Open letter to Netanyahu: Retire, save your legacy, or lose in disgrace

It is the highest mark of statesmanship to recognize when one has reached the pinnacle of political life, and that to cling to illusions will inevitably lead to an ignominious end.

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu, your long incumbency has created in your mind a sense of indispensability. (photo credit: FLASH90)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu, your long incumbency has created in your mind a sense of indispensability.
(photo credit: FLASH90)
Dear Prime Minister,
During your time of leading our country you have done a commendable job. In foreign policy you have excelled. You have opened up many parts of the world to Israel; in Africa, in South America and elsewhere. As a result, the economy has flourished.
Your excellent relationship and cooperation with President Trump created an atmosphere that culminated in the Abraham Accords, an excellent achievement that has placed Israel even higher among the ranks of respected powers of the Middle East and beyond. Direct air routes to several Arab countries are already in operation and it is expected that more will open.
Most importantly Prime Minister, your diplomatic skills have awakened the world to the intent and ambitions of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and you have repeatedly stated your determination to prevent their regime from developing nuclear weapons. At the same time you have assured the Iranian population that Israel’s intentions are not directed against them, but to prevent their evil leadership from plunging them into a disastrous war from which it would take years to recover. I know, Prime Minister, that in the meantime you are engaged in trying to shorten the fundamentalist oppression and curtailment of freedom of the Iranian people.
Under your premiership we have maintained an uninterrupted trading partnership with the countries of the European Union, and you are maintaining friendly contact with their leaders, even though they are not in total accord with your Iran policy.
This is the first time an Israeli prime minister has had to face the phenomenon of cyberwarfare, and you are doing your utmost to counter the attempts by Russia and China, both highly skilled in infiltrating our computer systems.
Our relations with China are particularly strained, because through our security apparatus you are trying to prevent the implantation of control devices into infrastructure projects in Israel in which China is commercially involved.
Then there is the COVID-19 pandemic, which is an additional burden on your leadership. You deserve thanks for having insured that Israel was among the first nations to have received a sizable supply of the vaccine developed by Pfizer following its approval by the UK. After it was certified safe by the US Food and Drug Administration, you led the country by being the first to accept vaccination and have tried to inspire confidence in the rest of the population to go for it when their turn comes. You are facing a difficult task in fighting Israeli resistance to maintaining an extended period of restrictions. However, I know that your intentions through these means – to bring this difficult situation under control – are honorable.
Nonetheless, Mr. Prime Minister, I am among those who believe that crowding returning citizens, particularly those with young children and the elderly, into isolation hotels is counter-productive when they have perfectly good homes to go to, where their isolation can be monitored if necessary.
I NOW WANT to come to our internal political situation and your part in it.
For all you have achieved in you many years at the political helm of our country, you deserve the highest praise. If, like in the UK, we had a House of Lords, you would certainly qualify for that elevation. But alas, the State of Israel can only bestow its highest honor, the Presidential Medal of Distinction of Israel, which you would richly deserve.
The country is now, for the fourth time in two years, about to go to the polls to elect yet another government. I am not going to discuss here the details of the shortcomings of the current and past two governments, except to state the obvious: They were unstable and unable to govern.
There is an old Yiddish proverb that loosely translated means, “Like the master of the house treats his dog, the rest of the household treats each other.” That, in a nutshell, says it all.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister, your long incumbency has created in your mind a sense of indispensability. That in turn caused you to act in ways counter to democratic norms. You often, when it was politically expedient, made promises that, to put it politely, you were for a variety of reasons unable to keep. Many would explain it differently. All of that – among other incidents – recoiled in the minds of the population and resulted in the cry of “Anyone but Bibi.” You heard it loud and clear.
That apart, it is clear that all your actions are colored by the fact that several criminal indictments against you are pending to be heard in court, and that you are desperately trying to avoid having to face the inevitable. Everyone is equal before the law, and there can be no immunity, however high the rank or position of the person. You have tried and failed.
Any reasonably intelligent person will understand that declaring and proving your innocence are uppermost in your mind, and that it is impossible even with the best will in the world to conduct the full-time affairs of day-to-day government, while at the same time dealing with a personal threat to your freedom. So concentrate on what is the most important for you and your family and remember that the Almighty is the ultimate judge.
It is the highest mark of statesmanship to recognize when one has reached the pinnacle of political life, and that to cling to illusions will inevitably lead to an ignominious end.
So, Prime Minister, take the opportunity of the forthcoming election to retire from political life so that you will be remembered by future generations as not only the longest–serving, but also arguably the most successful prime minister in Israel’s history. And please don’t spoil it by adding the failure of rejection as president.

The writer, at 97, is the world’s oldest active journalist and radio host. He presents Walter’s World on Israel National Radio (Arutz 7) and The Walter Bingham File on Israel Newstalk Radio. Both are in English.