The speech was said to have been moderate. It garnered praise from the the most prominent pundits. Encouragement was even heard from unexpected quarters: sources close to President Barack Obama, the United States Ambassador to Israel and even from Shelly Yacimovich. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed ostensibly to have gotten himself off the hook. He did not allude in his UN speech as before to an attack on Iran before the U.S. presidential election, but rather, he was good enough to let out the line to the spring or summer of 2013. Neither did he stir the pot of domestic U.S. politics or create an open rift with Obama. Rather, he actually thanked the president for his work toward stopping Iran's nuclear program. It was a peace-loving speech, on the face of it. Netanyahu demanded that Obama present Tehran with a red line, but gave the reason that a red line would prevent war.
But in fact it was the most apocalyptic speech that Netanyahu ever gave. He spoke of a world war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness; between enlightened and tolerant modernity supposedly represented by Israel, the U.S. and the Western world, and the dark ages represented by Islamic forces headed by Iran and Al-Qaida, which threaten world domination and the eradication of any semblance of modernity and Western culture.
He has not given such a militant and paranoid address for a long time. If in the past Netanyahu focused on threats to Israel's survival and on presenting it as a victim, now the existential danger has spread to the entire world. Superpowers who have thousands of hydrogen bombs are shaking like leaves in the face of Iran's 70 percent of an atom bomb, pulled out like a comic strip drawing at the decisive moment.
Thus, wrapped in a sheep's skin is a tiger leaping at a war of Gog and Magog between the forces of light and darkness. But where, in fact, are we? Is Israel under Netanyahu even on the illuminated side?
Netanyahu is sure that we are. Anywhere there is a disaster Israel immediately offers to help, Netanyahu said in his speech. We remember the disaster of the desperate refugees on our southern border and how we were immediately there to help starve and dehydrate them and chase most of them away with tear gas and iron bars. We remember the disaster of the Palestinians under occupation, the cruelty and the stealing of land, and the disaster of the poor, how tens of thousands of apartments earmarked for them were arbitrarily sold and they were left without public housing. And the disaster of the middle class, crushed by the burden of taxes and the cost of living. And the disaster of the health, education and welfare services collapsing for lack of funding, because funding here is always funding for war.
And we also remember the disaster of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, an enlightened department of which is about to be forced to close by the education minister. And the disaster of masses of people who have lost their jobs, some without proper compensation, such as the workers at Phoenicia Glass Works and Maariv. And the disaster of a country that serves its ultra-Orthodox religious leaders, its settlers and its tycoons (by giving a NIS 1.4 billion haircut to Yitzhak Tshuva). And the disaster of the dwindling democracy and rule of law.
So Bibi, before you bring an atom bomb into the United Nations and declare war between light and darkness, perhaps you should check first which side you are on.
There is also some comfort in Bibi's comics-like drawing of the bomb. A normal politician moves from words to deeds. Netanyahu moves from words to drawings and toys. At the height of his speeches, the renowned word virtuoso actually abandons words - whether to a duck, a magic triangle or a childish drawing of a bomb.
In Netanyahu's case this is welcome. Better he speak than act. And better he draw than speak. The drawings and the toys are the icing on the cake he is offering, and so he should be sat down on a rug with colored markers to keep himself busy, rather than us.
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