Aim Your Fire at Him

When PM Benjamin Netanyahu chose to speak at length in Germany about his wife and the degree of influence that she does or does not wield over him, he was, contrary to his wishes, directing the fire right at her.

"Please direct your fire at me, and leave my wife and children be."

This poetic text composed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is, as is usual with our prime minister, spin that does exactly the opposite of what it says. When Netanyahu chose to speak at length in Germany about his wife and the degree of influence that she does or does not wield over him, he was directing the fire right at her. He knows more than anyone that no matter who influences him or how, the decisions and the moves are his.

A prime minister, like all officials, be they elected or appointed, is a kind of package deal: He or she comes with a spouse, with a family, and with "associates."

In Bibi's case, he comes with a father who thinks the Holocaust is not over, and therefore it is not surprising that the prime minister himself thinks that we are in existential peril. He comes with Uzi Arad, who is highly intelligent but a conservative, an extreme right-winger, and people who have worked with him say he is irritable, suspicious, unpredictable and pugnacious in his reactions (interesting that this description jibes nicely with what her ex-housemaids say about Sara Netanyahu).

And he comes with Sheldon Adelson and Ron Lauder, two white, rightist, billionaire males, who are used to having everybody working for them. And then of course there's Sara.

That's the package, and everyone in it influences Netanyahu, some more and some less, in one way or another. Not one of them was elected, and thus the influence of none of them is more or less legitimate than that of the others.

But nonetheless, while all of the others seem to have a license - whether official or unofficial - to exert influence, the savage attacks are leveled only at the wife, because by having the audacity to interfere she is departing from our normal job description of a wife: be presentable, cheerful, supportive, and silent.

The argument should not therefore focus on the psychology of the prime minister's wife, but rather on how Netanyahu runs his office and the country. And if he does troublesome things (to put it mildly), and allows his office to lie (to put it mildly again), it matters not if this is because he was on a secret trip to Russia, because of a speck of dust in his eye, or "because of" his wife.

It is he and his office that are lying and which have adopted the wrong priorities. Objectively, the issue of Sara Netanyahu's influence over the affairs of the Prime Minister's Office and the country as a whole is irrelevant.

Benjamin Netanyahu's decisions are his own, and there is no significance to the identity of the person who thought them up - if he took them, he must have liked them. If he gives in to pressures and takes decisions he doesn't like, the responsibility is his own to an even greater degree.

Even if what he really wants is to keep her away but he can't manage to do so, the responsibility is his.

The pundits who wrote in recent weeks, "You elected Bibi, not Sara," are both wrong and misleading. Not only was it a package deal, but the contents were well known before the election, and we can't say we didn't know.

The venerable sage who said "Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are," knew what he was talking about. That is the way we are: likes attract.

So apparently Bibi resembles the people around him, and apparently quite a few of us are like Bibi - after all, they voted for him. So, friends, complain about yourselves, not about Sara.