Stop Israel's Political Pyromaniac

Next March’s election will give Israelis the chance to deliver a vital message to Benjamin Netanyahu: Go home, you’ve done enough damage already.

Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 4, 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, December 4, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus

No one knows why Yair Lapid grew a beard last month. Was it the folly of youth, or an attempt to see how the country looked to the ultra-Orthodox?

Judging by the speed with which he shaved it off, it seems he was frightened by what he saw when Aryeh Deri jumped into the political arena and even shook Benjamin Netanyahu’s hand in the Knesset; maybe some big political scheme was in the making.

But he was not politician enough to realize the extent of the humiliation he would face when he was fired from his position, as if he were a mere contract worker.

Netanyahu brought Lapid down when he gave him the Finance Ministry portfolio, which was too much for him. And this week, for the second time, Netanyahu did to Lapid what the late Yitzhak Rabin would have called a targil masriah – a “dirty trick.”

The heads of Yesh Atid claimed long ago that the prime minister was dragging the country toward an election, that “everything was stuck” and Likud was in trouble. But they went with their noses in the air, never imagining that they were being tricked.

Netanyahu’s nervous fidgeting, the way he straightened his tie every few seconds, his restless march to his office every day accompanied by an entourage of assistants, advisers, ministers, security guards and photographers – it brought to mind the Bibi of his first term. A hero-coward, a coward-hero. He was defeated back then in 1999, and not all that honorably.

If an alien from another planet were to visit us these days, he would probably ask himself: What? Netanyahu’s still here? What’s going on with Israel? How did this nice, tiny country – whose values and survival abilities were so admired by most of the world – morph into a monster that is endangering everyone’s welfare?

Because of the internal political incidents of our fanatical pyromaniacs and the wars of the Jews, we never noticed what was happening to our country: Its declining relations with Europe, and how it turned its back on those Arab countries that are ready to discuss an agreement.

What we are doing – and, mostly, not doing – in the territories is our biggest fiasco. We are throwing matches into our neighbors’ oil fields instead of trying to reach an agreement with them. Our leadership is busy dealing with the substance found in babies’ diapers – excuse the expression – instead of matters that are of existential interest to Israel.

Israel existed as a Jewish state for 60 years without any nation-state law. Those who wish to wipe it off the map will not study its laws first. It is not clear what made Netanyahu decide, all of a sudden, to invent a problem where none had existed before.

Israel is a Jewish state because of its Hebrew language, because it has a blue and white flag with a Star of David, because it has an army whose official title is the Israel Defense Forces. Menachem Begin used to omit the word “defense” to avoid giving the impression that only the Haganah, and not Etzel or Lehi, had been among those who founded the state – imagine someone trying to pass a “founders of the state” law.

After all, political stupidity knows no bounds when the government is headed by an extremist who looks for excuses not to reach an agreement.

The nation-state law infuriated the friends we still have left in the world. The New York Times wrote that it was heartbreaking to see the law – which ensures national rights only to Jews – being approved. Why was this law so important to Netanyahu? He wished to show the Likud convention that he was just as extreme as the fanatics within it.

Netanyahu, who is afraid to fire Deputy Transportation and National Infrastructure Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who goes up and down the steps to the Temple Mount, acts like a big hero when it comes to President Barack Obama.

Israel’s foreign policy is paralyzed. Parliament after parliament around the world is recognizing the State of Palestine. The government did not lift a finger when a proposal was made to hold a regional peace conference.

Netanyahu did nothing to promote a solution to urgent national problems; instead, he made our situation in the world even worse, brought us to the verge of a new intifada, did not advance a peace agreement with the Palestinians by a single millimeter, and cut economic processes prematurely.

The calling of an early election has its source in his feeling that he was ill-treated, that people tried to subvert him and overthrow him. As in his first term, Netanyahu is a dangerous political pyromaniac and voters must tell him: You have done all you could do, and not for our good. Enough already! Go home.

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