Michael Boyden

Bibi Won’t Change

Every Israeli child knows the story of Samson the judge, whose eyes were gouged out by the Philistines, and who eventually brought down the temple killing both them and himself with the words “Let me die with the Philistines” (Judges 16:30).

However, the story does not end happily. The rest of the Book of Judges testifies to lawlessness and anarchy, and the last verse of the book relates that “in those days there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes”.

Samson had been shamed, and was prepared to commit suicide having been duped by Delilah into revealing the secret of his strength. He had simply got it wrong and ultimately paid the price for his foolishness.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is no Samson. He will do whatever it takes to remain in power and will not bring down the temple on himself. President Biden can say: “I think he has to change … this government in Israel is making it very difficult for him to move”, but Bibi won’t do so.

He unashamedly included fascists and religious zealots in his coalition in order to get into power, and without people like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich his government will fall.

Bibi won’t allow that to happen. He has more political expertise than any other Israeli politician and most world leaders, and will do whatever it takes to remain prime minister.

President Biden can accuse Israel of “indiscriminate bombing”, but Bibi, who has always presented himself as “Mr. Security” cannot afford to lose this war.

We were told at its outset that its objectives were to overthrow Hamas and release the hostages. As the world loses patience with the ongoing price being paid in the loss of innocent civilian lives, it will become increasingly difficult for Israel to carry on fighting.

The moment this war is over, there will be calls for Bibi’s resignation. The trial in which he is accused of breach of trust, accepting bribes and fraud will go back into full swing, and a commission of inquiry will be established to examine the failures that brought about the horrific pogrom that took place on October 7th.

Bibi won’t end this war. Unlike Samson, he won’t commit suicide, and it will take international pressure to bring it to an end.

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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