Now You Crossed the Red Line, Bibi

I had to blink when I saw the inflammatory headline in Israel Today, the Right-wing Hebrew language daily newspaper, dated January 26th: Netanyahu: “Not the Zionist Camp, the Anti-Zionist Camp.” The italics are mine. So is the outrage.

Bibi Netanyahu has always demonstrated an uncanny knack for dividing every two Israelis against each other, but this time he really went overboard: Bibi accused his chief political opponents, who according to all the polls are running neck to neck with his own Likud party, of being against the State of Israel.

The tension on the northern border in recent days, especially after yesterdays’ Hezbollah strike against an IDF patrol that tragically killed two soldiers, has diverted the attention of most Israelis away from the upcoming elections, and rightfully so. When the lives of our soldiers are at stake the security issue becomes top priority and all partisan politics should take a backseat. Yitzhak “Buji” Herzog and Tzippi Livni were touring the Golan Heights yesterday along with IDF Generals Amos Yadlin and Eyal Ben Reuven at the time of the attack, and they weren’t up there campaigning for votes. Since the IDF strike in Quneitra last week that killed big brass Hezbollah terrorists and an Iranian general, Herzog and Livni have distanced themselves from those on the far Left who accused Bibi of deliberately heating things up for electoral purposes. In response to yesterday’s attack, Herzog the “anti-Zionist” said: “if anyone in Hezbollah believes that during elections we can be threatened and divided, he is gravely mistaken.”

Thank you, Mr. Herzog, for expressing the way all sane Israelis feel when we are attacked by our enemies, our true enemies, the ones who want to see us drown, not those among us who the jingoists and cynics so wrongfully accuse of being a threat to our one and only Israel.

Shame on you, Mr. Netanyahu, for calling this man, your prime challenger, a traitor, because that is exactly what you were implying with your disgraceful “anti-Zionist” epithet. And shame on you for spreading the myth that anyone who doesn’t agree with your politics is against Israel. I believe an apology is in order, Mr. Prime Minister. First, you should apologize to Herzog and Livni and their supporters, roughly half of Israel, for branding them as enemies of the state. Then you should apologize to your own supporters for your 2009 Bar-Ilan speech in which you falsely claimed that you stand by the two-state solution, for ever since you have done nothing to prove that you would support any such political alternative to our non-ending state of emergency. Next, you should apologize to all those IDF personnel, from the generals who publicly expressed their support for an ultimate political solution to the common soldiers who fought and bled on the battlefield while harboring hopes for a light at the end of the tunnel. And last but not least, you should apologize to all the parents of IDF soldiers, those who will vote for you and against you, for ruling out all hope for an end to this conflict while their children are still in uniform. As one such worried parent with two sons in the IDF, I am personally horrified by your remark that those who are not with you, i.e. the Zionist Camp, are against Israel. I think an apology is the least you can do. No worries, though; no one is holding their breath.

About the Author
Avi Shamir is a freelance writer, editor, translator and the author of "Saving the Game," a novel about baseball. A Brooklyn College graduate with a BA in English, Avi has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, The Nation, Israel Scene, In English and The World Zionist Press Service.
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