The New Year edition of MarkerWeek is devoted to the indecision felt by some young Israelis regarding whether to build their lives in the State of Israel or to emigrate to the United States or Europe; whether to move far from their families and the local culture for the sake of a Western standard of living. The speech of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly gave them little reason to stay. Netanyahu described Israel as the vanguard of Western culture’s existential struggle against radical Islam — as a state doomed to unending war.
- Few buyers for Netanyahu's warmed-over UN shtick
- Transcript of Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the 2014 UN General Assembly
- Netanyahu's empty UN speech was a tour de force of deja vu
- Netanyahu's UN speech: Hamas, Iran, Islamic State and a finger in Obama’s eye
- Why Bibi is wrong to subsume the Palestinian issue under 'militant Islam'
Netanyahu looks around and sees the new Nazis of Hamas, Islamic State and Iran plotting a Holocaust for the Jewish people. To him, even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seems like a Nazi striving for a “Judenrein Palestine,” while the Arab states, tainted as they are with anti-Semitism and hypocrisy, are about to consign Israel to the claws of Iran.
Netanyahu is not interested in an agreement with the Palestinians, denies the existence of the occupation and is unwilling to withdraw from the West Bank in any case. Want peace? Look for it in Abu Dhabi and Cairo, not in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Even Abbas — who, like Netanyahu, awoke the national traumas in his speech and wrapped them in hot-headed exaggerations — offered a practical plan for an agreement, instead of merely despair and destruction.
It seems that Netanyahu, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, has not yet achieved the gravitas of statesman and leader. He is so focused on “hasbara” that he does not care how his statements are received at home.
What is a young woman thinking about using her grandmother’s European passport to settle in Berlin, or a recent college graduate in Boston wondering whether to return here or begin his career in America, to understand from them? That they ought to trust Netanyahu, who will save them from the approaching Holocaust, or that they would be better off moving to a less dangerous place?
The prime minister has no vision besides the continued occupation, the settlements and “the fight against radical Islam.” He is avoiding not only a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, but also dealing with the housing crisis, the integration of minorities, the collapse of the law-enforcement system and the weakness of the educational system. The budget that the government has put together shows that these problems, which are as much of a threat to Israel’s future as Islamic State is, are of no interest to him.
The main thing is to funnel more money into the defense establishment, weaken his political rivals, and preach morality to the sealed-up ears of the international community in the UN General Assembly’s half-empty hall.