Looking Beyond 'Bibisms'

A 'Bibism' is an obsessive striving to be seen, photographed, and survive as 'the prime minister', without the talents and stature required for the position.

At this stage, at least, it seems that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes down in history, it will not be because of his lack of action but to a greater extent because of the unique mechanism that characterizes his leadership - the "Bibism." A "Bibism" is an obsessive striving to get to be, to be seen, to be photographed, and to survive as "the prime minister" without knowing exactly where to strive, and without the talents and stature required for the position.

This is a particularly striking achievement of a "Bibism" in light of the fact that Netanyahu's personal obsession has persuaded and overpowered wide circles of people, among these even the protest movement and his political enemies. His rivals too - whether because they were exhausted or because they themselves lacked that same obsession - not only paved the way for Netanyahu to a second term of office, despite a bad record that is repeating itself, but reconciled themselves with the very fact of his survival as a desired default situation.

Obviously there are people who support Netanyahu out of the belief that "he is a good prime minister," whatever that may mean. But numerous others - from those who vote for the center and left of the center, including the leaders of the protest movement - support the idea that he should continue in office out of the belief that, against his will, he will serve as a "useful idiot" (if we may borrow a phrase from a different political context ).

This belief holds that despite his best efforts to the contrary, Netanyahu will introduce a completely different economic policy from that which he believes in; and against his better judgment, owing to the circumstances and pressures, he will undergo a personality revolution in the diplomatic sphere as well and will lead Israel back to the 1967 borders and to peace with a Palestinian state.

This "pragmatic" approach rests on the possibly cynical, possibly naive, assumption that Netanyahu's longing to remain glued to his seat is so overwhelming that in order to achieve it he is capable of nullifying himself as a person and as a political animal in order to get another year or two in office.

It is interesting that the settlers and leaders of the right also support the prime minister in a similarly "pragmatic" manner even though he has already disappointed them in the past. More than they believe that Netanyahu believes in the Greater Land of Israel, they seem to believe that he will be capable of any diplomatic whim including restoring "the spirit of Masada," simply out of fear of losing political support and losing his position.

The irony therefore lies in the fact that Netanyahu's survival stems from his weakness and is made possible precisely because of the lack of faith in him and his motives. And there is yet another irony: It is precisely this politician who made a career out of taunting others, inciting and undermining the legitimacy of incumbent prime ministers, who has succeeded in entrenching himself behind a self-righteous, almost supra-political aura. Any attempt to topple him is described as "political," as if that was a derogatory word. It is simply thanks to this achievement that it is worth entering the "Bibism" in the bizarre political pantheon.

What does this resemble? A person who has bought from a deceitful salesman a pair of shoes that is overpriced, uncomfortable, ugly, falling apart, and two sizes too small for him, but who has the "pragmatic" hope that the shoes will become more comfortable, will change and will even change direction as the left shoe adjusts itself to the right foot and vice versa.

Needless to say, in this case there is no chance and no way. Netanyahu is no "idiot" - he is one of the best educated and polished of our elected representatives. But he is also not "useful" neither for the left nor the right. He simply does not fit his position - he doesn't have what it takes. And that is why the shoe must be exchanged, rather than the foot changed. Not only are the protest movement and concerned citizens allowed to be political and to demand that Netanyahu be toppled, just as he did to his predecessors - it is their right and duty to do so.