It’s absolutely astonishing how one man can be responsible for so much misery. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He is at fault.
Bibi is to blame for the high cost of living in Israel. One can cavalierly hurl this accusation only by blithely ignoring Netanyahu’s fundamental economic achievements.
The fact that Netanyahu has kept the economy robustly healthy from a macroeconomic perspective, despite the ravages of global economic crisis; the fact that he has kept unemployment and inflation unprecedentedly low, and GDP and foreign reserves high, despite great strains on the public purse; the fact that his governments introduced free nursery, dental and negative tax programs for the lower and middle classes, while simultaneously having to dramatically increase the military budget as the Arab world crumbled and new threats skyrocketed – these stark realities are not relevant.
Bibi is to blame for the fact that “Milky” chocolate pudding desserts are more expensive in Israel than in Germany.
Another political leader – any leader, socialist or populist – would have magically brought down the cost of “Milky” as well as the cost of housing for all young families while easily ensuring true economic stability and prosperity for Israel. It’s so simple.
In a post-Netanyahu era, of course, no factories in Israel’s south will find themselves in financial difficulty. And if they do, a different political party will be there to generously bail them out with plenty of public cash (and that won’t come at the expense of the handouts to young middle class couples that are planned). It’s so obvious and simple.
According to many hypocritical critics, Netanyahu is to blame for Iran’s near-nuclear status. He should have put his money where his mouth is and bombed Qom and Isfahan three years ago, when he had a chance before Barack Obama was reelected. These are the same critics who all along admonished Netanyahu to work with the US administration and not take independent military action. And these are the same critics who would accuse Netanyahu of inflaming the region and precipitating a broader conflict if he were to act against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Either way, it’s Bibi’s fault. He is irresponsible and unreliable. Always has been and always will be.
Perhaps we should blame Netanyahu also for Obama’s progressive and pro-Islamist worldview, which seeks to give Iran a role as a “very successful regional power”? (Yes, Obama actually said this recently.) If only Bibi had been willing to concede land to the Palestinians, you know, Obama would have been tougher with the Iranians...
The same goes for the (badly mislabeled) Arab Spring upheavals, and the consequent instability on Israel’s southern and especially northern borders. If only Bibi had been more diplomatically accommodating, you know, the al-Qaida types that now inhabit Sinai and the Syrian Golan would have become sedate and satisfied neighbors.
But don’t worry, once Bibi is out of office and more refined Israeli leaders take the helm of state, the lamb shall lie down with lion and the radical Islamist monsters will retreat. Perhaps even Bashar Assad will catch the “kinder, gentler” bug from Israel’s new leaders and stop slaughtering his own people.
Don’t forget the Mossad-inspired shark attacks in the Red Sea of recent years, as reported widely in the Egyptian press. Needless to say, Bibi triggered them, too.
There is no peace with the Palestinians because of Netanyahu, right? Never mind that he froze settlements for a long time and was willing to negotiate major territorial compromises on the basis of the Obama-Kerry pre-’67- lines-with-land-swaps rubric. Never mind that the Palestinian Authority fled these negotiations, cut a unity deal with Hamas, and is running around the world seeking to demonize and criminalize Israel and to ram through unilateral “recognition” of Palestinian “statehood.”
Despite all this, Netanyahu gets the sole blame.
Bibi is to blame for tensions between Jewish and democratic principles that have come to the fore in recent years.
It’s not the fault of super-activist judges who have sought time and time again to sideline Jewish underpinnings of our legal system, or of ultra-liberal attorneys- general and legal advisers working to this end in lockstep with an unbalanced Supreme Court. It’s Bibi who has unleashed dark demons of radical conservative thinking on such critical constitutional matters.
The fact that it was Avi Dichter and Tzipi Livni of Kadima who first introduced a Jewish nation-state bill into the Knesset – a bill designed to anchor Israel’s Jewish values in concrete constitutional form, and a bill that was much more far-reaching than the version Netanyahu recently tried to advance – is conveniently ignored by the chattering classes. All’s fair in the war on Netanyahu, and anything he touches is automatically retrograde or fascist.
The fact that haredim are not serving in the army in sufficient numbers is Netanyahu’s fault, too. Of course, no Labor- or Kadima-led government over the past 65 years did anything to arrest the mushrooming phenomenon of haredi non-service, nor did they ever make a serious attempt to amend the status quo in place since 1948 and to draft the haredim.
Well, that’s not relevant. The responsibility for haredi draft-dodging lies solely with Netanyahu.
Wait! Didn’t the outgoing Netanyahu government just pass a potentially revolutionary haredi draft law? And isn’t there a real danger that a new government led by opposition parties in coalition with the ultra-Orthodox will roll back this important law? I guess that is not relevant in the overall gestalt that lays all ills at Netanyahu’s doorstep.
Tel Aviv air pollution is also Netanyahu’s fault, according to a serious study plastered recently across a full page in Haaretz. Technically, 33 percent of this pollution comes from industry, 24% from non-environmentally-friendly forms of electricity production, 25% from transportation, and 22% from quarrying. But overall and in principle, it is all Bibi’s fault.
If you don’t believe me, check out that paper. It has also blamed obesity in Israeli psychiatric facilities on the Netanyahu administration. Really.
Have you heard about typhoons Haikui, Saola and Damrey which battered China? Bibi’s fault, of course.
My point is this: It’s been a silly and nasty election season. Netanyahu’s opponents have taken to ridiculously faulting him for the most far-fetched ills of this world, instead of accurately and intellectually critiquing him, in proportionate fashion, for his many mistakes and weaknesses.
All the hyperbolic blaming of Bibi Netanyahu ought to be taken with a grain of salt.www.davidmweinberg.com