Let's Meet at Six, Before the War

After eight years in office, it’s clear: We won’t go far, or even near, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For a moment it seemed we’d get as far as Tehran, but we were delayed in Shujaiyeh.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Defense Ministe Moshe Ya'alon watching a Golani Brigade exercise.
Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, Moshe Ya'alon, who did well in the primary. Credit: GPO
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

So many families can’t sleep for worrying. Quite a few families will never sleep again from the pain. I ask the forgiveness of all. And if you are angry with me, I will understand.

These are your leaders, Israel. They send soldiers to war and civilians — to shelters.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is a plodding man with hasty thoughts. While it’s true that “the best commentators” occasionally attribute him with wisdom and responsibility, they soon regret it. When people here attempt to extinguish fires, with the last of their water and their strength, he pulls out his giant hose and squirts oil. One might consider alternatives, but they are all scarier than plain bullying and blunt cynicism.

Moshe Ya’alon’s consciousness is also not sufficiently seared; there is something raw about it. As chief of staff, he prepared the Israel Defense Forces for the Second Lebanon War and decided that the missiles would rust; tens of thousands of rusted Hezbollah missiles then fell on us. As defense minister, he prepared the troops for the third Gaza war in a decade, and did not see the tunnels at the end of the red light. A mere 40 days ago, he shut down part of the army and silenced the aircraft engines. Lucky for us, Operation Protective Edge did not break out during the shutdown.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett both look like overgrown babies who are still enthralled by deep secrets. Who would not be thrilled when allowed for the first time to enter the secret chambers, and whose somber visage launches a thousand tanks.

But it is actually the one with the most seniority who’s the cause of the problem. After eight years in office, it’s clear: We won’t go far, or even near, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For a moment you might have thought we’d get as far as Tehran with him, but we were delayed in Shujaiyeh.

True, he was apprehensive about “the ground action,” but he is more afraid of peace. In war people fall, and it’s the end of their lives; in peace governments fall, and it’s the end of the world. If war breaks out, heaven forfend, we will all be united; if peace breaks out, heaven forfend, then we will quarrel and get mired in crisis. So why take unnecessary risks. Soon enough “the situation” will go back to how it was, and it was never better, like in the old days, and never will be, either.

If only Netanyahu had discovered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier and not remembered him too late; if only he had seen Abbas from the outset as an ally, not an enemy. If only the regional and the international front had turned toward reconciliation before the conflict. And had Netanyahu not dug a deep diplomatic hole, the hole would not now be filling with blood and the “most just war” would not have had to prove its justification daily. Only cannons waken Netanyahu from his four-season slumber. And when they fall silent, he immediately drifts back to sleep on the massage table of the status quo.

Do not ask “What do we do now?” if you didn’t listen before and in time, if you didn’t grab the opportunity by the horn, its tail will get away from you also. “Better late” could turn out to be too late, or even “never.”

If your want to keep talking nonsense and walking around in closed circles, Bibi’s your man. See you at six before the next war.

Israel does not have the luxury of having such a prime minister. A few more years with Bibi would be more years of missed opportunities and of grave danger. You don’t change horses, so they say, in midstream. But we are in a raging river and from this angle he doesn’t look anything like a horse to me.

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