Netanyahu - Emil Salman - 12092011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo by Emil Salman
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The government's totally irresponsible decision to reject the convenient compromise with Turkey that was proposed by the United States did bring one benefit. A dilemma has been resolved. To the question of whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an extremist leader to an unfathomable degree, or whether he is simply an opportunist, a waffler - a liar, we now have an answer: Netanyahu is no liar.

Of Caesar, one of the protagonists of Yaakov Shabtai's novel, "Past Continuous" ("Zikhron Devarim" ), it was written that lies would simply trip off his tongue. But Caesar was not a pathological liar; his lies were simply dictated by his stubborn insistance on being with three women at the same time. Deception wasn't part of his character, it was a tool to maintain an extreme situation.

That's the way it is for an extremist leader, too. Nobody views the extremists who brought disaster on the first half of the 20th century as opportunistic con-men. Fraud and false impressions were the tools they needed. The extremist leader must use fraud to resolve the dissonance between his extremism and his leadership position, which requires a centrist image.

This is the adulterer's method: "I have a weakness for women," "She opened a button," "I love you"; while to the others, he'll say, "I'm going to leave her," "When the boy is born. Grows up. Gets drafted."

Promises, deceit and words are tools. But in Netanyahu's case, the masquerade is over, even for those who are addicted to false hopes.

Among the octet leading us to disaster there was only one who opposed the American compromise. The defense, diplomatic and legal establishments supported it. The warning that if Turkey fell, our embassies in Egypt and Jordan would not survive, echoed loudly in the background. Ehud Barak, Dan Meridor and even Eli Yishai and Benny Begin supported the compromise. Avigdor Lieberman made it clear he could swallow the wording. Only Netanyahu remained ensconced in his extremism.

Like the other octet's farces - a deal for Gilad Shalit is imminent, the extension of the settlement freeze is imminent, along with 20 stealth aircraft - the compromises aren't evasive. It's not Lieberman, it's not "that woman," whom he has fashioned into a false demon, it's not fear of the son who opened a Kahanist Facebook page, and it's not the father who has the same opinions; it's Netanyahu's own holy spirit.

Before the last elections, a warning appeared on these pages. It pretended to make known a shocking truth about one of the party leaders. But a real cautionary note must be issued regarding Netanyahu: The man is dangerous.

Yossi Ben-Aharon, the director-general of the Prime Minister's Office under Yitzhak Shamir, said that to his right there was only a wall. But Netanyahu is beyond that wall. He's in the place where the "with blood and fire we'll boot out Rabin" demonstrations were organized.

People like Yehuda Bauer, and Yoram Kaniuk and myself who attended a meeting last week with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas experienced the disaster. Before us, they said, was a competent leader who had brought security and prosperity to the West Bank, someone who, in Israeli political terms, is positioned between Meretz and Hadash. In his moderation, he could be a member of Brit Shalom, an early twentieth-century group that preached Jewish-Arab coexistence in Palestine, a partner to the Jewish world that was destroyed in Europe. The epidemic of destructive propaganda turning Abbas into an "extremist" is of our own making.

Just over a week ago, half a million people protested - 10 percent of the population of protesting age. That's equivalent to five million Britons or 25 million Americans, a number that in any democracy would lead to elections and a total change.

But here, under the most extreme Israeli leadership, the boots come to sweep away the tents as if they were dust, the finance minister gives them the finger, and Netanyahu rolls with laughter when Rabbi Ovadia Yosef tells him that the million, "have no chance against you."

So in order for there to be a chance, every citizen must rise up - not with ugly text messages that tried to prevent the appointment of a chief of staff who would go along with the extremism, but openly. It's not for nothing that a right-winger like former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned of a looming disaster.

This is the responsibility of Barak, Meridor and Barack Obama. It's also the responsibility of Labor voters to choose a leader who will draw voters from the right and from among those who don't vote, and who will shout down the person who is leading a generations-old dream to an apocalypse.