Give Netanyahu a Break

“Ooo Bibi is so pathetic, he squeezed himself into the first row for a photo op!” “Did you hear that Bibi went to France even though it cost so much in tax money?” “Pfff our Prime Minister is so childish, he only went to France to spew elections propaganda!”

France is in mourning. The free world is in mourning. The Jews of France are in mourning, as well as Jews everywhere. Yet some of our newspapers are having a field day, because they have yet another opportunity to do some Bibi-bashing. Hooray!

The newspapers want us to believe that Netanyahu is bad, petty, and embarrassing. So they gleefully tell us that he elbowed his way into the first row of the march, used every opportunity to make alarmist speeches, and urged all the Jews to come here as soon as yesterday in an insensitive, insolent way.

The only problem is that these stories are completely skewed. People who actually attended Netanyahu’s speeches tell quite a different story.

They say that the French invited Netanyahu and Abbas to march in the first row.

They tell me that Bibi’s speeches were serious and earnest. He emphasized that we face a dangerous time, and that we all have to think big, take action, take responsibility for our fate in the hard years ahead of us. He promised to help the French Jews to do so, regardless of where they choose to live. Yes, he reminded them that they are welcome here, but in a warm and honest way.

They tell me that far from feeling insulted, Bibi’s French Jewish audience responded with gratitude and relief. They did not think that Netanyahu exaggerated the that risks they face. If anything, they are less frightened after hearing him. His words helped to alleviate their fears, empowered them, and gave them comfort and hope.

The newspapers tell us that Netanyahu turned a moment of international mourning into a provincial rant about Israel and antisemitism, ignoring the wider contexts of recent events. But this is quite wrong. Read his speech from the central synagogue in Paris and see for yourselves.Yes, he spoke of Israel and terror. But he also spoke of freedom of speech and Western values, and expressed his condolences to all the victims’s families, Jews and non Jews alike.

But some people did turn a moment of international mourning into elections propaganda. I find it ironic that our newspapers accuse Bibi of cheap and cynical opportunism, while shamelessly taking this opportunity to promote their “don’t vote for Bibi” agenda, regardless of the facts.

I don’t always support Netanyahu as a politician. I often criticize his policies or questions his remarks. But today, my Prime Minister represented me magnificently, and I, for one, take my hat off in gratitude.

About the Author
Rachel is a Jerusalem-born writer and speaker who's in love with her city's vibrant human scene. She writes about Judaism, parenting and life in Israel for the Times of Israel and Kveller, and explores storytelling in the bible as a teacher and on 929.
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