440 More Days…. But Who is Counting?

440 more days, but who’s counting? Probably all Republicans, several Democrats, many Israelis and most definitely our not-so-wise Prime Minister. At the end of those days there will be a new man (or woman?) in the Oval Office. And we Israelis cannot expect major changes. It will be just more of the same.

I am, simply put, at a loss to understand the recent appointment of Ran Baratz as our national media chief, a position wielding enormous influence. Is our Prime Minister so ill-informed that he was unaware of Baratz’s Facebook comments read by millions around the world. “Obama is an anti-Semite”. “Kerry has the mentality of a twelve-year old” and the unkind words about our dear President Rivlin who chose to fly economy class in order to meet and greet his people?

Ignorance of it is no excuse. And Baratz’s apologies are like feathers in the wind. But fly as they may, they will be remembered by those whom they hurt. Even Netanyahu himself did not escape from Baratz’s sarcasm.

When it was brought to Bibi’s attention, his first order of duty, once having verified the truth of the accusations, should have been to cancel Baratz’s appointment and dismiss him from the new position. Members of his own party and those in the opposition demanded it of him.

But he did not. He said he would decide after his return from the United States. What was he waiting for? In three more days he will arrive at the White House. There will be handshakes, forced smiles, and definitely less-than-warm words exchanged. No matter what explanation he makes to the American President and Secretary of State, they will construe Baratz’s words as having the effect of a Netanyahu policy. The media chief does, after all, speak for the government which he represents.

And for all we know, Baratz may have been expressing sentiments which our Prime Minister himself harbors, although disguising them more diplomatically. Netanyahu does not like Obama or Kerry and he has often opposed President Rivlin. They are not known for friendly relations.

How will he wiggle out of the Baratz Affair when he meets with the American leadership? He is coming, with cap in hand, to beg for more military aid in order that our forces can be superior to those of our enemies. Doubtlessly, he will get more aid but of a certainty, not the amount that he will ask for.

Americans and Europeans are growing more tired of the Israel-Palestine conflict which seems to have no stop. With each day that passes, our media, press and television and radio, recount the details of stabbings, murders, car ram-ings and the death tolls keep rising. Our people are fed up with it, frustrated by our inability to crush them, and are losing faith in our government which talks much and does little.

In our sacred literature it is written “lo midrash ha ikar ela ha maaseh”…. It is not what one says that is important; it is what one does”. To paraphrase an English-language adage “actions speak louder than words”.

I don’t know what Bibi and Obama/Kerry will say to one another. But I do hope that upon his return home to Israel, our Prime Minister will have the decency and the courage to send Ran Baratz packing. And as for the next 440 days, who is counting? Well, I, for one, am.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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