Imagining a World Without Netanyahyu

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in his official residence, Jerusalem, Israel, April 1, 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in his official residence, Jerusalem, Israel, April 1, 2019. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Imagine a world without Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s not too hard to do – a world without hell burning beneath our feet, without the madness that surrounds us. To shut your eyes a moment and imagine him disappearing from our lives. After all, we were here before him and we shall remain here after him, and he isn’t really from here, he didn’t intend to be here. His wife has already declared that they would leave the country and that it can crash and burn if it dares to replace him. She’s one who knows what she’s talking about.

After all, Netanyahu immigrated here like his parents, joining a large family that never expressed a lot of interest in the Zionist project. He even changed his name to make it easier for Americans to do business with him. There’s nothing really Israeli about him. This factor explains why he has attracted the support of so many Israelis. Netanyahu is a historic accident, an accident that happened to the country and they simply cannot take their eyes off this accident.

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Imagine a world without a divine king, one who’s above the law and the rules and takes instructions only from Sheldon Adelson and Nathan Milikowsky. Many of us aren’t even capable of imagining the State of Israel surviving without him. What will we do, they wonder, how shall we continue to live here among all the Arabs who only want to kill us? Who would speak to Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, who would persuade the president of Brazil to open a business office in Jerusalem and the president of Guatemala to move the embassy here?

They aren’t stupid or bad, they’re simply weakened. Imprisoned in an Erdogan-like, North Korea-like reality. A system of propaganda and brainwashing has turned them into prisoners of war. The result, in effect, has been the creation of a royal regime, complete with palaces, overseas trips and entire lives paid for by the state, a court of whisperers, a controlling, capricious queen, and a crazy heir who pulls the strings and calls police investigators the Gestapo. This is what this election is really about, a choice between democracy and royalty. 

Imagine a world with a normal prime minister. Just a person with strengths and weaknesses. A human being. Not an actor, not a machine, not a god. Just a prime minister. A person who didn’t appoint himself as defense and foreign minister and empty the cabinet of all meaning, who has even stopped convening the security cabinet. A person with deputies and alternates. Not a “world-renowned brand” as Yisrael Katz, one of his groveling ministers, described him this week on the radio.

All this is intended to broadcast a single, unified message: There’s nobody else besides him. Nobody can replace him. But of course someone could. You only have to use your imagination.

Imagine a world not fueled by hatred, without “davka Netanyahu” as fuel, without the engines of atomization and division. Without this terrible noise, the “battering compressor” as Amos Oz once aptly described it. Since then, the compressor has become a drilling field. Its roars are deafening, with its endless digging into the putrid depths.

Imagine a prime minister of all the state’s citizens, even those who did not vote for him. Who doesn’t exclude Arab citizens, who doesn’t wildly incite against the “left.” Who doesn’t run in the election against a chief of staff who served as his subordinate and won his praises and even an extension of his term of office, and yet is suddenly presented as a weak, unstable, irrational man and sexual harasser, supporter of terrorists, an existential threat.

Imagine a prime minister who doesn’t attack the president, who doesn’t dig up dirt and look for material against his political rivals and their spouses. Who doesn’t exploit his power and invest most of his time in taking control over the media. Who doesn’t set up his own free lunches or a Jewish heritage channel or Likud TV, who doesn’t invite a potty-mouthed tweeter with a polluted keyboard to his official residence and shake his hand against the backdrop of Likud posters.

Perhaps we have sinned, messed up, taken the wrong path. But we deserve more. We are worth more than this. Now shut your eyes. Just imagine. You can call me a dreamer, but this could happen someday, and we aren’t alone. Good morning, Israel.

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