Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted the careless approach of some of his predecessors, reassuring Israelis that “everything is gonna be alright.”
Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2018.
Associates of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on the morning of April 30 that he was about to reveal amazing facts related to the Iranian nuclear agreement. That evening, Netanyahu addressed the public on live TV, exposing files and CDs retrieved by Mossad agents. This well-orchestrated “performance” of Netanyahu was also accompanied by a slide show.
What was going through the mind of Netanyahu when he decided to summon the international and Israeli media for his standup performance? Did he assume that his tiresome, childish presentation would blind viewers to the fact that he was selling them used goods? Could he have hoped that the fake drama he engineered based on secret Iranian nuclear files would convince the leaders of Europe, China and Russia to jettison the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran? Might Netanyahu have believed that he was presenting US President Donald Trump with the “smoking gun” enabling him to withdraw from the pact come the May 12 deadline for his decision?
One frightening answer to these questions is that Netanyahu is riding high on the Iranian files to divert attention from the police investigations dogging him and his wife. An equally frightening answer lies in a speech delivered in 1992 by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to top military brass, blasting the ubiquitous Israeli panacea “yihiye beseder,” Hebrew for “everything will be fine” — in short, “It’s OK.”
“This phrase, which many of us hear in Israel’s day-to-day life, is intolerable. These two words usually conceal all the things that aren’t OK: arrogance and an exaggerated feeling of self-confidence, power and authority, which are uncalled for,” Rabin said.
So what if the public finds out that the covert “revelations” in Netanyahu’s presentation are already incorporated into the overt reporting of the International Atomic Energy Agency? It’s OK. And what will we do if these “revelations” result in an abrogation of the nuclear agreement and renewal of the Iranian nuclear program? Not to worry, it’s OK. What if the “revelations” convince Trump that the Iranians must not be trusted and the United States and Israel are dragged into a made-in-Israel war? No worries, it’s OK. “Unfortunately, the ‘hafif’ atmosphere,” Rabin said — using the Arabic vernacular for “carelessness” — “is eating us up.” And even though we have learned the hard and painful way that “everything will be fine” means that a lot of things aren’t OK, the carelessness modus still dominates us.
Following is an additional example of the irresponsible, careless attitude displayed by the prime minister over the past week. On April 28, the Israel National News website reported that fans of the Premier League soccer club in the Arab-Israeli town of Sakhnin were heard whistling and booing during a moment of silence in memory of 10 Israeli youths from a pre-military academy killed in flash floods while hiking. According to the bulletin of the conservative right, “the derogatory whistling was heard loud and clear.” It even quoted fans who said they felt they were “deep inside the area of the Palestinian Authority and not in Israel.” The following day, radical right-wing lawyer Itamar Ben-Gvir reportedly lodged a complaint with the Israel Football Association against the Bnei Sakhnin club.
At noon, Netanyahu’s Facebook page posted the report, headlining it “disgraceful.” Without asking his army of aides and spokespeople to check the veracity of the report, Netanyahu demanded that “all public leaders — Jews and non-Jews alike — strongly condemn this shameful conduct.” However, three sports writers present at the stadium said they had not heard a single whistle. The owner of the rival Hapoel Ra’anana team, Asher Alon, who was also present at the site, said the fans’ behavior was exemplary. “I would have expected the prime minister to check rather than to spread unjustified hatred,” Alon said, demanding that Netanyahu apologize to Bnei Sakhnin. To date, no apology has emerged from the prime minister’s office; Netanyahu was surely busy rehearsing for his standup dedicated to the salvation of the Israeli people. Only four days later was the post removed from Netanyahu’s Facebook page.
In fact, the “disgraceful’’ post of Netanyahu showed not only the report about Bnei Sakhnin, but also contained the headline about the flooding. And so, the April 26 flood drowning tragedy, nonchalantly linked to the ongoing delegitimization of Israel’s Arab citizens, also became a victim of the “it’s OK” disease. The media broadcast warnings about flooding in the dry, southern riverbeds? The academy counselor said everything would be fine. The weather service suggested postponing hikes in the treacherous Negev Desert wadis prone to flash floods at the time of year? The officials at the Ministry of Education’s situation room knew all would be well. But how can we complain about a youth counselor and government clerks when the country’s leadership has turned the quick draw into an accepted norm?
For years, successive Israeli governments abetted the crowding of African asylum-seekers into the disadvantaged neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv. Then they encouraged the veteran residents to eschew the newcomers. In early April, we heard Netanyahu announce a superb agreement with the United Nations on the asylum-seekers issues. Several hours later, that same Netanyahu announced the premature death of the fledgling deal.
Netanyahu and the political right did not invent the “it’s OK” syndrome. Rabin himself and the Labor Party he headed showed them the way. The settlement enterprise launched on their watch is an intrinsic example of catastrophic carelessness. Back in the 1960s, when Israel took control of Palestinian territories in the 1967 Six-Day War, there were those who warned against sinking in the mud of the occupation. It’s OK, Rabin and his Labor Party colleagues Shimon Peres, then-minister of defense, and Yisrael Galili said, and approved the establishment of the settlement of Ofra. They were warned that ruling another people would eventually result in apartheid. They said everything would be fine and signed the plans for the establishment of the settlement town of Ariel. On the eve of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Israel was informed by an Egyptian agent, Ashraf Marwan, that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was about to send troops to cross the Suez Canal into the Israeli-held Sinai Peninsula. It’s OK, not to worry, most of the generals told Prime Minister Golda Meir.
The irony is that the “it’s OK” ailment cost Rabin his life. In the year that preceded his 1995 assassination, the corridors of the Shin Bet agency buzzed with reports of intentions to attack the prime minister who was making peace with the Palestinians, and pronouncements to that effect were heard. Although they were aware of the risk, those responsible for guarding Rabin did not change their security protocols.
The accepted method of curbing the “it’s OK” threat is to bolster the decision-making circles around officials and institutions empowered to determine people’s fate. And what does Netanyahu do? He pushes forward a bill that strips the government of authority to declare war and transfers the power to the prime minister and defense minister. Israelis can only raise their eyes heavenward and pray — that everything will indeed be OK.
Trump hails ‘big week’ for historic move; ‘Congratulations to all,’ he tweets ahead of May 14 opening
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 11, 2018, ahead of its opening on May 14 (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony.
“We are so excited,” Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”
‘Next time in Jerusalem,’ jubilant Barzilai yells after victory; ‘Toy’ marks Israel’s 4th win; hundreds jump in Rabin Square fountain to celebrate; PM calls her ‘best ambassador’
Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/ Francisco LEONG)
Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as singer Netta Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international song contest with women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”
Backed up by three dancers, her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves
Quoted by US president one day, hosted by Russia’s president the next, PM is on a high, including in the polls. But will this encourage his more divisive tendencies?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
JTA — On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu began his week by meeting his Cypriot and Greek counterparts to finalize the commercial export to Europe of Israeli gas that he has pushed to exploit for about a decade.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal with Iran was widely seen as a coup for Israel’s prime minister, a fierce opponent of the deal.
The same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel seized Iran’s archive of its military nuclear program in Tehran and spirited it to Israel, a video was posted of IDF soldiers singing Soltane Ghalbha, a traditional Persian love song – in Persian.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate the purpose of Netanyahu’s presentation.
Netanyahu’s detractors in the US and Israel called his presentation as a dog and pony show. “He didn’t tell us anything we haven’t known for years,” they sniffed.
Moreover, they insisted, Netanyahu’s presentation was actually counterproductive because he couldn’t show evidence that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal it concluded in 2015 and so did nothing to persuade the Europeans to abandon the deal.
While US policy-makers are trying desperately to stabilize Afghanistan, a shift is being orchestrated by China.
The Chinese evidently see their role in Afghanistan as the “good cop” versus the U.S. role as “bad cop.” Like Pakistan, China seems to view the Taliban as the political opposition, not as a terrorist organization, and has offered itself as an intermediary to negotiate the departure of the U.S. and, thereby, be in a position to reap the economic and geopolitical benefits of Afghanistan as a client state of the China-Pakistan alliance.
Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.
This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”
What would happen if the world took Pope Francis’ advice (via a tweet)? “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war,” said the pontiff.
While on the surface, the disappearance of all weapons might suggest the inability to do violence, in reality, it would mean the certain annihilation of the West as a civilization.
When a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the police after two black men refused to leave, the chain of events ended with the burnt taste of the overpriced coffee chain colluding with anti-Semitism.
Starbucks reacted to the brief arrest by blaming the police, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is African-American, initially said that his officers, “did absolutely nothing wrong”. But then he was forced to offer a bewildering apology to the arrested men, the officers and the entire city.
“It is me who in large part made most of the situation worse than it was,” he announced.
“Your threshing season will last until your grape harvest, and your grape harvest will last until the time you plant. You will have your fill of food, and you will dwell securely in your land” (Vayikra 26:5).
This blessing is promised to the People of Israel on condition that, as a unified nation, they observe the laws of the Torah and live by its spirit. Its promise is quite surprising. Not only will the Israelites have plenty to eat but, as the verse clearly indicates, the Jews will experience an overflow of food. The first season, when produce is brought to the threshing floor, will last until the days of the grape harvest, which in turn will continue into the planting season.