Israel Elections: Netanyahu's latest stinking maneuver - comment

Don’t get me wrong, Bibi was an excellent prime minister in many ways. I admire and appreciate what he’s done. But I do not want him to be prime minister a third time. 

 LIKUD PARTY head Benjamin Netanyahu, Oct. 3. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
LIKUD PARTY head Benjamin Netanyahu, Oct. 3.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

There’s a new Likud campaign video with Bibi Netanyahu joining a choir singing the prayer for the well-being of Israel’s soldiers. There’s nothing more that unites Israelis than support for our soldiers. However, the video set a new low, even for Bibi and Likud. Rather than competing for ideas, something at which Bibi truly excels, they lowered the bar so much that it’s hard to imagine even the most disgusting campaign tactics getting lower. 

It’s not because Bibi really isn’t known as a religious person and that he’s standing there awkwardly singing along, outfitted in a kippa and tallit that just make him look like a prop. We know he’s not religious. To whom is he appealing, pretending like this? 

What’s particularly offensive is that the tune to which the prayer for the soldiers is sung is the tune of the music of Operation Thunderbolt, the movie about the heroic 1976 rescue of Israeli and Jewish hostages in Uganda in which Bibi’s older brother Yoni – an actual hero – died. For those paying attention, Bibi is not only setting himself up as a defender of the defenders, but as a hero in the likes of his brother. A bousha, an embarrassment. If being Israel’s longest-serving prime minister is not enough, now he’s trying to make us think he’s a hero like his dead brother.

Don’t get me wrong, Bibi was an excellent prime minister in many ways. That cannot be taken away from him. Nor should it be. His first term was less than spectacular, but his second and much longer term had many things upon which he can hang his kippa, even if it looks like a prop in a B-rated film. I admire and appreciate what he’s done. But I do not want him to be prime minister a third time. 

I do not want Netanyahu to be prime minister of Israel again

I used to think differently, but now Bibi has burned even this former Likud member and voter. If my conversations with others are any indication, there are many more of us than the polls indicate. 

REGARDING THE soldiers and the image of Bibi depicting himself as a hero and their defender, it was only five months ago that Bibi and Likud did something treacherous, using the soldiers as a prop rather than showing genuine support. 

A new law was introduced to provide 75% scholarships to soldiers. One would think that it would have passed by a wide plurality, across the parties in the government and the opposition. Sadly, a law that ought to be supported by the overwhelming majority of Israelis became a cause of political divisiveness. 

In defense of their dirty trick, Bibi’s choir chimed in. Miri Regev, one of Bibi’s loudest off-tune backup singers, declared, “We decided as a party that we’re going to be a fighting opposition and that we want to bring down this government. So there are no stomachaches [when voting against] soldiers or battered women or cases of rape because we all understand that this is the rationale.” 

Yuval Steinitz added that supporting this bill to benefit combat veterans would risk leading to cooperation with the government on other bills, God forbid, aiding “widows, orphans, the periphery, a million and one disabled people, the sick, the elderly, and Holocaust survivors.” 

The shameful thing is that this is a law that could, and should, have been enacted during the last 12 years that Bibi was prime minister. Every Likud member should have reflexively supported it. It never should have been a political vote, and for sure never should have been a vote about embarrassing or bringing down the government. 

Instead, Bibi’s Likud was anything but heroic, plotting to sell out the needs of our soldiers and most disadvantaged simply to discredit the government. Maybe it’s not treasonous legally, but it is beyond reproach. 

Shortly afterward, Bibi and the Likud used another stinking maneuver against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria by voting against the renewal of a law that had been passed every five years for decades – to maintain Israeli status over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and their residents. Had the law failed, Israelis in Judea and Samaria would essentially become stateless, not eligible for public services, not required to serve in the military, and not able to vote, among other things. 

It was only the dissolution of the government that saved that from actually happening. In this case, a Netanyahu was the hostage taker not a rescuer, and it was Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid who were the “settlers’” improbable heroes. 

Bibi’s Likud cynically played this community for its own political design. Forget that after a dozen years of rule – where promises were made and broken regarding the granting of sovereignty to Judea and Samaria – Likud was prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater for their own interests. 

Had Bibi allowed a budget to be brought to a vote and passed, the crazy thing is that Bibi would still be prime minister today, with the rotation with his stilted former partner Benny Gantz not taking place until next month. But Bibi played Gantz and the rest of us, blocked a budget, and did irreparable harm. 

WE’RE GOING into election number five within three and a half years, thanks to Bibi’s plotting. It feels like a banana republic. If he comes back for a third term, he’s not going to be jet-setting off to Moscow to pow-wow with Vladimir Putin, so the relationship he may have cultivated doesn’t matter. 

If Trump is reelected in 2024, it seems that Bibi’s welcome mat may be rolled up and put away. Bibi accuses everyone of being weak on Iran, but even after drawing red line after red line, let’s remember that the ayatollahs are still churning their centrifuges and running toward the goal to produce a nuclear weapon that Bibi didn’t stop.

Of course, it’s laughable (but not funny) that Bibi and the Likud blamed the government for making a coalition with the Arab Ra’am party. This was disingenuous and divisive at best, because Bibi was prepared to make a deal to have Ra’am join a coalition under his authority, and probably would still shamelessly appeal to them again if he needed Ra’am to prop him up. 

If you can stomach Bibi as prime minister again, zei gezunt. But if not, and you are ideologically inclined toward one of the parties that will sprint to be in a government with him as prime minister, you should think twice. Bibi will sell them out, too. 

He’s already committed to funding the haredi schools, despite their not teaching core-curriculum requirements, in exchange for their non-ideological support to bring him back for round three. Voters thinking they will be getting a right-wing government should know that some 20% of the seats of such a government will be controlled by people who will sell out to the highest bidder, are most definitely not right-wing, and not even Zionist. So much for a right-wing government. 

There’s a saying in Hebrew, “Pa’am shlishi, gleeda.” Third time ice cream. The idea is that after a third occurrence of something, the participants share something sweet and tasty. The reelection of Bibi a third time will be anything but sweet. It will be more like pa’am shlishi, bousha. Third time an embarrassment. ■

The writer is president of the Genesis 123 Foundation and RunforZion.com, building bridges between Jews and Christians. [email protected]