You are the most important Jew in the world.
In the US no one calls the nation’s leader Donald. But Israeli Jews—-as well as many US Jews—-call you Bibi. This is no accident.
We call you Bibi because we instinctively understand that you are one of the most important people in our lives—-even though we have never met you. Our connection to you is personal.
That may be because there are so few of us Jews in this world—just 14 million or so. That is just two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population. But mostly it’s because our position in the world is precarious and we know that come what may, Israel is our anchor in stormy seas. And you are the face of Israel.
We Jews Need Israel
The Arab world—-where Jews found safe haven for millennia—-has now been rendered almost Jew-free by people who hold deeply anti-Jewish sentiments. Just now things don’t look rosy in the west either. Jews in Britain talk openly about leaving the nation of their birth if the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic Labor Party wins the next election. In France there are violent anti-Semitic attacks every day and every Jewish institution is forced to rely on armed guards. Jewish cemeteries don’t warrant armed protection—-but they too often experience toppled gravestones and spray-painted swastikas.
Anti-Jewish attacks are becoming increasingly common in many other European countries such as Sweden and Germany. Worse yet, politicians and journalists conspire to hush this up. If that isn’t proof that we Jews are on our own—-what is?
For most of US history, American Jews felt safe. Now that time is over. According to 2017 FBI statistics, although Jews are only 1.8 percent of the population, we are 58 percent of the victims of religiously-motivated hate crimes. Recently this was brought home to American Jews by two deadly synagogue shootings.
There is also the matter of three millennia of Jewish history. During the Second World War, my own family, residents of Poland, were forced from one location to the next as the Germans mercilessly rounded up the Jews. These roundups preceded the final killings that few of my family members survived. This has been the history of Jews in many corners of the world.
Where are we safe? Where can we thrive, free of persecution and threat? Today there is only one corner of the world that fits the bill. And that little corner is the nation that you lead.
That is why you are the most important Jew in the world.
Our fate as Jews is inextricably bound to Israel. And you are the most important person in determining the success of Israel.
Israel Needs You, Bibi
In your many years as Israel’s leader, you have transformed it from an inefficient socialist economy to a world economic leader. Israel’s standard of living is the envy of the world. Israeli companies make up a large segment of the listings on the world’s stock exchanges, greatly out of proportion to Israel’s miniscule size. You have maintained the most effective military force in the world and managed to establish enough deterrence to keep our powerful enemies at bay. By creating economic and military ties with nations across the world, you have made tiny Israel indispensable to countries that represent hundreds of millions of people. Thanks in large part to your encouragement of a free market system, Israeli technology is the envy of the world. It is widely sought after—-even by our enemies. Israel has revolutionized fields as diverse as medicine, agriculture, defense, space exploration, and water management. In the process, the lives of millions of people around the world have benefitted.
Can We Talk?
Bibi, we need to have a heart-to-heart talk about ethical leadership.
Any time an Israeli leader strays from the ethical path, he risks ruin for the Jewish people. Unethical leaders feed anti-Semitic tropes about devious Jews who enrich themselves and manipulate the world around them for personal benefit. They also weaken Israel—-its economy and its moral standing in our own eyes and those of the world.
Bibi, the press has been full of ethics charges against you. Ominously, they are numbered like a countdown to disaster.
Case 1000. This seems to be the most trivial of the cases leveled against you. Israel’s attorney general has accused you of accepting expensive gifts—-jewelry, champagne and cigars—-from powerful individuals. Reporters have written that you sometimes demanded these gifts.
It is impossible to know if these individuals solicited—-or received—-special favors from you. You have committed no crime, because there are no laws against such gifts. I am glad of that. But even the appearance of special favors in return for gifts, damages the functioning and spirit of the country. Is that really worth a bunch of trinkets, cigars and wine?
In Case 2000 you allegedly bargained with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth for favorable news coverage in exchange for promoting a law that would disadvantage Yedioth Ahronoth’s major news rival. This charge also is less than convincing to me. After all, the Knesset never passed any law that would benefit Yedioth Ahronoth’s business. And it is not unusual for politicians to discuss news coverage—-including coverage about themselves—-with reporters and journalists.
Case 4000 is far more serious. I don’t know what to think about it. In this case, Israel’s attorney general allegedly will file charges accusing you of conspiring with business mogul, Shaul Elovitch. The accusation is that you agreed to ease regulations of his telecommunications company in exchange for positive coverage on Elovitch’s news website. One reporter claimed that this deal is singularly responsible for Israel’s slow internet speeds. If that is true, then you have done great damage to Israel’s economy and institutions.
Added to these scandals are allegations (in one case resulting in an out-of-court settlement) that your wife Sara abused housekeeping employees and illegally charged meals to the prime minister’s spending account.
The Bottom Line
I have not seen the evidence against you and I am not a lawyer. So I cannot pass judgment on the validity of the charges against you.
All I know is that Israel needs you, now more than ever. Bibi, we are counting on you.
Please don’t let us down.