Late former US vice president Hubert Humphrey said it best when he declared that
“To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.” Humphrey, who ran
unsuccessfully for president of the United States against Richard Nixon, was
obviously talking about another time and place. But his words ring true in
Millions of Israelis will be going to synagogues on Yom
Kippur and striking their chests as they recount their sins and engage in soul
searching. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to attend services,
like he does every Yom Kippur.
What is he going to be thinking about as
he ponders the past year and the year ahead?
The Talmud Tractate Shabbat says
that Binyamin, the son of Jacob, was one of only four people who never sinned –
the others being Moses’s father Amram, King David’s father Jesse, and Kilav the
son of David. It says that God rewarded Binyamin for his saintliness by
locating the holiest section of the Holy Temple in his territory in the Land of
Listening to the people closest to Binyamin’s namesake, the prime
minister would seem to be so pure that he deserves the entire Holy Temple in his
house on the corner of Balfour and Smolenskin streets.
problems Israel is facing today, Netanyahu’s associates provide relatively
convincing explanations as to why not a single one of them is the prime
The lack of a peace process with the Palestinians?
Well, everyone acknowledges that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
is at fault for that, especially following the events at the United Nations two
“Netanyahu wants to bring peace and advance the two peoples
living in peace and security side by side, but for that you need a partner for
dialogue, and unfortunately there isn’t one right now,” a source close to
Netanyahu said. “Over the past two-and-ahalf years, Netanyahu urged the
Palestinians to come to the table in speeches at Bar-Ilan University, Congress
and the UN and he froze [settlement] construction, but they unfortunately still
Israel’s increasing isolation following the Arab Spring?
“He doesn’t feel any blame for the Arab Spring but he’s not arrogant about it
either,” the source said. “He is maintaining contact with the Egyptians to make
sure Israel’s peace deal with Egypt is upheld. We are proud that Israel has
maintained its democracy and stability.”
Deteriorating relations with
Turkey? That’s obviously the fault of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan. A Kelim Shluvim poll published in Ma’ariv
last weekend found that a
whopping 86 percent of Israelis oppose apologizing to Turkey for the deaths of
nine Turkish militants on the Mavi Marmara.
“We have nothing to feel
guilty about,” the source close to Netanyahu said. “We feel bad that people were
killed on the Marmara. We didn’t want our relations with Turkey to
How about all those demonstrations and protest tents on the
streets this summer? “We can enter the fast with a relatively clean conscience,”
the source said. “There [are things that need] to be fixed. Netanyahu is
obligated to ease the gaps between rich and poor and to make sure hardworking
people receive proper benefits for their labor. As prime minister, he’s
responsible for these things. That’s why he formed the Trajtenberg
Committee with its NIS 2.5 billion in recommendations. But the
blame for the problems raised by the protesters are shared by all Israel
governments going back to the beginning.”
And this week’s failure to pass
the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations in the cabinet? “That’s not
[Netanyahu],” the source said.
“Ministers and political officials
prevented him from holding the vote, but he will pass Trajtenberg very
Other sources describe what happened with Sunday’s non-vote as
more of a political mess.
Netanyahu called Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman in Kiev in the morning and received a commitment that Israel
Beiteinu’s ministers would abstain on the Trajtenberg Report if Shas would too,
a move that would have allowed it to pass. Lieberman then leaked to radio
reporters that Shas would cave before Netanyahu had a chance to talk to party
chairman Eli Yishai.
Yishai heard about how he intended to vote on the
radio and was angry.
When Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov reported back
to Lieberman that Shas wasn’t abstaining, Lieberman instructed his ministers to
vote against the report. Vice Premier Silvan Shalom and his ally,
Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled, who both bear grudges against Netanyahu,
knew of Lieberman’s and Shas’s opposition and used the opportunity to score
In short, Netanyahu doesn’t believe he is to blame for
what screaming headlines in the Hebrew papers on Monday called a fiasco and a
Unlike Netanyahu, who does not believe he is to blame for
anything, opposition leader Tzipi Livni believes that Netanyahu is to blame for
literally everything. She has accused Netanyahu of mishandling Trajtenberg, the
tent protests, the Arab Spring, Turkey, and of course the peace process with the
“He is supposed to decide what Israel is doing and where
the country is heading,” Kadima MK Nachman Shai said. “If he’s not to blame for
anything or responsible for anything, what is he doing there in the Prime
Minister’s Office? He should leave the job for someone who is willing to lead
and stop leaving the country on auto-pilot.”
So with Netanyahu and Kadima
disagreeing on whom to blame, who is right?
God is supposed to decide everything
on Yom Kippur. The voters will have to wait for next Election Day to give
Meanwhile, Hubert Humphrey gives a logical answer: “You
cannot go around and keep score,” he said. “If you keep score on the good things
and the bad things, you’ll find out that you’re a very miserable person. God
gave man the ability to forget, which is one of the greatest attributes you