An interpretation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address
Citizens of Israel,
Yesterday morning I accompanied my younger son to the draft board. Avner followed in the footsteps of his big brother and will risk his life in the defense of Israel. He is no different than any other Zionist teen, and to show this in actual fact the best of the local and foreign media teams were summoned to the induction center; it did not occur to me to bid him farewell in the bosom of the family, and to spare the people of Israel and the entire world this scene. My wife Sara wiped away a tear. Together we said to him: Go in peace and return in security. This evening, I realized that unfortunately I do not have true partners in the current government in the concern for Israel’s security.
I couldn’t sleep last night. I tossed and turned and thought about my mentor and teacher, Menachem Begin. I remember him at the end of his short term in office, evading the leftist inciters who would lie in wait for him at the entrance to his home and shout their curses. Who, if not me, knows how it feels to be in a demonstration where the prime minister is called a murderer?
I want to tell you today what Begin said then: I can’t go on anymore. Citizens of Israel, I can no longer lead a government of weak subversives, who prevent me from transferring the billions intended for the purchase of Iron Domes and armored personnel carriers. Following the latest survey on Channel 10 and the momentous blink of the great Torh scholar Shteinman, I decided to move up the election. I am sure I can establish a broad coalition, which will be based on the national camp and its natural partners, in addition to the ultra-Orthodox factions.
My rivals in the government say I am a threat to democracy. I say to them: Look who’s talking. Those people trying to close down a free, independent newspaper in Israel; who stole 25 Knesset seats from the voters of the left and center and joined my extreme right-wing government; who repeatedly vote for imprisoning African asylum-seekers without trial; who scribbled all sorts of nation-state bills – they are going to talk to me now about democracy?
I even know what they will say when they join me in the next government: that they will have more influence inside than they will outside, that without them it will be much worse. Until then they will criticize me, saying I do nothing. They always said about me that at least I don’t dare set out on major wars. But I did. Now I, too, have an accursed and pointless war in my resume, of the kind one sets out on without goals and returns with casualties.
I recently found myself in the sweaty locker room of our national soccer team. I was the first to see that there was a chance that evening for a rare victory, with the first whiff of primaries. I will not deny it – I had my doubts. But my wife Sara said the same thing she said during the Carmel fire and the storm in Jerusalem: Go over there, Bibi. I watched the game with my son Avner from an isolated, reinforced glass booth, like a regular person. You know what the fans sang from the bleachers? They sang Hatikva, not the Palestinian national anthem and nothing about a democratic state or a state of all its citizens. We are a small country surrounded by enemies and challenges. I will not let anyone stop me from failing to deal with them.
I know where my opponents on the left will try to drag this election. They will talk about the cost of living, the poverty line, the housing shortage. I ask them: What is better, for a young couple not to dream about an apartment of their own because they don’t have the money for a mortgage, or because a missile fell on it? People say all I want is power. There is no bigger lie. I simply want to get the job done. I brought you the threat of terror, of the Iranian bomb, of the infiltrators, of the Arab Spring, of the rejectionist groups, of the tunnels, of the missiles, of ISIS, of European anti-Semitism and of the Palestinian Authority. The work is not done and I am determined to carry it on.
I want to end on a personal note. My son Avner came back this year from a school trip to the extermination camps in Poland. As befits a cyber-power, a photo of him wrapped in an Israeli flag at Auschwitz-Birkenau was posted that very day on the Facebook page of Israel’s prime minister. That reminded me of my last visit to that accursed place. “Never again,” I wrote in the visitors book. Never again. Citizens of Israel, I have always believed in uncompromising sincerity. I can promise you nothing but blood, sweat and tears, and yet, we must not lose hope. Our strength is in our unity. Let us march together into the sunset; the worst is yet to come.
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