Netanyahu, a Sad Reflection of Homo Israelus

Eyal Megged
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Eyal Megged

I would be pleased if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would go the way of Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and publish an article briefly explaining his moves over the past few days. And why not take it all the way, why not repeat Danon’s ending to his article: “That’s the way I am.” That’s the way I am, not a statesmen of the premier league, but a neighborhood wheeler-dealer. That’s the way I am, not a leader who makes history, just a hotheaded braggart. And I know what I’m doing, because the fact is I got where I am by doing these very things.

For a moment it seemed Netanyahu had finally caught the breeze of the times and unfurled a sail. Perhaps for lack of choice, with the sourness that expresses the weight of the responsibility he bears – but unfurled nevertheless. Suddenly he understands what is at stake: regional chaos or a new order that will arise from the creation of the new conditions. It seemed he was suiting himself to the new situation in Syria, Egypt and Iran and understanding that it is not necessarily to his detriment, on the contrary; and that besides shoot-from-the-hip, meaningless statements, there are other ways of showing strength.

It seemed that perhaps now Netanyahu’s true stature would be revealed, his unquestionable ability to take the bull by the horns. But no; as has been the case again and again, the Danon takes over. He doesn’t ask himself, what am I doing, but rather, what would Danon do? Otherwise I might not be reelected head of the apartment house residents’ committee. Because there’s no doubt, that is what Danon would have done after the murder of the soldier in Hebron – with a hue and cry he would surround the Tomb of the Patriarchs with a Jewish neighborhood, based on Master Plan 38 – as a tried and true solution for earthquakes. A day later he instructs our mission at the United Nations to show its absence during the Persian’s speech. (“What’s the name of the ayatollah in the turban, the one whose greeting to the Jews I manfully said did not impress me?”)

By any civilized standard, the instruction to leave the General Assembly was primitive and infantile, and the only good thing that came out of it was that Finance Minister Yair Lapid took a stand and responded correctly. Let’s hope he continues this way. But with all due respect to discussion of the prime minister’s character, he is not the problem. Like Israeli soccer, he is not a disgrace in and of himself, but rather a reflection of homo israelus and as such, his responses reflect the Israeli personality: lack of respect for others, impatience, suspicion, unjustified conceit, and primarily arrogance, decapitated by the first little failure.

That is the secret of Netanyahu’s persistence in government: He expresses, unfortunately, the yearnings of most Israelis. He does not march at the head of the camp, but rather is dragged along behind it. He does not hearken to an internal voice, but rather to the voice of the masses. Or the voice of Danon. And let us assume that the spirit would alight on Netanyahu in his sukkah and he would arrive early in New York, announcing that he, himself, would be present during the Iranian leader’s speech – what would have happened then? Should he ask the minister of history or the back room operator of history? Should he ask himself, or Danon?

Illustration of Benjamin Netanyahu and Danny Danon.Credit: Amos Biderman

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