Matt Semel

Bibi’s Game of Thrones

Four children were dead. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu spoke to the press and pronounced that “human animals” killed the three Israeli teens. He called for vengeance. He cited Satan.

The fourth boy, an Arab, was burned alive. But, no matter. Jewish nationalists are not the moral equivalent of Hamas terrorists. Those who incite such nationalists may even be part of the current Israeli government, an inconvenience necessary to prolong the life of this government and its ruler, King Bibi.

Now, more children die because the king has gone to war. Collective punishment for what Netanyahu describes as a “culture of hate and vengeance,” ignoring his own culture of hate and vengeance that is tearing Israeli society apart from the inside.

In the HBO series, Game of Thrones, based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, House Lannister is the wealthiest family in Westeros. Early in the second season of the show, Cersei Lannister is Queen Regent, her son has assumed the throne and her brother, Tyrion is acting hand of the king. When questions arise as to whether her son rightfully became king when the man he believed to be his father died, Cersei gets to work. She orders her guard to find all the late king’s bastard children and kill them. Tyrion learns of her plan and confronts her about its wisdom.

Tyrion: You’re losing the people.

Cersei: The people. You think I care?

Tyrion: You might find it difficult to rule over millions who want you dead. Half the city will starve when winter comes; half the city will plot to over throw you. And your gold plated thugs just gave them their rallying cry: the Queen slaughters babies.

Cersei: This is what ruling is: lying on a bed of weeds and ripping them out one by one before they strangle you in your sleep.

In 2005, after the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon authorized a unilateral disengagement from Gaza and ordered home all Israelis living there, then Finance Minister Benyamin Netanyahu resigned in protest over the decision. But, in a move that typified Bibi’s having his cake and eating it too when it comes to his political aspirations, he first voted in favor of the withdrawal as a member of Sharon’s cabinet.

The Bulldozer once threatened to bulldoze Gaza, a spit of land home to just under two million Palestinians. Instead, he used the IDF to yank Israelis out and made no one happy, not the Jews who lived there or the Palestinians, who have been kicked around by the Egyptians and the Israelis for so long the identity of the boot no longer matters.

Ever since he was elevated to prime minister, Netanyahu has constantly reminded us that he is ready to make the difficult choices necessary for peace with the Palestinians while at the same time he has unleashed the dogs of war, twice in the last two years. He has built settlements, spurned American entreaties and pulled the rug out from under Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, and his best hope to help build a model Palestinian nation state in the West Bank.

As rockets rain down on Israel and bombs and missiles destroy what little is left of Gaza to destroy, Netanyahu would still have you believe that he is a man of peace with no partner. The truth is Netanyahu wants to transform the IDF into gold plated thugs who kill women and children from the sky and is determined to rip out the Palestinian weeds until there are none left. With every Palestinian death, the world watches and draws the conclusion that Israel slaughters babies. With every Palestinian death, King Bibi comes closer to his dream of a Greater Israel, devoid of Palestinians, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

Netantyahu has lost the people of the world and has given Hamas a rallying cry even for those who abhor it. When will he lose the people of Israel? Doesn’t he realize that the next group firing rockets at Israeli cities will make Hamas look like the Friends of the IDF?

In letters to a friend published by Haaretz after her death, Leah Rabin called Netanyahu a “monstrosity” and a “contentious liar who is ruining everything that is good in our society.” Leah Rabin never forgave Netanyahu for failing to quell the incitement against her husband in the days leading up to his murder. Then as now, King Bibi believed that peace destroys and war builds.

Statesmen make peace. Monarchs play the Game of Thrones.


About the Author
Matt Semel has a PhD in Criminology from the Graduate Center of the City of New York. He also has a law degree and practiced criminal law in New York City for 13 years and was a college professor for 11 years, teaching courses in terrorism, law and criminal justice.
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