Opinion |

Netanyahu, the European Union's Border Cop

The prime minister is telling the Europeans he'll stop the Arabization of Europe, just as he signals he'll favor Israeli Jews with European roots

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
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Netanyahu delivers his speech in the Goldmark Room of the Federation of Jewish Religious Communities of Hungary (Mazsihisz) Office in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Netanyahu delivers his speech in the Goldmark Room of the Federation of Jewish Religious Communities of Hungary (Mazsihisz) Office in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, July 19, 2017Credit: Balazs Mohai/AP
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

The Europeans drive Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu crazy in exactly the same way Israel’s Zionist left does. During a meeting in Budapest with the leaders of former East Bloc countries, he ditched all restraint and flung mud at the Western European elites who sit in their ivory tower in Brussels.

“The European Union is the only association of countries in the world that conditions the relations with Israel ... on political conditions,” he told the leaders of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, cashing in on the fear of people whose historical memories are fixated on the Ottoman armies massed at the gates of Vienna. Declaring that neither Russia nor Africa imposed such conditions, he added, “It’s crazy. It’s actually crazy .... It’s not about my interests, Israel’s interest. I’m talking about Europe’s interest.”

It’s just like at home. He incites the Mizrahim – Jews of Middle Eastern or North African origin – against the Ashkenazi elites, and both of them against the Arabs. Why should any of them worry about the occupation? After all, they’re making money very nicely and can continue to do so.

“There is no logic here,” he cried out heartrendingly. How can they not see – in Germany, France and north Tel Aviv – that not the Green Line but the sky is the limit?

“We are part of the European culture,” Netanyahu continued. “Europe ends in Israel. East of Israel, there is no more Europe.”

Basically, he’s telling the Europeans that he’ll stop the Arabization of Europe, not just physically by preventing millions of refugees from infiltrating its territory and penetrating its heart. He’ll also be defending Christian European culture against Islam penetrating its spirit. He can’t understand Christian Europe’s ingratitude despite his willingness to sacrifice himself and his total mobilization of Israel to protect Europe’s borders.

His outcry is reminiscent of the frustration of Kfir Brigade soldiers and the Border Police, who do the dirty work in the territories and in return get heaping portions of contempt from “the Tel Avivians,” who dare tell them they’re morally stained. Israel is Europe’s Border Police, Netanyahu cried.

And anyone who thought his phone call to the parents of soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of killing a Palestinian assailant while he was already lying wounded on the ground, was merely self-serving missed the deep layer of identification. Netanyahu is the Azaria of the European Union.

Anyone who wonders how Netanyahu has managed to stay in power for so many years must understand that this is exactly what he markets to Israelis: As long as he’s in power, Israel won’t integrate into the region. It’s okay to eat a little hummus from time to time or listen to some Mizrahi songs on the radio, but that’s it. “We are part of the European culture”; our only open border will be Ben-Gurion Airport.

Netanyahu tells the Ashkenazim – and they understand, in their gut they understand – that he’s blocking the Mizrahification of Israel with his body and will preserve their cultural superiority. Netanyahu will allow Mizrahi empowerment only when it serves him – to attack the Ashkenazi elites and to kill Arabs.

To the Mizrahim, Netanyahu offers the role he’s volunteering to play for the Europeans: serving as the border guards. He doesn’t want them as a bridge between the East and the West, nor does he propose that Israel should serve as such a bridge.

But in Israel, a Mizrahi initiative to serve as a bridge has indeed sprung up. It’s already making itself felt, and we can only hope it will overcome the forces that seek to suppress it, because it’s the only future Israel has.

Many political experts have tried to decipher the charm Netanyahu exerts over many Mizrahi voters – that is, why they love him and vote for him, even when it’s clear he doesn’t love them back. In the same way, one could wonder about the meaning of Netanyahu’s willingness to serve as the Border Police for another continent, and for a culture that, not long ago – just the blink of an eye in historical terms – sought to wipe people like him off the face of the earth.

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