Raise Your Eyes, Bibi

During Netanyahu's 20 months in office, he's maintained calm and economic growth; but under the surface, the state is sick.

Raise your eyes, Bibi. The prime minister's study is a pleasant room, but a closed one. So one must rise from the desk and take a few steps out to the secretaries' room. One must cross the secretaries' room and enter the prime minister's office. Then leave the prime minister's office and walk about the other rooms. And watch. See what human materials the prime minister's bureau is made of. See how the prime minister's bureau is run. Ask what Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl would have said about such a bureau. Ask what Winston Churchill would have said about it. Is the current prime minister's bureau the best national headquarters Israel can produce?

Raise you eyes, Bibi. When you enter the Israeli cabinet's meeting room this Sunday look around you. Look right, look left, minister by minister. Are there five excellent ministers sitting around the cabinet table? Are there 10 worthy ministers? Is the foreign minister the right one for the job? Is the interior minister the right one? What would Herzl say about this mediocrity? What would Churchill say about this wretchedness? Can the current government deal with existential challenges?

Raise your eyes, Bibi. Walk along the corridor, get out of the glass aquarium and go down the stairs. Enter the armored Audi and take a tour around the state's systems. You will see the diplomatic system collapsing. You will see the defense-military system struggling. You will see the education system floundering. You will see the interior systems failing. Yes, the Mossad and Shin Bet are still outstanding. The health system is impressive. But most of the public administration systems are atrophied and clogged. There is no constitution, no rule, no governance. The state has no landlord.

What would Herzl say about such a lamentable state of affairs? How would Churchill have won with such dysfunctional state systems? What has the current prime minister done to repair the state from its core?

Raise your eyes, Bibi. Board a helicopter and fly the length and breadth of the country. Not to put out a fire this time, but to see a fire. Because the entire state is being sucked into the center, whose towers are rising to the the sky. The bubble is getting bigger and bigger to the verge of explosion. But we're losing the Galilee and Negev. We're losing Jerusalem. The West Bank is becoming an irreversible entanglement. The periphery is abandoned, the margins are injured, the occupation is suffocating. The country is burning in a silent combustion. Formidable centrifugal forces are closing in on the Israeli center. Herzl's state of the Jews is losing its hold on the land. The Churchillian struggle-state is losing its spirit. There is no leader to forge a path and show Israel the way out.

Raise your eyes, Bibi. When the helicopter lands get out and talk to people. Go and see what is really going on. When was the last time you had a profound conversation with Amos Oz? when did you last ask Stanley Fischer about the state of the nation? When did you listen to a young company commander who has left the army and is searching for his way in the Israeli jungle? Only if you listen perhaps you'll understand how desperate the intellectual elite is. How anxious the business elite is. How the best of our young people are losing hope. The Israelis devoted to Israel do not see the Churchill who will save the Herzlian state. They see a Netanyahu who is a shadow of Netanyahu's shadow. A grotesque of Netanyahu. A pale copy of what Netanyahu was supposed to be.

Raise your eyes, Bibi. You've passed another budget, survived another year. During your first 20 months in office you've maintained calm on the borders and preserved the economic growth. But under the quiet surface the state is mortally sick. Under the surface of growth society is crumbling. The international situation, the national situation and the social situation are intolerable. Israel is losing its international legitimacy, its inner unity and the meaning of its existence. While you are lowering your gaze, Bibi, history is focusing its gaze on you.