I want to like Bibi. He leads the land I love more than chocolate. He’s a gifted orator. He’s a genius.
Most of us would agree to these basic facts about the Prime Minister of Israel: he speaks well, he’s smart, and was democratically-elected to lead the State of Israel. We know these facts to be true whether or not we like him. And I don’t. The fact of which tends to catch my friends by surprise.
Especially those friends who have me boxed into a tidy little Zio-extreme right wing über-religious package with a settler ribbon on the top. That’s when they aren’t blaming me for the obnoxiousness of the Kars for Kids jingle (I work there).
Here’s the thing: Bibi belongs to the Likud Party, associated with the center right wing Greater Israel Movement and Revisionist Zionism. Bibi doesn’t just belong to this party; he sits at its head. But the policies he implements are at odds with the vision of Zeev Jabotinsky, the ideological founder of the Revisionist Movement.
Bibi is a right wing politician who implements left wing policy. The irony of this is that he is, on a continual basis, depicted by the world media as an extreme right wing hawk. That really cracks me up considering how he just keeps selling out the right wing sector of the Israeli population that voted for him: his electorate. The thing is, he talks up a right wing storm, and then proceeds to implement policy with firm associations to the left.
Talked Reciprocity—Gave Away Hebron
Take his famous reciprocity speech in 1997, the first time Netanyahu was elected prime minister. I listened to that on the radio—didn’t have a PC back then—and I was THRILLED. Finally, a politician making sense: demanding reciprocal acts of good faith from our so-called “peace partners.” It all sounded really great until he gave away Hebron in exchange for . . . nothing, or rather for Arafat-sponsored TERROR and bloodshed. Giving away land is the antithesis of the Greater Israel philosophy and right wing policy.
Leaves Government Over Disengagement—Votes in Favor of Disengagement
Bibi left his government post as finance minister on August 7, 2005, as a protest against Disengagement. However, he voted for Disengagement four times, twice in the cabinet, and twice in the Knesset. For 18 months, the Israeli people pleaded with him to leave the government for good. For 18 months, Netanyahu ignored the people, holding his post and contributing in a very concrete way to the fiasco that was Disengagement and which has led to the firing of tens of thousands of rockets from Gaza into civilian Southern Israel. Again: giving away land is the exact opposite of the Greater Israel, right wing ideology.
Criticizes Oslo—Gives Bar Ilan Speech
Netanyahu was one of the most vocal critics of Oslo, calling the accords, “deeply flawed,” for instance, in a 1996 interview. He was an outspoken opponent of the creation of a Palestinian state. In 2009, however, he gives credence, for the first time, to the idea of the two-state solution, in a speech at Bar Ilan University. The speech, considered to be an important turnaround in Netanyahu’s political stance, is believed by most to be the result of intense behind the scenes pressure on the Prime Minister by American President, Barack Obama. Nonetheless, the volte face is seen as a betrayal of Netanyahu’s electorate, the right. The two-state solution runs counter to tightly-held right wing beliefs.
Leader of Greater Israel Camp—Freezes Building in Judea and Samaria
Netanyahu leads the Likud Party and is the democratically elected Prime Minister of Israel. Yet he caves in to the demands of President Obama and agrees to freeze building in Judea and Samaria. Those Israelis who voted for Bibi had assumed he would uphold right wing policy which calls for building in all the territories considered part of Greater Israel, including in Judea and Samaria. The settlers who voted for Bibi counted on this fact when they placed their ballots in the box on Election Day. They voted for the right wing policy of building and received instead, left wing policy: a building freeze.
Denounces Capitulation to Terror—Releases Thousands of Terrorists
In his 1986 book, Terrorism: How the West Can Win, Netanyahu spoke out against the Israeli government’s release of terrorist prisoners as bargaining chips. He wrote, “The terrorist objective is not negotiation but capitulation,” and then went on to release more than a thousand jailed terrorists with blood on their hands. The recidivism rate is high. The terrorists are received by their people as heroes, celebrated. Another prisoner release is expected to take place this week and will be linked to building, a linkage leaders of Judea and Samaria decry.
Commissions Edmond Levy Report—Fails to Bring Recommendations to Knesset
In January 2012, the Prime Minister set up a committee to investigate the legal status of Judea and Samaria. The committee is headed up by a retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice, Edmond Levy. The committee issues an 89-page report six months later which declares that Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is legal according to international law. The settlers are joyous, thinking that finally, the government will annex these disputed territories. However, Netanyahu does nothing to act on the recommendations of the committee and the initial excitement fades and finally dies.
Apologizes to Turkey—Relations Worsen
President Obama phones Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and hands the phone to Bibi, insisting the Israeli Prime Minister apologize to Erdogan for the Mavi Marmara Incident, in which nine Turks die trying to break the legal maritime blockade of Gaza. IDF soldiers are gravely injured in this incident and Israelis feel the apology as a betrayal of the soldiers who were tasked with stopping the flotilla, which was, after all, engaged in an illegal act. If anything, Turkey should be apologizing to ISRAEL and not the other way around. In return for doing the bidding of President Obama, relations between Turkey and Israel actually worsen. The Erdogan government leaks to Iran the identity of ten Iranians who met with the Israeli Mossad in Turkey.
Talks About Iran—Does Nothing
Prime Minister Netanyahu has, of late, engaged in a media blitz, attempting to persuade the world that Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and that Iran must not be allowed to continue its nuclear weapons program. Bibi is a marvelous speaker, but he lacks President Obama’s charisma and the world is war-weary: they’re just not listening. The time for talk has run out. If we can delay the bomb by 6 months, that would be a good thing.
And this, most of all, is why, as much as I want to like Bibi, I cannot. I cannot like a man who endangers my children and indeed, the world at large by walking the tightrope of realpolitik and fearing to do what must be done.
I do not envy Bibi the important decisions he must make on a minute-to-minute basis. I understand that I can only see what I am permitted to see, and that things may not be as simple as I present them here for my readers’ eyes. But as a mother of children with a finger on the pulse of politics at all times, my gut sense is that act he must.
Not to earn my affection, but to save the world.
Beginning with Israel.
(Dedicated to reader Herb Glatter)