I think I've solved the riddle of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hedonism. He hates – perhaps even loathes – the journalists who are hounding him, who keep on complaining about such prime ministerial expenses as pistachio ice cream (10,000 shekels – $2,846); a double bed for a flight to London; a luxury hotel suite; a water utility bill of 80,000 shekels ($22,766) for the Netanyahus’ private home in Caesarea; scented candles (6,000 shekels – $1,707); ergonomic exercise bikes; a step counter; a standard breakfast costing 213 shekels ($61) per person; and the almost negligible fact that the expenses for the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem are nearly double what they were when Ehud Olmert was PM.
“They [the journalists] are conducting a political witch hunt against me,” Netanyahu probably complains. “Here I am, defending the Jewish people from a disastrous peace agreement, from an Iranian nuclear bomb and from African infiltrators [migrant workers]. Yet all my efforts in this regard are angering these leftists who have long since forgotten what it means to be a Jew, and what it means to live like a Zionist.
"Therefore, I will not change my course of behavior. In fact, I will teach them a lesson they will never forget. In response to their screaming bloody murder over my utility bill, I will use the money they pay in taxes in order to buy myself a private jet, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars, and build a new palace in the Government Complex in Jerusalem, near the Bank of Israel, that will cost hundreds of millions of shekels. Perhaps that's the way to show them I couldn't care less what they think, and then perhaps they'll learn to just leave me alone.
“The private jet will have a luxury bedroom with a double bed adorned by a canopy; two washrooms with a pampering bathtub; an American-style kitchen complete with a flying chef; ice-cream bar with all the flavors one can imagine (including, of course, pistachio); and an entire team that will serve just me. And Sara. Perhaps I will invite some of those journalists for a guided tour in my jet – so they will just burst with envy.
“As a salute to Herod, the new palace I build will be a huge complex, designed like a space station, and it will house the Prime Minister’s Office, adjacent to my own private residence, which will include two kitchens, breathtaking boardrooms, underground air-raid shelters, private gym and synagogue. It will cost something in the region of 600 million shekels ($170.1 million). And this is a far cry from what I really deserve.”
In order to realize all these plans, Netanyahu this week created a “public committee” to consider the private jet project, and another committee to investigate the palace project.
In 2009, when then Prime Minister Olmert declared his own plans for building a similar palace, Netanyahu – at the time, leader of the opposition in the Knesset – announced that, if elected prime minister, he would shelve these plans and utilize the money for discharged soldiers and the elderly. Today, it seems he couldn't care less about either those soldiers or the elderly.
It looks like the committee he's appointed to examine the private jet project will present him with the precise recommendations he wants. To meet this goal, he has handpicked Eliezer Goldberg (a retired Supreme Court Justice and one-time state comptroller); former Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Ido Nechushtan; and Iris Stark, a certified public accountant.
It would appear that he chose these people very carefully. For example, Stark is a veteran member of Likud and a close friend of the prime minister and his wife. In the past, Netanyahu has appointed her to serve in various posts, and her job on this task force will seemingly be to provide professional backing for the purchase of the jet. After all, she is a CPA.
Netanyahu did not choose economists for his committee who know how to carry out a thorough cost-effectiveness analysis – economists such as former Finance Ministry director general Prof. Avi Ben-Bassat or Prof. Omer Moav, winner of the Landau Prize for science and research in 2012. These two are probably too independent-minded.
Actually, Netanyahu himself is well aware that the private jet is a gargantuan expense. It will fly infrequently and, consequently, the cost of each flight will be many times that of a flight with Israel’s national carrier, El Al, or the country’s second largest airline, Arkia. The reason is that the usual expenses of flying will be spread over only a small number of flights.
In addition, the prime minister’s private jet will undergo continual renovations and upgrades in accordance with the demands of the royal couple. An entire team of managers, engineers, technicians and officials will make a nice living from all these renovations and upgrades – especially when, from time to time, the prime minister orders a new jet to replace the one that has become slightly worn.
However, all the above is really not that important. The main thing is the sweet revenge. The pygmy journalists will roar with anger, while Netanyahu will dip his toes in his airborne bathtub, licking pistachio ice cream and pissing on everyone from Israel Air Force One.
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