Cliff Churgin

Too soon?

Netanyahu will eventually have to answer for abandoning those living near Gaza – he's already taking steps to insulate himself
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a primetime address, October 25, 2023. (GPO/Screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a primetime address, October 25, 2023. (GPO/Screenshot)

In November 2001, Comedian Gilbert Gottfried made what is considered the first public 9/11 joke. The joke was met with boos and hisses and finally one audience member shouted, “Too Soon.” The phrase quickly became part of the culture, used when somebody jokes about tragic events before enough time has passed or, as a humorous excuse for a failed joke.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of “too soon” for a couple weeks now. Not in the context of jokes, but in the context of criticism. As someone who enjoys commenting on social media about Israeli politics, I had a lot to say about our government, if one wants to call it that, in the wake of the horrific attack on October 7. My first thought was that one should hold off on political comments “while the cannons are firing.” 

However, the apparent failures of this government cry out for condemnation. And, let’s face it, we’re talking about Netanyahu, one of the world’s slickest politicians. I have no doubt that he’s spending most of his efforts on looking for a way to blame someone else for his government’s failures. 

He and his government, many of whom aren’t qualified to run a lemonade stand let alone a ministry, certainly don’t seem to be wasting their time governing. Most of the support that normally one would expect from the government is being supplied by volunteer organizations, staffed, to a large degree by leaders of the protest movement – you know, the anarchists. All this while the inept ministers and the lackeys sit in their offices focused on their next tweet. After all, tweeting is easy, governing is hard. 

And now Netanyahu is floating a trial balloon – that the investigation into the failures of October 7 will be conducted by a government commission of inquiry (Hebrew) and not by a state commission of inquiry. While that may sound like a bunch of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, there is a significant difference between the two. Crucially, a state commission of inquiry is managed by the president of the Supreme Court, has subpoena powers and is completely independent from the government. A government commission would be appointed by the government to (Spoiler Warning) to tell us that Netanyahu has never done a single thing wrong in his entire life and everything is everyone else’s fault.

And this government has plenty to answer for. Let’s start with one simple question. Can you imagine a situation where – heaven forbid – terrorists overran communities in Judea and Samaria and were able to conduct an hours-long murder spree? 

The fact that it could happen in the Gaza border communities is almost certainly a reflection of Netanyahu’s attitude of “our people” and the “others.” “Our people” – Settlers and Haredim – support Netanyahu unconditionally and in exchange receive almost anything they ask for, while the “others” stubbornly refuse to acknowledge Netanyahu’s greatness and in return, can go to hell from Netanyahu’s point of view. 

So when “our people” demand protection, that’s where the troops and security forces go. When “our people” demand weapons to protect themselves, that’s where the weapons go (Hebrew). If “our people” face threats, that’s where the soldiers go even if it means leaving the “others” vulnerable to attack. And if “our people” want to weaken the PA, the government will weaken the PA, even at the cost of strengthening Hamas terrorists

When reservists reported for duty, they were missing some of the most basic equipment. Why? One just has to look at the role of reservists in the protest movement to see why Netanyahu views these soldiers as part of the “others”. 

While some critics of Netanyahu are calling for his resignation, that’s unrealistic. But after the war, we cannot forget, or forgive this feckless, incompetent, divisive government and its role in the tragedy of October 7.  

About the Author
Cliff Churgin is a technical writer living in Jerusalem. He made Aliyah in 1983 and is married with four children.
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