As the Election Approaches, Bibi Is Using His Mouse Brain

It’s not clear whether we knew that an acclaimed Iranian general was among the target group in Syria, but we have a prime minister who isn’t exactly a leader.

Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, Dec. 8, 2014.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, Dec. 8, 2014.Credit: Reuters
Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus

It’s not the norm in this country to write headlines based on a phrase in a foreign language, but when foolishness and irresponsibility reign, I’ll deviate from the norm.

Cabeza de raton means “mouse brain” in Ladino. As will be made clear later, it isn’t exactly a compliment, especially when it refers to a leader who makes life-and-death decisions rashly out of personal considerations during an election campaign.

Hundreds or thousands of pieces of intelligence cross the desks of the country’s leaders every day, and each is an enormous temptation. When Jibril X. or Mohammed Y. moves from this place to that on such and such a date, the people in charge face an enormous temptation: Should they take action or not?

If the operation succeeds they win applause, if it fails it could result in the deaths of dozens or even hundreds of people. The birds of revenge reach everywhere on earth.

In our case, it’s not clear whether we knew that an acclaimed Iranian general, a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guard, was among the target group in Syria. But that’s the difference between a leader who’s a responsible statesman and a prime minister who isn’t exactly a leader.

Back when Ariel Sharon and Rafael Eitan served as ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s first government and there were fears Iraq was preparing to attack Israel with missiles, the government distributed gas masks to our panic-prone population. Bibi panicked too and asked that we examine the “protocol” for using unconventional weapons.

A shocked Sharon told me at the time, “You won’t believe it, the two old men [him and Eitan] saved the country. We warned Bibi that even looking into it would bring America down on us. Bibi’s response was, ‘I was just asking.’”

And this week we’re apologizing for having assassinated an Iranian general plus a few Hezbollah operatives plus Jihad Mughniyeh, son of Imad. It’s pretty embarrassing that we have to apologize to Iran, both publicly and through other channels, for fear that vengeance won’t be long in coming.

Who’s responsible for the fact that we’ve turned the north into a panic zone? Who’s responsible for the fact that following the Gaza war we didn’t exploit the chance to launch talks on an agreement with Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah? Who’s responsible for the fact that we’re going to be investigated by the International Criminal Court? Who decided that we had to assassinate Mughniyeh Jr., who looks like such a nice boy and is the darling of Iran’s leaders?

In the United States, the president is commander in chief of the armed forces. What Israelis call the chief of staff, Americans call the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. In Israel, the government is the army’s headquarters; it’s the one that decides whether to go to war or not.

In other words, the prime minister is the one that decides who will do what when. So you don’t have to pay too much attention to the political breakups and party primaries. The question is, who’s the person running the country?

Who’s the person capable of running a country without corruption; a country that doesn’t mortgage its future for the sake of the settlements; a country whose prime minister doesn’t tangle with America, our most important friend, and doesn’t start fights between the president and Congress; a country that doesn’t descend into corruption?

The question is the alternative. A well-known campaign manager said he didn’t see the Labor Party winning; the people with money won’t stomach the policies of Labor’s candidate for finance minister, Manuel Trajtenberg.

Meanwhile, people have started to hate Tzipi Livni because of the rotation deal for the premiership, and because she abandoned her party colleagues. In the experts’ view, she’ll dwarf Labor chief Isaac Herzog. They very quickly discovered she also wears high heels.

Shimon Peres experienced a rotation that blew up in his face when the religious parties that had committed didn’t sign the agreement. They raised a glass to a long life of another two years and pretended to sign without signing.

Bibi thinks he has abnormal luck. Avigdor Lieberman is trembling with fear and losing soldiers. Moshe Kahlon smiles a lot but is proving a half-baked politician, someone who doesn’t even know what the Clinton Parameters are. Livni is making Herzog disappear under her heels.

But Bibi forgets that the people have sharp senses. This time they’re onto him. Cabeza de raton.

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