Benjamin Netanyahu is convinced that we’ll miss him. He knows what the investigators are probing, he knows what the attorneys are checking. He feels the stranglehold tightening around his neck, so he’s preparing for the worst. He wants to tell his story before it is tainted. He has no doubt that if he is removed from power, the public will regret it. He has no doubt that he alone stands between Israel and its destruction.
Netanyahu’s world view is his father Benzion Netanyahu’s world view, which more or less maintains that reality is an arena of Darwinian wrestling among powers, in which the strong survives and the weak disappears. Values, emotions, manners and customs have no real importance. If you’re powerful, everyone will want to be close to you, even if they don’t like you. If you’re powerless, they’ll stick a knife in your back, even if they like you. The only key to survival is power, power and power.
However, according to both Netanyahu the elder, the historian, and Netanyahu the younger, the statesman, there are two kinds of people who don’t understand this basic fact: liberals and Jews. Hence, liberals tend to pursue foolish policy and Jews have no talent for statesmanship. Hence, Jewish liberals are especially loathsome people who grandstand while walking blindly on the dangerous paths of history’s forest. Depending on the left will bring another, final disaster upon the Jewish people.
This is why Netanyahu is convinced of his own greatness. In his view, the state he inherited two decades ago was on the brink of doom because of the futile Oslo agreements. In his view, the economy he inherited was small, shabby and closed. But during the years he was in charge, Israel has built up economic power, which financed its military power, which is increasingly turning it into a political power.
High-tech? Cyber? Water? Gas? You name it, Israel has it. The Israeli street cat of the ‘90s has become a muscular tiger. Palestinian terror was quashed, mass migration from Africa was blocked, the wars with the neighboring states have passed. And since Israel became a military and technological power, it is capable of making new alliances (China, Japan, India, Russia), breaking into new continents (Africa, South America) and becoming the sweetheart of the Arab world.
So according to Netanyahu, if we only broke free of the media distortion (Noni Mozes, publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth) and the ideological distortion (the left), we’d see that everything here is actually terrific. As long as Netanyahu is protecting our very existence, life here is in fact life in paradise.
Netanyahu’s picture of reality isn’t groundless. Not everything is bleak here and not everything is in shambles. Nor is the man sitting in the prime minister’s office a superficial, cynical or frivolous man. But Netanyahu’s picture of reality ignores two basic facts. One is that under his rule we are losing the Jewish majority, Jewish sovereignty, Jewish morality and the Jewish state. The other is that his rule is wearing down democratic values, democratic institutions, the democratic spirit and the democratic state.
Apart from that, everything may be fine. But without a Jewish state and a democratic state, there is no life, no future, nothing. So maybe it’s time the prime minister stopped despising liberal Jews so much. They may have quite a bit to learn from him, but he too has a lot to learn from them.
Power is important, but power isn’t the only force operating in history. Morality, fraternity, goodwill and spirituality are also necessary, and even the love of Israel and the unity of the people. In the absence of vision, the nation will fall apart. In the absence of a Jewish-democratic state, there will be no Zionism.
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