Have We Israelis Gone Crazy, or What?

There is no problem in Israeli-American relations. The problem is Netanyahu's arrogrant, foolhardy challenge to Obama.

Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.
Body language: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.Credit: AP
Yoel Marcus
Yoel Marcus

The campaign leading up to the March 17 Knesset election will go down in history as what the language of the Talmud would call “bukei srikei” – empty bottles, but also meaning nonsense. I am not only referring to allegations that the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanayhu, pocketed deposit bottle refunds and failed to repay them in full, or the revelation that everything from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nose drops to his pistachio ice cream has been paid for either by the taxpayer or by employees of the Prime Minister’s Residence who have not been reimbursed.

The revelation over the prime minister’s telling his staff in effect: “I’m congested. Hop over to the drug store and buy me some medicine,” is reminiscent of Bibi Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, when he was said to have told his waiter at a restaurant that he was “rushing” to another meeting and his dining companion would pick up the check. This familiar conduct of his is not only an indication of inherent stinginess or simple “schnorring,” but also his confidence that is he is the country’s only national asset, while everyone else is there to serve him – and finance him. It’s the taxpayer who is supposed to serve him and even finance the construction of a bedroom to accommodate him on oversees flights. After all, he is a major international figure. He’ll fly to America and show the Americans who’s boss.

Where does he know this from? From Israel’s sycophantic ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, who said Bibi’s attempt to influence the Americans’ nuclear agreement with Iran was worth the price of damaging relations with the Obama administration. No one tops Netanyahu, who is still King of Israel.

It’s not the shabby defects that Sara Netanyahu showed on camera in a video tour of the Prime Minister’s Residence that should bother us. It’s not the rust stains in the bathroom sink or the hole in the Persian rug that we saw in the video starring and directed by First Lady Sara (but which neglected to show the elegant, modern kitchen in the second-floor private living quarters of the Netanyahu’s official residence). Neither is it the heavy consumption of makeup in the household. (And by the way, it’s not just Sara who uses the makeup; Bibi has been caught on occasion caked in the stuff so he’ll be prepared if he finds himself by chance on TV.)

Yet the question remains: What the hell is happening to us? Have we gone crazy, or what? He is sacrificing Israel’s foreign relations for the sake of the interests of that multibillionaire casino magnate and supporter of his, Sheldon Adelson. He has turned Iran into his banner and Obama’s failure. In the process, he is not only hurting the current U.S. president, but also the next president who may be a Democrat. He is producing our next enemy or, heaven forbid, even leading to the Europeanization of the United States.

We can’t get in entanglements with an ally we are dependent upon. This isn’t just a case of one-time damage. God help us if we return to a situation where Israel is a subject of dispute in America. We have come close in the past a number of times. It really would not be very pleasant to get hammered hard and discover that the Americans are not shedding any tears on our behalf. Bibi is playing with our lives.

President Barack Obama and his wife have no problems with the kitchen at the White House. There they know exactly who pays and for what. As is well known, Bibi doesn’t interest himself in trivialities such as who pays for what so long as he isn’t the one paying. He is interested in assuring himself another term as prime minister so he can return to that crumbling Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, even if he does have to pay for nose drops himself. He is even willing to go head-to-head with the Obama administration and the American Jewish community for it.

There is no problem in the relations between Israel and the United States. The problem is Bibi’s challenge that he has directed at Obama as if everything was taking place in his own private backyard. Bibi is a failure by every measure, both political and moral. His shelf life as a leader has long expired. We are entitled to sane leadership, but if we are crazy enough to reelect him, we won’t get it.

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