Jonathan Zausmer
Jonathan Zausmer

The time has come

The time has come,’ the Walrus said,

      To talk of many things:

Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —

      Of cabbages — and kings —

 

Let’s talk about kings. Namely one. King Bibi. His time has come. He had a long innings. Not all of it was bad. The master manipulator of all time in Israeli politics is finally about to meet his fate: exit from the castle at Balfour, a raging wife and son who control his purse-strings, and a possible prison sentence of several long years for bribery and corruption. Yet like the villain Nixon who lied and cheated and fell from grace, he has left a legacy that is not all negative. Netanyahu was no doubt one of the master politicians on the world stage: a stage filled with jokers, demons, pathological liars, crackpots, comedians and the occasional heroes of excellence. He strode the globe like a colossus, wheeling and dealing with the likes of Trump, Putin, Xi and others. His legacy regarding Israel’s position on the civil war in Syria, the non-interventionist role that he played with precision hits and actions only when needed, the brilliant use of medical assistance for those near our border who would have otherwise died on the battlefield, the restraint – yes restraint against wacko politicians calling for a new war in Lebanon – all that is to his credit. And more, such as the Abraham Accords and the wise interface with Pfizer. Ironically the guardian of the ultra-nationalist, expansionist, revisionist, colonialist settler movement, was the one who wheel-clamped by his own hand, any attempt at annexation of the West Bank as a condition of the Abraham Accords and open relations with the Emirates. The key to reopen such a move as annexation is lost and buried deep in the dunes of Abu Dhabi.  But he went a step too far. He saw himself as a Middle East Putin, sucking up wealth and endless power in secret, laughing and berating his enemies, encouraged by a team of apparatchiks and deaf to the ears of the people. The time has come. 

Battered from all sides, weary and disorientated, surrounded by sycophants and yesmen, we saw the beginnings of his end at the outset of the last Gaza war. He was at first, nowhere to be seen. I believe, in shock. 

Many a conspiracy theory has been touted, from laymen to ex-generals, politicians and talking heads, that King Bibi had it all planned: that he purposefully sent police onto the Temple Mount during Ramadan to insight insurrection and violence from Gaza; that he willfully somehow encouraged fanatic settlers to inflame the protest at Sheikh Jarrah. That he manipulated the closing of the Shehem Gate so as to hinder the Muslim pilgrimage to the Al Aqsa Mosque, and thus create a flashpoint of violence and protest. The conspiratorial logic here is that a conflict with Gaza would be the perfect remedy for Netanyahu’s failed election bid: the doubters and opponents would, by this theory flock back to the Likud, desert the various opposition parties to which they were a part of, and thus as the missiles rained down, a hard-right defense-focused government of national unity would form. End of problem. True, that nearly happened when Bennet withdrew from talks with Lapid during the crisis. But the final outcome that we know today was not, I believe, the routing of the Bibi “plan”.  The fact is that the man is but a mortal, and with all his strengths there are many weaknesses: his election downfall, his ongoing trial, his challengers in the Likud breathing down his neck, serious errors of judgment during the covid crisis, the demise of Trump, and big problems at home all contributed to losing his foothold, losing focus and ultimate failure. The facts are that Hamas saw an opening, made a fast, well-calculated decision, were prepared way beyond estimates (in my humble opinion) and thrust the region into a war, achieving a huge breakthrough: namely ownership of Palestinian loyalty regarding Jerusalem specifically, and popular support at large for the Palestinian cause locally in Israel, in the West Bank and generally way beyond Gaza. This was a stunning humiliating blow to Netanyahu personally. When you take all the credit all of the time, for everything — much of which is not personal but teamwork, and much of which was false credit at the expense of the working man and woman — the wild antics and demagoguery as his coalition bid failed, merely proves that. 

In 1968 an American psychiatrist by the name of Stephen Karpman came up with the concept of the Drama Triangle as an extension of something known as a conflict triangle. The idea is that in complex and dynamic relationships there are three roles: a victim, a rescuer and a persecutor. The victim is often unaware of his fragile condition. The rescuer can be an enabler causing more damage than good – in fact possibly manipulating the damage for his own good. And then you have the persecutor: aggressive, emotionless, accusatory while enjoying the riches they are provided. According to Karpman, these roles change between the three players as the dynamic progresses. I don’t think Lewis Carroll was dwelling on this in 1871 when he wrote “The Walrus and the Carpenter” however, to play with this analogy, there are three roles: A manipulating yet kind Walrus (makes out he is a rescuer, yet enables and manipulates), a morose greedy Carpenter (persecutor) and four little prawns (the victims of the trick, who get eaten). 

I’m not going to assign roles to an outgoing prime minister — so far he has managed to assign to himself the role of savior of the Jewish people; nor to his partners who enjoy the fruits of his labors; nor to those who get consumed by the system. I will leave that for you. One thing is for sure. Those roles are about to switch as the drama plays out.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.
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