Opinion |

Netanyahu Knew Perfectly Well Why He Gave '60 Minutes' an Interview

Putin isn’t lying. Trump doesn’t lie. Nor does Netanyahu. They don't refer to any reality. They create it.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his interview with CBS’ Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his interview with CBS’ Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes.”Credit: Courtesy
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

“I haven’t changed my position,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified during his interview with CBS’ Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes,” on Sunday. “I said look, we’ll solve this. We want two nation-states for two peoples living in peace, with appropriate security measures. Two states for two peoples. That’s my focus.”

However, in March 2015, during the last election campaign, Netanyahu unequivocally rejected his Bar-Ilan University speech of 2009, in which he expressed support for the principle of two states for two peoples, declaring that if he were elected there would be no Palestinian state.

One could say that the prime minister was lying. Not just about his position, but about his focus. But that would be like saying that Vladimir Putin was lying when he appeared on TV and, with a smile on his face, told the world that there were no Russian troops in Ukraine, while his forces were actually deployed there, annexing the Crimean Peninsula. Putin didn’t admit later that he he’d lied. He boasted about it.

It’s like saying that Donald Trump lied when he stated that he had opposed the war in Iraq, despite the existence of a recording in which he’s clearly heard supporting it.

Netanyahu, too, will boast in the future about his lies to the world, saying that “two states for two peoples are my focus” at the same time he was expropriating Palestinian land and legitimizing illegal outposts.

Conversely, if the needs of political survival lead him to pursue “leftist” policies (as happened in 1996 when he accepted the Oslo Accords; in 2009 when he gave the Bar-Ilan speech; or in 2011 when he released Gilad Shalit in a prisoner swap) – he’ll boast that he spoke truth to the world and lied to the settlers.

Writing that Netanyahu is lying is like being part of the army of fact-checkers employed by the Democrats and the liberal media in the United States, who published all of Trump’s lies right after his TV interviews. It’s like chasing a ghost. Putin isn’t lying. Trump doesn’t lie. Nor does Netanyahu.

They don’t have an ideology. They don’t have positions. They don't refer to any reality. All that interests them is power, rule and honorifics. They create reality through their words. Their words aren’t examined in light of reality – they create it. What these leaders say is what is correct. And anyone waging a fruitless and petty cat-and-mouse game with them, trying to catch them out, is playing the wrong game.

Leslie Stahl plays the right game. Netanyahu won’t give interviews to investigative Israeli TV programs such as "Fact" or "The Source," but will to "60 Minutes." Stahl didn’t ask him a thing about this; she said nothing about the way the prime minister is persecuting her Israeli journalist colleagues – doing all he can to censor or silence them. Not one word of solidarity. She won’t hinder his quest to garner more authoritarian and anti-democratic power in Israel.

Donald Trump gave Stahl an interview right after he was elected, his first to the media. In contrast to most of her colleagues, she’s considered a “good girl.” She too pursues power and honor. That kind of journalist is well liked by authoritarian leaders around the world.



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