Bibi Wasn't There

More than 100 heads of state gathered in New York last week for yet another emergency conference on the environment. Who wasn?t there? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that?s who.

All the rivers, we are told in Ecclesiastes (which is read on the Sabbath during Sukkot), run into the sea, yet the sea is not full - at least not yet. But all this is set to change, as the sea will surely overflow its shores pretty soon due to world climate change. Merchant ships are navigating the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia and Canada for the first time in history.

So is the end of the world at hand? At the sight of eternal mountains of ice melting and crumbling, even the last hold-out ecological-holocaust deniers are starting to stammer, and the world, with its last remaining strength, is trying to save itself from itself, before this planet becomes just another planet. No statesmen and women today who don't place global warming at the top of their agendas and that of their constituencies are worthy of their titles.

No utterance by the government nowadays fails to include a reference to greenhouse gases and the urgent need to curb their emission, to bottle the polluting genie inside the smokestack, to turn back the wheels of industry and transportation, even as they move forward. More than 100 heads of state gathered in New York last week for yet another emergency conference on the subject. Who wasn't there? Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that's who.

Of all people, he - who is considered an expert on terrorism, by himself at least - should know by now that oil pipelines are the blood vessels of global terror, and as long as the flow's configuration is not changed and alternative energy - solar, wind and water - is not developed, the dark side of the globe will expand at the expense of the illuminated side. Democracies will go on licking the oily boots of corrupt tyrannies, in whose yards most of the gushing wells are to be found. No longer are there barriers separating political-security issues, which we still set above all our other concerns, and ecological issues, which we still relegate to the lowest levels.

But Bibi didn't bother to be there, as if he were trying to prove once more that Israel isn't part of the whole, as if this country were an island unto itself. But being an island isn't a way out - islands will be the first to be flooded over when the sea level rises.

You'll say he was busy and had to stay at his nearby hotel. But U.S. President Barack Obama also had a problem or two on his plate, and the German chancellor had the climax of a general-election campaign waiting for her at home.

You'll say Israel is a small country - what can it contribute to a forum like that? But Denmark is also small, and that's where all the world's leaders will gather in December to forge a new agreement on emissions. Will Copenhagen have the privilege of hosting Netanyahu? Probably not.

True, Israel is a small country, but as a polluter it's quite big. And every country, without exception, has to look at itself as an America, China, India or Brazil, responsible for the well-being of Earth and humankind.

Israel's leaders, who actually enjoy traveling the globe and partaking of its fullness, are not people of today's wide world. They are people of yesterday's world, in their dug-in positions, in their wars - the next war is always the last war - and in their environmental policies.

They are ready, of course, to share the world's sorrow, as long as they are at the center of the world, at the center of the sorrow. And if not, let the world go to perdition, along with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.