Leave Bibi alone!!

It doesn’t matter if you love Bibi Netanyahu and you think he’s the second coming, or if you hate him and think he’s the worst thing since Saddam Hussein; it doesn’t matter if you agree with his policy on Iran, or if you disagree completely; whoever you are and whatever your opinions, one thing is certain, people have to start cutting the guy a break.

While I don’t know for certain, I’m pretty sure that in the history of Israeli politics, no politician had ever been scrutinized so brutally under the media’s lens, as PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

I understand and fully respect the media’s role as a watchdog; however, even the most trained watchdog knows when to bark. I believe that the current fiasco surrounding the Netanyahu family’s supposed “outrageous” expenses are not “bark-worthy”.

It’s like the entire country has ganged up to badger the PM about his water bill? What’s the deal?! Not only was every major Israeli news station running Bibi-bashing articles on this issue, international media sites also jumped at the opportunity, comparing Bibi’s large expenditures to those of the Obama family, not to mention the thousands of angry Facebook posts topped off by former State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s sharp remark, referring to Netanyahu’s heavy expenses as “sheer hedonism.”

Let’s break it down. According to recent reports, released at the behest of the Movement For Freedom of Information, Netanyahu’s three residences collectively cost taxpayers a little over three million shekels. Bearing in mind, the majority of these expenses (approx. 2.97 million NIS) were spent on his official premier residence, which aside from serving as a home to the PM and his family, also frequently hosts official functions and dinners, entertaining kings, emperors, presidents and the like – I mean, it’s not like he’s playing video-games with his chums, sipping beer with the air-conditioning running on high…he’s hosting the French president for a formal dinner, accompanied by some fine wine, grilled entrecote and talks on Iran – scandalous!

Bibi lighting Hanukkah candles  with his wife, Sara and their sons in the PM's residence in 1996.
Bibi lighting Hanukkah candles with his wife, Sara and their sons in the PM’s office in 1996.

It’s easy to criticize the PM. After all, when poverty is up and taxes are high, and everyone is looking for somebody to blame, it’s hard not to point fingers at a guy who’s spending almost 5,000 NIS a year on scented candles…complements of yours truly.

However, let’s not compare between us and him. Also, let’s not compare the Netanyahu’s to the Obama’s or to the royal family or to any other major world leaders. Let’s focus on Netanyahu: I’ve met and spoken to a number of people close to the PM over the years, and anyone who has ever worked closely to Netanyahu will tell you: Bibi is a hard man to work for. The guy has superhuman strength. He works like a dog and hardly ever sleeps, he rarely takes breaks and works well into the weekend. The problem is that Bibi thinks everyone is as gifted as him. But not only is Netanyahu the busiest person in the country, he is also responsible for running one of the most difficult to run countries in the world.

So come on, let’s cut the guy a break.

If he wants to make a large order of Pistachio ice cream so he can make it through his long working hours, who am I to stop him; if he wants to catch an hour or two of shuteye while hopping over to the UK, who am I to stop him; and if he likes to buy scented candles because the aroma makes him feel good and gives him the energy he needs to keep kicking ass, well than go right on burning your candles, Bibi.

PM Netanyahu is one of the most powerful men in the world and has been charged, by us, to run one of the most influential countries in the world. We would do best to spend less time criticizing his large expenditures, and shifting our attention to things that really matter, such as foreign policy, internal affairs and self-preservation.

Now, I know what you are thinking: it’s not about Bibi. After all, nobody actually thinks that Mr. Netanyahu is walking around the grounds of the PM’s residence, discussing with the gardener which gondolas will match with the blue in the PM’s seal. Everybody knows that the real problem is his other-half. Well dear friends, I’m here to tell you that whether you like her or not Sara Netanyahu is here to stay, so it’s time we start excepting her as a fact.

About the Author
Yitz Hammer lives with his wife and two children in Netanya; He made aliyah from the U.S. in 2000, studied in Otniel Hesder Yeshiva and served in the Combat Engineering Corps; Yitzy is currently studying towards an LL.B. in Law and a B.A. in Government at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliah, where he works as a research assistant in the subject of Jewish Law; Yitz's interests include photography, history, international law, music and writing. Most recently, Yitzy has joined the ranks of StandWithUs, the pro-Israel education and advocacy organization, as a participant in their Israel Fellowship.