Time to Get Netanyahu Out of Our Sight

Bibi the magician is disappearing, and Labor is reviving; let's not let this chance of getting rid of Netanyahu slip between our fingers.

Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) lights Hanukkah candles during a press conference at the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem, on December 17, 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) lights Hanukkah candles during a press conference at the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem, on December 17, 2014.Credit: AFP
Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus

The United States has used its veto to save Israel from damaging resolutions in the United Nations Security Council 50 times, and given Israel a hundred billion dollars in the form of defense aid. Write it down: That is what Israel received. Not Bibi. This did not happen thanks to Bibi, but rather in spite of him. He lied to Kerry, he annoyed Obama, he worked against the Obama administration by employing crude incitement in Congress. Nixon’s enemies, who said they would not buy a used car from the former president, would not buy one from Benjamin Netanyahu either.

Bibi’s great accomplishment, at least according to one television program, was to “get a double mattress onto a 707 aircraft” (when he flew to London in May, 2013 the prime minister requested the plane be fitted with a resting room that included a double bed, at taxpayers’ expense). Previously our prime ministers walked on tiptoe next to American presidents, and for the most part acted with integrity. Peace with Egypt was accomplished because of an honest prime minister, Menachem Begin, and an American president who admired that quality in the leaders of the time. Obama was impressed with Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan speech, in which he endorsed a two-state solution, but only until he found out that Bibi did not mean what he said. Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz is now selling the prime minister as a leader with experience. But with any more of this dubious experience, we will be completely lost.

Many of those who trusted or admired Bibi have been let down. The best proof of this is Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. It is true that Bibi was the one who created Lieberman, just as Moshe Arens created Bibi. If Arens had not discovered Benjamin Nitai and recruited him to serve as a political attache at Israel’s embassy in Washington (when Arens was Israel’s ambassador there), there would be no Bibi. Both men have since cast doubt on his judgment. As foreign minister, Lieberman has harsh criticism of the way Bibi ran Operation Protective Edge. “One cannot say no, no and no all the time. One has to know how to say yes, too, when the whole world is against us.”

Lieberman says that the Foreign Ministry’s public-relations budget is lower than that of ads for Milky pudding snacks. Milky, shmilky. Bibi flies to Rome to plead with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for a veto on the UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to Israel’s occupation. Even if Netanyahu is successful in this bid, that will not be the victory of his life. He is fighting the fight of his life now. He is pulling out all the tricks from the hat because he has run out of rabbits. Country after country is recognizing the Palestinian state, while Bibi’s Israel is portrayed like South Africa during its cruel apartheid era. If even Lieberman says that the time of autism is over and one cannot say no all the time, then imagine how low Bibi has sunk. The main thing is that he accuses the Europeans of not having learned a thing from the Holocaust.

We have to admit that something important has happened in Israel: Bibi the magician is disappearing. It did not take much for former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar to be crowned as a contender against him; Moshe Kahlon, who left Likud to form his own party, is gaining strength, and Labor is reviving under Isaac Herzog and Hatnuah party leader Tzipi Livni. As a long-time political reporter, I must admit that it has been a quite a while since I have seen a sight as refreshing and hopeful in the dormant Mapai as the connection between these two political figures who have agreed to lead the government in rotation, if elected. It is as if they both downed a double portion of Red Bull. Even former Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich graciously accepted the new duo with encouraging words.

Livni, who is not known for her humor, proved the truth of the Yiddish proverb that if God wills it, even a broom can shoot like a gun. In her excellent guest appearance on the Channel 2 satirical TV show Matzav Ha’uma (“State of the Nation”), she was not only funny, but also gave us hope that we have reached a time when even humor can be an effective political weapon. (Among other things, Livni said that “Isaac and I decided to take out the garbage together,” hinting that Netanyahu was the trash.) Nowhere is it written that Mapai speeches must be boring. Even Churchill was not embarrassed to say, upon being defeated by Clement Attlee: “An empty taxi drove up to 10 Downing Street, and out of it stepped Clement Attlee.”

Tzipi outdid herself. That’s not at all typical for a new Mapainik. Some were critical of her quip. They make the same complaint against this writer: “You are too much against Bibi; enough already.” Bibi is looking for responses like that. He wants people to start feeling sorry for him. We must not let him do that. The time has come for him to get out of our sight.

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