Netanyahu Can Run (To Congress) but He Can't Hide

Netanyahu’s journey westward will be reminiscent of one in the other direction, that of Richard Nixon to the Middle East in 1974, a few weeks before he resigned in shame.

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 8, 2015. Credit: Alex Kolomoisky
Amir Oren
Amir Oren

Under the piercing gaze of Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl at the southern entrance of the city that immortalizes his name, a gas station promises an American car wash without scratches. Benjamin Netanyahu, scratched and plucked, wants that promised American car wash, no matter what.

Exhaustive reports are again expected on the tender between airlines for the honor of hosting the first couple and the husband’s bed, a small matter of half a million shekels, and this time with special additions: All the beverage bottles on the flight, and afterward all the bottles in the hotel and in Congress, will be declared official property of Sara Netanyahu. Their deposit will offset something from the drought tax on the lake of bottles, the private pool in Caesarea. It turns out that this expensive water, and not the heavy water of the Iranian nuclear reactors, is what bothered the Israeli prime minister.

In the first case, an injustice was done to Sara Netanyahu – putting all the responsibility for the couple’s outrageous financial behavior on her. Anyone who knew her husband during his second marriage with Fleur can attest to his consistent shirking from paying his private expenses, in hope that someone (in the embassy, government or restaurant) would cover the bill. As a proud member of a family of Bible Contest winners, Netanyahu certainly knows that the spine-tingling writing on the wall from the Book of Daniel (5:25) is coming true for him: Meni (Naftali) Meni (Yitzhaki, head of the Investigations and Intelligence Division), tekel u’pharsin,” God has numbered [the days of] your kingdom, you have been weighed and your kingdom has been given to the Persians.

In the meeting between the shekels and the Persians, the escape to Congress is a transparent attempt to distract attention.

One of the legends of the American people is that of representative democracy, which listens to the cries of the simple person and triumphs over the bloated establishment. James Stewart captures that spirit in Frank Capra’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” At the climax, Smith speaks for 24 hours to the Senate in a filibuster to stave off a malicious bill until he breaks the forces of evil, which admit their sins and surrender to innocence and purity.

And that’s all that Netanyahu wants – to stand before the joint session of Congress and turn the tables on Iran, and just like the noble Smith was portrayed by his enemies as corrupt, in a desperate attempt to knock him down, Netanyahu’s righteousness will burst forth, too, from the darkness.

But in reality, Netanyahu who wants to go to Washington is Mr. Humiliation, a prime minister entangled in a criminal affair, on the verge of being an official suspect, who pretends to represent the state in the American capital as if a black shadow didn’t hover over him like a raven. Such a man does not bring honor to his country, rather moral turpitude. His journey westward will be reminiscent of a journey in the other direction, that of Richard Nixon to the Middle East in 1974, just a few weeks before he was forced to resign in shame.

“I am not a crook,” Nixon declared. Congress was unimpressed. Netanyahu is not a crook until the courts rule otherwise, but neither does he shine a light unto the nations, because the light went out, and we are waiting for a certain electrician. The American politicians will be happy to embrace Netanyahu as a colleague and partner to financial excesses that destroy senior officials. Short is the distance from the flowery ceremony in the legislature to a convict’s outfit in a federal prison.

Suspects in a criminal investigation, who do not enjoy special treatment, are subject to limitations: separation between them lest they coordinate stories; arrest, or at least a weighty alternative; an injunction against traveling abroad. For the face of Israel not to be reviled next week, in affairs that accompany the speeches in Congress and AIPAC, and wherever Netanyahu turns, the right thing to do would be for him to place himself under house arrest and put a travel ban on himself. Indeed, he is more powerful on film.

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