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Israel's Own Con Man

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 21, 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 21, 2019. Credit: Moti Milrod

As long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was absent from the relevant media and would turn up only on Channel 20 and on Facebook, our imaginations worked overtime. Just let him fall into our hands, we said to ourselves, and we’ll cut him to pieces and turn him into kebab, we’ll expose his contract with Mephistopheles, we’ll say “shares,” we’ll say “Nathan Milikowsky,” and in front of him we’ll pull out what is probably the only picture we have of his cousin, seated on a throne and gazing into the distance.

His cousin looks identical to the figure of the Emperor in a deck of Tarot cards, the card that informs us that in order to develop in the spiritual world we must first of all succeed and establish ourselves in the material world. If only we do all that, we believed, Bibi will immediately turn into a greenish puddle with a frog in the middle croaking Bi-Bi, Bi-Bi.

>> Read more: Netanyahu dropped by for a surprise interview. He won't do it again | Analysis ■ 

Not so fast, all of you who are disappointed that none of that happened during the interview with Keren Marciano, which will be studied for years in schools for magicians and pickpockets. The only word that describes Bibi from head to toe is actually a word in English, the language in which he first emerged, the language that discovered him and that he discovered, the language in which he swims like a fish, and which is very familiar with fish like him.

It’s the word that Michael Cohen used (along with the words “racist” and “liar”) to describe his twin brother who was separated from him at birth, Donald Trump – “con man.” The man who acquires your confidence, with his fluent speech, his well-cut suit, his gestures and movements that surround you and draw you to him. A confidence man, the slippery liar whom you’re willing to trust with your wallet, and let him manage your bank account and keep an eye on your wife when you travel to the big business deal to which he himself sent you.

The con man was born on the streets of New York in the 19th century. He’s well dressed, carries a briefcase of fine imitation leather, and the first question he asks when he addresses you is, “Do you trust me?” You look at him. Clearly you trust him, because if you don’t that means that everything is a pretense, that you are also pretending, and after you reply in the affirmative, he tells you: “I’m off to an important meeting now, I have to make a good impression, I’m about to earn 14 million shekels (nearly $4 million) in the deal, your Doxa watch is the thing that will make all the difference – if you trust me and whether the deal is signed or not, and of course I’ll succeed, I’ll pay you 10 percent of everything I earn in the deal.”

You quickly calculate in your head how much money the 10 percent is worth, what you could do with it, and of course you believe him. You remove the expensive watch from your wrist and he disappears into the entrance of the luxury building on Fifth Avenue with the sign “Lehman Brothers,” where you happened to have met.

When it turns out that the con man has cheated you and you’re left penniless, you’re not angry at him; on the contrary, you feel sorry for him. In the final shot the two of you are sitting at a table in your small kitchen. Your wife has left you, the repo men have already taken everything, the furniture, even the tablecloth. You pour him a lukewarm, smoky filter coffee, and you place your hand on his trembling shoulders. He cries with you, your loss causes him greater sorrow than you yourself feel, and you find yourself consoling him.

So what did you expect, that the con man would melt in front of Keren Marciano, whose personality doesn’t contain even a single divine particle of con man? From the first moment, the ultimate con man has been pulling one over on us. The entrance, the bodyguards. He doesn’t respond to Marciano’s welcome, he has the expression of a victim, he won’t be reconciled with them so fast, he won’t take their watches, their fountain pens, their wallets immediately, and it will also take them a long time to discover that they have consoled him for robbing all of us.

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