The rumblings ahead of the election of Israel’s next president have already begun. The machers are doing their thing, the “base” is heating up, the retinue of lawyers is busy scheming. And delicate souls are already wrinkling their noses in disgust and muttering, “What? Bibi? For president?” To which I reply: Yes. Bibi. For president. He deserves it. We deserve it.
Remember, the main role of the president is to be a symbol, or a “symbolizer,” as Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann succinctly described it. To symbolize the state, its vision, its values, its virtues. Could anyone else possibly compare to Bibi when it comes to symbolizing this country? Just like him, it plays the victim, is corrupt, cynical, arrogant, malicious, racist, mendacious, cunning, aggressive, greedy, susceptible to bribery, conflicted, hypocritical, self-righteous, cruel, treacherous, hedonistic and suspected of criminal actions. So similar are the two that, in the twilight, it’s quite hard to distinguish between the symbolizer and the symbolized.
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In short, Bibi is the ultimate presidential prospect.
But besides the fact that he’s a perfect fit for national symbol, my support for his presidential candidacy also derives from deep concern for the Israeli public’s sanity. This appointment, it is said, could save Benjamin Netanyahu from the clutches of justice. And then, perhaps, we could finally have a little peace and quiet around here. A little calm. A balm for the soul and respite for the ears. No more endless hours of studio broadcasts with shouters and whisperers, commentators and prophets of doom. No more bonehead blathering from a parade of psycho-mathematicians constantly calculating preposterous potential coalitions. No more would-be political alchemists droning on and on about how to magically transform a pile of straw into a government, or vice-versa.
Nothing terrible will happen if we get to enjoy a little quiet. Anyway, with or without Bibi, nothing is really going to change around here. The path Israel is caught in, like cattle being herded in a certain direction in a slaughterhouse, won’t suddenly change into a highway to happiness. The process of rot and disintegration will continue, whether Netanyahu is in the President’s Residence, in Ma’asiyahu Prison or is keeping the courthouses tied up with many more years of legal wrangling.
And we also ought to acknowledge that there aren’t many Churchills among the contenders for the crown. Or de Gaulles. Not even any Kemal Ataturks. So what does it matter who the person is who will lead us?
The self-appointed guardians of law and justice will surely be outraged by this whole idea. “What about the appearance of justice? Equality before the law? Paying one’s debt to society?” Let me reassure them: If Netanyahu is convicted in court, he’ll be sentenced to two or three years in prison, max. Which would be automatically reduced by a third, and he might also obtain a pardon.
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But if he is appointed president, he’ll be sentenced to seven long years of imprisonment in the golden aquarium in Talbieh. No way to get a third of his time knocked off. No chance of a pardon. Cut off from all the scheming he so loves. Required to be transparent in all his actions. Locked in a cage with his beloved wife and darling son. Without a separate, far-off office to escape to each morning and hide in until the evening. The most he could look forward to would be shaking thousands of sweaty hands at the entrance to the presidential sukkah.
So no one should be surprised if, after one brutal year in the President’s Residence, Bibi confesses all his deeds and begs for a year or two of rest in Ma’asiyahu. To which the court will coolly respond: “No way, buddy. You will serve out your entire sentence here, in the President’s Residence, until the very last day.”
Could anything be more just than that?