The curious silence of Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump

Bibi Netanyahu likes to talk. He prides himself on his talk, his eloquence. And takes a special point of pride in his ability to do so in two languages. When it comes to languages, Bibi has two mothers. Hebrew and English.

What’s more, Bibi Netanyahu would probably tell you that this bilingual eloquence is part of what makes him uniquely suited to defend Israel and the Jewish people at home and in the world. Who wasn’t impressed by the brilliant rhetoric of his Congressional address? “Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror.” Sheer poetry. And his “ticking time bomb” at the United Nations? The whole world got his message. Loud and clear.

So why the silence? Why now? Why throughout an entire campaign peppered with and empowered by dog-whistled antisemitism, is he tongue-tied? He didn’t open his mouth about images of Stars of David on a backdrop of cash. He was mute in response to Richard Spencer’s revolting exclamation of “Hail Trump” — greeted by Nazi salutes — during a giddy celebration of Trump’s victory. He didn’t say a word about the prominent influence of Steve Bannon, a man who is perhaps the most cynical and successful purveyor of bigotry and anti-Semitism in the age of internet disinformation; a man who now sits within shouting distance of the Oval Office. He didn’t speak then and he’s not speaking now.

How is it possible that a man so vehemently committed to the sacred dictum of “Never Forget” says not a word when the purported leader of the free world issues a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day and “forgets” to mention Jews or anti-Semitism? How offensive is it that Mr. Trump erases Jews from the Holocaust when all we have left of six million of our brethren is their sacred memory? Does it merit a mention? Maybe before or after backslapping a kindred wall-builder?

And none of this, none of it, even begins to address the virulent irony that on this same day, on this backdrop of remembrance, the President of the United States of America issued an edict that bans an entire people, on the basis of their religion, from finding refuge in a country that has always defined itself as a shelter to all those otherwise abandoned by humanity. But I would not expect Mr. Netanyahu to comment on that particular outrage.

Shame on you, Mr. Trump. But shame on you as well Mr. Netanyahu, and your shame is one awarded with distinction. Hypocrisy.

About the Author
An American-Israeli who has lived in Tel Aviv for nearly 30 years. A born pessimist looking for reasons to be optimistic about the future of Israel and its neighbors.
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