Opinion |

Netanyahu Is Out of Control

After issuing threats against the UN, the United States, Senegal and Ukraine, all that’s left for Israel’s prime minister to do is impose sanctions on Antarctica | Opinion

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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Benjamin Netanyahu.
Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit: Dan Balilty / AP
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

If Peter Sellers were still alive, we’d have to invite him to serve as Israel’s prime minister. For a farce like the one concocted by Benjamin Netanyahu deserves, at the very least, an actor as funny and talented as the one who brought us “The Mouse that Roared” in 1959.

This hilarious film about the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, which declares war on the United States, was born of author Leonard Wibberley’s imagination. He undoubtedly never dreamed it would serve as inspiration for a real-life story line written by the prime minister of the Jewish state, who has decided to march at the head of the battalion just like Commander Tom Thumb in Arik Einstein’s song from “In the Land of the Dwarfs,” armed with a sharp pin in his hand.

The imitation even surpasses the original, because Netanyahu’s war spans four continents, from America through Africa and Australia to Europe. All that’s needed to make the lunacy complete is to impose sanctions on Antarctica.

From now on, every Senegalese mother who benefits from Israeli drip irrigation will know that you don’t mess with the Zionists. The enlightened states of Europe will know that from now on, they’ll have to beg for visits by the ministers of tourism and regional cooperation, the ministers of transportation and science, and especially the strategic affairs minister. The era of indulgence is over. What daring, what pride. From now on, it’s us against the world.

The giddiness didn’t begin with the sanctions Israel plans to impose on countries that sponsored or supported UN Security Council Resolution 2334. Its roots lie in what Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly in September.

“The UN began as a moral force and has become a moral farce,” Netanyahu exhorted the sparse audience in the hall. “The United Nations denounces Israel; the United States supports Israel. And a central pillar of that defense has been America’s consistent support for Israel at the UN.”

Three months have passed, and suddenly, this farcical institution has become Israel’s biggest enemy. The “Oom Shmoom,” as former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion derisively dubbed the UN, the body whose decisions Israel traditionally crumpled into paper balls, has been magnified by Netanyahu to such an extent that it has ballooned into the greatest strategic threat facing Israel, while the United States is now a bunch of gangsters led by a black Muslim.

Anyone who needs a reminder is invited to read Paragraph 9 of Security Council Resolution 2334, the one that caused the storm. That paragraph details the previous resolutions and agreements that Israel has turned into confetti: Resolution 242, the Quartet’s Road Map, the Arab peace initiative, the French initiative, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the laws of occupation.

So what’s eating him? If the UN is an irrelevant institution whose decisions can be mocked, one that isn’t capable of resolving conflicts and can do nothing but cluck its tongue in the face of mass slaughter in Syria or South Sudan, one with no more power than the Arab League, what is Netanyahu so livid about?

But it seems that even Netanyahu, during those interludes when rage isn’t blinding him, understands that the UN, the institution that gave Israel its international legitimacy, is more than the sum of its parts. It is neither Senegal nor Ukraine. When it imposes sanctions, leaders are put on trial and countries are liable to collapse. Or alternatively, as in the case of Iran, to sign a nuclear deal or, heaven forbid, a peace treaty.

Therefore, a country that declares war on members of the Security Council is either a superpower or a joke. And Israel, despite the fancy dress, isn’t a superpower. Its prime minister has gone out of control, and it has become a country that shoots wildly in all directions, thereby destroying any chance of mobilizing an international coalition to deal with its real threats. Israel is telling itself a story of heroism against the UN while acting as if this were a second Masada.

In Israel, the Titanic’s orchestra continues to play. But now, it’s accompanying that famous and accurate song from “In the Land of the Dwarfs,” which describes how after Commander Tom Thumb, “the cavalry come / riding on fleas / They fill the air with / whistles and the sound of songs / The drummer pounds with force / on half a nutshell / And sings: How good it is / to go out to war together! / La la la la.”

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