Netanyahu and Other Signs

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Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 13, 2019.
Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 13, 2019.Credit: AFP

1. “What I’m lacking is a clear, sharp statement from all of Kahol Lavan’s chiefs that they accept the president’s blueprint,” Avigdor Lieberman said, referring to Reuven Rivlin’s proposal to break the deadlock and achieve a rotating premiership for Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu.

What do you say? Maybe he’ll also demand that Kahol Lavan’s Yair Lapid wear a floral dress and that Gabi Ashkenazi put on lipstick for the occasion? Lieberman’s aggressiveness isn’t only related to the political stalemate that Israel is in. It also relates to the fact that anyone here who embraces liberal rhetoric is seen as weak, even if, like Gantz, he’s a former army chief.

The only way to stand next to Netanyahu and his colleagues and still look like a man is by not being liberal. That’s Lieberman’s luck, and the masculinity of anyone who has a background with a right-wing or criminal worldview is protected. It’s another possible explanation for “the left wing’s problem.” Being left-wing became synonymous with femininity. Men are right-wing.

2. Among the nonsense that the prime minister’s son Yair Netanyahu dished out on Twitter last week, there was one compassionate item. “Just a fact that everyone besmirching the prime minister should know,” Netanyahu Jr. wrote. “He’s 70 years old. The last time he slept was two days ago, and that was for two hours.”

The son’s open concern for his father’s well-being is heartwarming. The time has come for the father to pay the son back in kind. From week to week, Yair has been sounding louder and louder alarm bells. It’s just a matter of common sense to see that these are cries for help. Last week, in response to criticism of his father by a grandson of Yitzhak Rabin, Yair tweeted a video of the assassinated prime minister and added: “Regards from Grandpa.”

Netanyahu Jr. can also cross off his to-do list anti-Semitic caricatures that have been gleefully spread around neo-Nazi websites. One can only wonder what depths he’s capable of sinking to before he finally gets the appropriate parental attention. What’s left? Swindling Holocaust survivors by phone? Imitating dying concentration camp inmates? What more does he have to do before his father understands that Yair needs a full-time dad?

3. In straight-talking remarks at this month’s ceremony marking the anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, in effect: It’s not all right to kill a prime minister, but in my opinion, he was nuts. The memorial session at the Knesset began with a moment of silence, after which Edelstein said that “the dreams of peace pursued through the Oslo Accords were daydreams.”

Make no mistake, this thing that the right is doing by vindicating Rabin amid allegations that he was a traitor and then portraying him as a senile grandfather who left home for a daily stroll and got lost in the Norwegian capital is the same as labeling Rabin and his colleagues “Oslo criminals.” It’s all designed to deny the incitement that led up to the assassination and to rewrite the history of the political discourse that produced Rabin’s assassin.

There are no limits to the hypocrisy and pretense of innocence. How was he mistaken? In not taking into account the extent of domestic opposition from those who concluded that Oslo was a mistake after they did all they could to scuttle it?

4. Are the psycho-political conditions ripe for a trans-Atlantic swap of Netanyahu for Donald Trump? The two sides are in on the deal. Back in 2015, Sara Netanyahu was heard saying that in the United States, people say that if her husband had been American-born, he would have been elected president of the United States.

Last week it turned out that Trump is fine with the idea, reportedly saying that in Israel he has the support of 98 percent of Israelis and that if something happens in the U.S., he can become prime minister of Israel. What does it say that there are complementary fantasies in the United States and Israel about swapping leaders? And who should be more concerned about this Judeo-American symbiosis? Israelis? The American people? The Jewish people?

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