Opinion |

God, What Terrible Sin Did We Commit to Deserve Netanyahu?

A prime minister who capitulates to every pressure group and views the long-term as the 8 P.M. news broadcast is not fit to lead Israel

Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler
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Hundreds of Israelis gather at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square ahead of a protest march calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, August 27, 2020
Hundreds of Israelis gather at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square ahead of a protest march calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, August 27, 2020Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

If it were possible to get an answer from God, I would ask him at this time, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, what sin did we commit to deserve such a heavy punishment? What transgression did we commit to deserve such a failed prime minister? What offense did we commit that Benjamin Netanyahu has been imposed on us for such a long time?

After all, it’s well known that he’s the world’s worst manager. He’s incapable of making decisions on time. Before every decision, he agonizes and reviews every detail, then decides only at the last moment, and even then only because there’s no other choice.

LISTEN: How COVID killed Bibi’s legacy and resurrected his archrivalCredit: Haaretz

And with regard to the coronavirus, this has been critical. His decisions, which were made extremely belatedly and flip-flopped daily, have caused chaos, confusion, distrust and a renewed outbreak of the virus. When it comes to management, he’s the polar opposite of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who described Netanyahu as “someone who’s pressured by every situation, who’s gripped by panic and loses his cool.”

Netanyahu is incapable of withstanding pressure. He capitulates to every pressure group. His management style is supremely amateurish. All he does is put out fires, and for him, the long-term is the 8 P.M. news broadcast. We are witnessing the terrible results in every walk of life.

Let’s start with society. Instead of building bridges to connect different segments of society, he has created schisms and polarization.

He has incited everybody against everybody – religious people against secular people, rightists against leftists (“they’ve forgotten what it means to be Jewish”) and Jews against Arabs (“they’re going to the polls in droves”). He has inflamed tempers and ignited fires. During his tenure, hatred has spread throughout Israel, and he exploits it to serve his own political needs.

The second field is the economy. Despite his self-created image, he has failed big-time on the economy. He hasn’t carried out a single important reform since 2009. He didn’t deal with the “fat man” (the public sector), which has grown even fatter under him.

He didn’t cancel customs duties on food, and therefore didn’t lower the cost of living. During his tenure, housing prices went through the roof. He was even too afraid to raise the retirement age for women. The result has been a consistent decline in the growth rate and a drop in our standard of living relative to Europe.

His handling of the budget has also been scandalous. He instigated and approved huge deficits, which have reached their peak now, during the coronavirus.

Since the virus erupted, he has wasted tens of billions of shekels without an approved budget and brought us back to terrifying deficits (14 percent of gross domestic product) and a dangerous debt level of 80 percent of GDP. Israel’s unemployment rate is also one of the highest on the planet – 12 percent of the labor force, which means around 500,000 people.

His third failure is diplomatic. Don’t be blinded by the peace and normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Those are nice, but not historic. They don’t solve the main problem – the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has destroyed the Palestinians’ trust. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t want to meet with him, and neither does the king of Jordan. This is a ticking bomb that requires an agreed diplomatic solution, but we aren’t even going in the right direction.

Netanyahu also hasn’t come up with any solution to the rockets from the Gaza Strip, nor has he prevented Hezbollah from arming itself with tens of thousands of missiles. And that’s far more important than a trip to Bahrain.

The fourth field is the law. He has severely undermined the law enforcement agencies, the prosecution and the judges.

He battled former Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and is now trying to get Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to resign. He has even turned the State Comptroller’s Office into a weak, ludicrous institution. He intimidates the media, and now he’s trying to destroy another fundamental element of democracy – the protests against him.

Even in politics, he has been a huge failure. He hasn’t managed to build trust and a working relationship with the most easygoing man on earth, Benny Gantz. Therefore, his government is paralyzed. He has even undermined his own finance minister and refused to back the coronavirus czar that he himself appointed, Ronni Gamzu. How is it possible to work with someone like this?

And all this together has led us to the fifth failure, the worst of all – his failure in the war against the coronavirus. This failure is registered entirely under his name. The second lockdown and its damage are his legal children.

Netanyahu is a post-dated check that has bounced. How greatly we must have sinned, transgressed and offended to receive such a heavy punishment.

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