Analysis |

Netanyahu Incites and Whines – and Shows Worrying Signs of Totally Losing It

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an air force base on August 11, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits an air force base on August 11, 2020.Credit: Yariv Katz / Pool
Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

“You don’t build leadership out of misery,” Yitzhak Rabin once said about Shimon Peres. Three decades have passed since then. The national leadership has gone downhill and has almost reached rock bottom. But the wretchedness and self-pity have reached new heights. They are accompanied by worrying symptoms of a complete loss of control and acute panic.

There is no point in judging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s letter to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit with normal journalistic tools, of version A against version B, or by claims versus responses. This piece of paper exceeds even the limits of the evil campaign run by the defendant charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust against the attorney general who decided to put him on trial – after strictly overseeing the entire process, slowing down the pace of the investigation – and of course after closing cases wholesale against Netanyahu and his wife.

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All the lines in this emotional and insane work of invective are false, made up, exaggerated or distorted – and it seems were written in the middle of a fit of rage – or more likely, were dictated to the prime minister by someone. Mendelblit responded in a document that dismantled the lies one by one, and which slightly steps outside the bounds of his dry and cautious judicial temperament – with a conclusion that has a hint of accusation. Leaders also have “a central role in calming” things down, wrote Mendelblit. This is somewhat like telling the sun that it has a central role in the heat.

“An unprecedented campaign of incitement that includes calls for violence and even my murder and that of my family,” wrote Netanyahu. Unprecedented? After all, he was elected on the bloody back of a prime minister who was murdered, as the result of the savage incitement of which he was one of its main leaders. Incited and inflamed right-wingers stood every Friday, on the eve of the Sabbath, across from the entrance to the Rabins’ home in Ramat Aviv – and wished them that they end up like “Mussolini and his concubine” – meaning hanging upside down, with their feet up. That is less serious than three balloons in the shape of the male sexual organ? Or even a deviant post – that turns out was posted a year and a half ago, whose author was interrogated hours before Netanyahu’s execrable letter was sent.

An abundance of halakhic rulings stating the laws of “pursuer” and “informer” were written against Rabin during the period of the Oslo Accords and against Ariel Sharon in the days of the disengagement from Gaza. A Likud Knesset member – who later became a minister in the Netanyahu government – demanded to exhume Lily Sharon from her grave. The widower chose to handle the vermin with humor: “The undertaker,” he called him. Sharon’s healthy sarcasm is so lacking. His quiet and sure leadership, that of his predecessor and his successor is so lacking – until Netanyahu arrived. And until he turned the members of his household into an integral and ridiculous part of his rule.

Netanyahu obtained the headline he was looking for. His letter, along with the incriminating posts will set the Bibi-ist social media on fire. In the meantime, the news shows dealt less with the question of how a huge sign with the slogan “Leftists are traitors” was put up outside the prime minister’s official residence – where the security is at a maximum.

The letter to the attorney general is the result of three factors: The psychotic atmosphere that prevails at the prime minister’s residence when the voices of the protesters penetrate; the prime ministerial rotation; and of course, the reasonable possibility that Netanyahu will drag the exhausted country begging for its life to the fourth round of elections – in which he could very well lose even what he has left today. When Benny Gantz lost his temper this week and accused Netanyahu of never intending to honor the agreement, he was right. Lots of bad jokes were making the rounds on the internet regarding Gantz’s spine, which is about to undergo an operation due to a protruding disc and months of intense pain. Channel 12 chose to air that tasteless meme on prime time, delivered by a journalist clearly fearing for her reputation. A concrete example of the blurring of lines between mainstream journalists and online trolls.

In the meantime, all the frenetic activity ostensibly intended to stave off the threat of elections is an illusion. From MK Zvi Hauser’s bill delaying the budget deadline, to the bills targeting Netanyahu authored by Yesh Atid and Meretz. The political judgment is being delayed week by week, as the Likud members’ talking points on a single-year budget sound like a particularly bad joke. The chances of new elections are 50:50 – either this November, or June 2021, at the latest. The chance of continuing with unity and Netanyahu honoring agreements are approximately equal to his perceived bodily risk: Zero.

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