Israelis' hopes is constantly falling. Talk of a two-state solution has long since evaporated, the settlement drive continues, the world economic crisis has begun to nibble, the Arab Spring has evolved into an Islamic Winter, and the Iranian threat has only increased.
Warmongering has replaced the voices of last year's social protest. One can understand how the New Year hopes, which once included the prayer for peace and security, have been whittled down to one prayer: please, no catastrophe. Israel and its leaders aren't to blame for all these developments. Still, Israelis have the right to demand leaders who envision hope instead of beating the war drums and saying "we told you so," proud that all their bleak prophecies came true.
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