Benjamin Netanyahu hasn’t slept in a week.
He phones his despairing allies at 3:30 A.M., but they can offer him no solace, nor he them. He schedules a prime-time address to the nation, to be carried live — breaking into the principal evening news broadcasts — on all major television channels. But he then arrives late, haggard, weirdly alone, flanked by what the home audience has been left to watch, a wide dais with a full minyan of empty chairs.
He is scared shitless. Worse, for him: it shows.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s darkest, deepest fear is coming true. We, an entire country, can suddenly see him for what he really is: A loser.
It’s all coming apart. The gears are grinding on the Deus ex Machina, the gearwheel teeth coming loose and unmeshed from overuse and advancing age. Gone is the oratorical virtuoso, the political Merlin, the electoral Midas. Each, in his turn, has aged out.
But none of that is what makes him a loser.
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What makes him a loser is that he is a man with no honor. None.
Here is a man whose every word, every facial expression, every argument, every belief, is a false front. There is not one cell of principle in him.
You needn’t look any deeper than his eyes: His life is falsehood and hatred. His work is falsehood and hatred. His legacy is falsehood and hatred.
Of literally thousands of examples, one will suffice. The full 10 years of Netanyahu’s unbroken rule have been marked by inaction and broken promises to rescue the relatives of Ethiopian Israelis from starvation and threats of violence in Ethiopia. In recent days, however, a desperate Netanyahu sent word to newly elected MK Gadi Yevarkan that if the Ethiopia-born lawmaker agreed to desert his centrist opposition Kahol Lavan party and become the deciding 61st vote to ratify a new Bibi-led government, the prime minister would name him immigrant absorption minister.
The message to Yevarkan was clear: Agree to the deal, or the thousands of family members — some of whom have waited decades in Ethiopia for rescue to Israel — will remain as hostages to a government callous as concrete to their plight.
Under Netanyahu, Israel itself has come to stand for falsehood and hatred. His campaign could not have been more straightforward: Without exception, anyone who does not vote for him is of The Left and therefore a trafficker with Arabs, who are themselves, without exception, ardent backers of terror. All of them, Jew and non-Jew alike, are Uncitizens. They are not, cannot be, part of The People.
Except, of course, for those who vote instead for the Kahanists, the pedophile protectors, the subjugators and apartheidists and faux believers in the rule of law, who have all agreed to take his bribes and breach the public trust in return for backing the laws that will exempt him from going to trial and prison for bribery and breach of the public trust.
Yet, he clearly hates even the people who vote for him. In their company he is every bit as mirthless and forced and uncharitable and furious and condescending and explicitly uninterested in them — in victory — as he is in defeat.
A person without honor, it turns out, is a person without a people.
This is a man whose compassion — as he himself demonstrated during the recent election campaign — is confined entirely to himself, to his wife, and to his stay-at-home social media snot of an elder son.
An entire nation is seeing him, as though for the first time. All he asked, all his life, was to be his father’s son, and now, this sad, frustrated, underappreciated, bitter boy wonder with the sad, frustrated, underappreciated bitter father, remains frantic still to win the approval of the father, dead these seven long years.
At this point, even on the right, who can he count on — who is it that he hasn’t already bamboozled, betrayed, lied to or undermined?
That, it turns out, was the most revealing and perhaps only honest element of his fumbling, bizarre, Trump-hailing speech to the nation Monday night, in which he decried the hugely costly, altogether preposterous idea of holding new elections — after he himself had just put the country through a hugely costly, altogether preposterous early election whose only, only, only purpose — as every last Israeli, friend or foe, well knew — was to keep him out of jail.
The only honest element of the speech was the reason it was delayed. Netanyahu was busy conferring with the very symbol of his entire public life, the one man left he can trust: Natan Eshel.
Yes, Netanyahu’s disgraced, wholly disgraceful former chief of staff, the morose, vindictive, furtive, victim-threatening admitted in-house Prime Minister's Office sexual predator who managed, with the active aid of Benjamin and especially his admirer Sara Netanyahu, to evade criminal prosecution through a plea deal — the spirit of which he regularly and openly violates as a close adviser and errand boy for the Netanyahus. No penalty. No honor. No need.
And what has Eshel’s prime mission been in recent weeks? To cajole, to bribe, to try to blackmail Knesset members into abandoning their parties and their principles and cast that 61st vote.
Meanwhile, as his sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson continues to lose millions every month printing his Prime Minister’s Office-dictated Israel Hayom freebie tabloid, the paper pumps out banner headlines redefining Netanyahu’s backroom sleaze deals, his legislative Get Out of Jail Free Cards and his bid to legislatively annihilate the Supreme Court, as “THE RETURN OF DEMOCRACY” (May 18), meant only to “HONOR THE WILL OF THE VOTER” (May 29). That May 18 issue even went so far as to equate the proposed legislation with Old Testament justice itself, announcing, in a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 16:20, “IMMUNITY SHALT THOU PURSUE.”
Too lame, too late. Benjamin Netanyahu knows better than anyone that whatever happens now, however he weasels out of this one, we have come to know him for what he really is, and always was:
A failure. A fraud. A man of dishonor. In the broadest, most profound, most enduring of meanings, a loser.