Opinion

How Lucky We Are to Have Netanyahu Around

File photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the press in Jerusalem, Israel, May 30, 2019.
Ariel Schalit / AP

Anyone who heard what the head of the Israeli army’s Intelligence Corps, Gen. Tamir Heyman, said about the Russians this last week might get confused and think he was describing Benjamin Netanyahu’s modus operandi. Heyman spoke of Russia’s dominance in the region and said that it is partly initiating the creation of conflicts and “seeks to be relevant to their solutions through its presence in the region.”

The appointment of Amir Ohana as justice minister during the transition government is a classic example of the way Netanyahu created a conflict only to proof his relevance by providing a solution. In the first stage, Netanyahu fed rumors about the candidacy of Bezalel Smotrich, the ultra-nationalist homophobe from the Union of Right-wing parties, for justice minister. Netanyahu lets everyone believe that Smotrich is the leading candidate for the job and that there is a close race between him and Yariv Levin, the outgoing tourism minister and one of the prime minister’s confidants.

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Netanyahu fires Ayelet Shaked from the position, and Smotrich is convinced that the job is his. He is so sure of himself that he allows himself to reveal his true intentions: “I want the State of Israel to operate according to the Torah.” 

 The country starts to panic and is sure it’s all over, and that soon there will be gender apartheid. And then Netanyahu bursts forth – how lucky to have him around(!) – to mediate between the sides in the conflict that he himself created. “Israel will not be a Halakhic state,” he announces, subduing with one brief sentence the anxiety he himself caused. 

Eventually, he appoints someone who is openly gay to be justice minister, and Likud officials justifiably say that the state of Halakha will not be. What kind of a demiculo state of Halakaha is this, in which the wife of the justice minister is named Alon Hadad? Of course no who cares that it’s a transition government, and that Ohana can forget advancing legislation benefiting the LGBT community if they want Haredim in the coalition?

The ongoing conflict is all that matters – always walking the thin tightrope between sanity and craziness, between success and disaster, between war and peace, between the Bar-Ilan speech and annexation, between the death penalty for terrorists and releasing 1,027 security prisoners for Gilad Shalit, between the expulsion of so-called infiltrators and the agreement with the UN to absorb asylum- seekers, between racist incitement against Israeli Arabs and the decision to allocate 15 billion shekels to the community, between the war on terror and providing millions of dollars to Hamas.

The negotiations he held with Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay in his attempt to establish a government is an additional proof that Netanyahu’s war against the High Court of Justice serves him and and not that he serves the war. The High Court is the key player in Netanyahu’s doctrine of eternal combat; it is here to repel all the legislative attempts that Netanyahu’s impassioned rhetoric encourages, and it is there for Netanyahu to incite against each time it does its job.

The override bill? Without the High Court of Justice, Netanyahu’s combat doctrine collapses. Governance is the last thing that Netanyahu wants, for his rule is limited to balancing acts and putting the brakes on the possibility of movement and governance, and a perfect formulation of excuses for everything they didn’t let him do. What a wonderful world he could build, if they would only give him back the power they stole from him.