Netanyahu - Israel's Great Gulliverian Leader

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu illustrates his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions during a UNGA address, Sept. 27, 2012.Credit: AP

Watching his video clips on the news, hearing the moral authority he projects on the big issues, you say to yourself: No one could fit into his shoes, not even Yair Lapid. True, he made a bit of a fool of himself in the fight against the Iranian nuclear program, the threats against the world over Hamas, and Tehran’s tyrannical regime and its support of Yemen’s Houthis. He was hasty in quoting the democratic regime in Saudi Arabia. But his failure is rooted in the touching nostalgia for a Middle East in which only one army could take down a neighborhood in a few hours. ISIS is nothing. He is a giant.

He managed to instill in the world awareness of the Iranian nuclear program. And how many people have managed to percolate into the world’s consciousness? Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Kafka, Mother Teresa, Monica Lewinsky? So his cartoon bomb drawing was forgotten faster than the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. So what?

When you understand his greatness, every time he furrows his brow and talks to the people, only about the big issues, about our rights, our morality, even making the small issues seem hugely important, we are hugely content: Here we’ve got a judge and a jury, prisoners and jailors. Behind him, in every clip, there is the national flag and a state symbol, a “Likud” sign, or holy books in exquisite bindings, brand new, never opened, so that we remember where we come from, and primarily where we’re going. He’s serious, projecting the gravitas of history in every clip his office sends to the media, which its members, our little dwarves, dutifully broadcast.

He has no time for details, or interviews in Hebrew, aside from his baritone promises, “we know how to ensure our safety.” And “our rights.” Us. Him. Me. Then you’re filled with compassion, because you identify with flesh and blood, sweat on his brow, primarily when he’s in America. It truly isn’t his fault that he can’t get elected president there, simply because of the fact that he was born here, like us, not like Obama. It’s not his fault that he has to turn our system into a presidential one, and fast, with all kinds of undersecretaries: Hotovely, Danon, Regev, Bennett, and Kahlon who at the last moment remembered his gas tycoon friends, and Ya’alon who won’t deign to speak with the committee peeking into army pensions, and of course Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who’s aiming MK Moti Yogev’s bulldozer at the Supreme Court.

It’s not Netanyahu’s fault that they become smaller and smaller as he becomes giant, and as the governance vacuum gets larger – the gas deal, Locker commission, Supreme Court, housing prices, cost of living, peace process, terror and settlers – he expands within that vacuum, and fills our lives with video clips complete with flags and holy books, about our rights and thwarting terror. These clips give meaning to our lives – how would we manage to live here if we didn’t know we’re constantly at war, and that barbarians are at the gates. It’s not his fault that the opposition is led by a high school student whose parents got him a spot in the drama club, but instead of playing Kuni Lemel, the shlemiel, he plays Julius Caesar: “Revolution, revolution, revolution.”

Without solving the age-old dilemma about whether the conditions make the leader or the leader creates the conditions, you look at his government and you understand – he crumpled it all into a paper ball: the Broadcast Authority, the Foreign Ministry, the Communications Ministry – because he likes to fill the voids that he makes, and he really doesn’t know what to do there. Everything is small in comparison to him, save for greatness. And even though journalists and intellectuals are still trying to figure out where to kiss him, they’re all waiting in line to do so. As it is written: But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. In the meantime, we watch his clips, listen to the voice that makes clear that out all our problems will be solved, if we just keep waiting for the barbarians. And as Constantine Cavafy, the Greek poet, wrote “And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? They were, those people, a kind of solution.”

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