Michael Boyden

Bibi and Churchill

At a time of war – and Israel is at war – a country needs a leader who can be respected, who will unite the nation, and whose judgment can be trusted.

When Britain’s very survival was under threat in 1940 and there was a very real risk of the country being overrun by the Nazis, they were fortunate enough to have a political leader of calibre, who could speak to the nation as a whole and give them cause for hope.

In May of that year, Winston Churchill, in his first speech after becoming prime minister and just two months before the Battle of Britain, addressed the House of Commons in one of his most well-known speeches with the words:

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind…. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime…. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer that in one word: It is Victory.”

Would that Israel had a prime minister of that calibre! When Bibi gets up to speak, many people turn off their radios and televisions.

Three weeks into the war, Bibi did finally agree to a press conference yesterday in which reporters were allowed to ask questions. However, that did not stop him from blaming security officials and army intelligence later that evening for the failure that led up to the attack on October 7th. (Following sharp criticism, he withdrew the tweet and made a rare public apology.)

Now is not the time to try to shift the blame onto others, and Bibi showed a lack of judgement in doing so, particularly when our soldiers are risking their lives on the front lines.

It will be recalled that he refused a request from the Chief of Staff to meet with him prior to the Knesset vote on the reasonability clause that would prohibit the courts from reviewing decisions made by the cabinet, government ministers, and other unspecified elected officials. Bibi placed his political interests before the security of our nation.

Our prime minister was warned long ago of the detrimental effects of pursuing his judicial reform agenda, the damage that it was causing to the unity of our people and how it would be perceived and interpreted by our enemies. However, he chose to ignore the warnings.

Bibi fails to understand that a prime minister needs to set aside personal and party-political considerations at a time of war and work to unite the country, giving moral support to the nation at a time of mourning and distress.

Churchill understood that, but it is not in Bibi’s nature to do so.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
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