You Can Still Be Hero If Only You Muster the Courage
By Alon Ben-Meir
NEW YORK, 21 April 2023 (IDN) — I can’t imagine how you must feel. Perhaps never throughout your political career have you faced a more fateful test in your life. You have placed yourself in an untenable state. If you win the battle over your judiciary “reforms,” you lose, as the public will never stand for it which you have just seen. If a compromise is achieved, you will still lose since you have shattered the public’s trust in you. And if you fail to attain your goal, you lose, for your government will certainly crumble.
You have lost your way. You believe that you are indispensable, and the country cannot survive without you. How wrong and self-conceited you must be because the country will be so much better off without you.
No matter how your ill-fated scheme to overhaul the judiciary comes to an end, its shadows will haunt you. Your past achievements will be buried under the stain of your twisted design unless you muster the courage to face the bitter truth and resign.
Your historic political demise began when you formed your current government, distributed ministry portfolios like candy. You gave in to a messianic cult, the likes of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, whose thirst for Palestinian blood is unquenchable.
You trapped yourself by these two incompetent degenerates, two renegades, who believe in the Jews’ spiritual supremacy as the Chosen People, and their divinely ordained right to inherit the whole land of biblical Israel. Two charlatans who seek to liquidate the Palestinians if they only could.
To dissuade Ben-Gvir—a convicted terrorist—from resigning in the wake of suspending the legislation, you treacherously endowed him with a private militia, free to terrorize Israeli Arabs and Palestinians under occupation, to bully and pester secular Israeli Jews.
You betrayed Israel’s founders’ vision and values, sacrificing the nation on the altar of your self-interest and voracious hunger for power only to escape justice, instead of standing tall and taking the blame. You have rendered yourself impaired, unfit to govern even if you prevail.
You have torn Israel’s social fabric, causing an ominous divide among the populace. Tensions between secular and Orthodox Jews are seething. The gulf between left and right is dangerously flaring, and the rift between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim is only widening. You have ignited unprecedented mass protests, and talk of unimaginable domestic strife, even civil war, is widely unfurling. You have now become a danger to Israel’s existence. And must now be deprived of retaining the levers of power.
In the short one hundred days of your misguided reign, you reduced Israel’s economy to a mere shadow. The value of the Shekel is sinking. Israel’s credit rating was downgraded. High-tech companies are migrating. Cost of living is skyrocketing. Foreign investments are dwindling. Israelis’ capital is flowing to overseas banks. So long as your evil plot to subvert the judiciary endures, Israel’s once-powerhouse economy will remain shackled. The onus falls on no one else but you, and for that you must pay the political price.
The defense establishment is rupturing. Thousands of reservists involving pilots, drone operators, cyber specialists and intelligence officers threatened to stop voluntary service. Discharging the defense minister for daring to fulfill his duty, when the country was facing an ominous danger, was a chilling imprudence that no soldier will forget.
Although you reinstated him admitting your blunder, the damage to the military’s morale will linger. You have betrayed the men and women who are always ready to put their lives on the line to protect the country, while you put the country on the line to protect yourself. You have lost their confidence and will never regain it again, and thus, admit to this awesome failure, as you have little choice left but to give up your reign.
Israel’s international standing is declining. You have alienated Israel’s staunchest European allies. Gravely damaged relations with the US—Israel’s closest supporter and friend. Harmed newly forged relationships with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco. Foreclosed any opening to normalize relations with other Arab states. Rattled Israel’s ties with Egypt and Jordan. Crushed any prospect for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.
Refusing to end the occupation has proven to be a defunct policy, and thanks to you the conflict will continue to simmer, claiming the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, falsely justifying it in the name of national security. Only by ending the conflict based on a two-state solution, which you vehemently oppose, will Israel be truly secure. But first you must get out of the way.
Israel’s enemies are watching with glee. As Israel implodes, they gloat and cheer. They need not invade or wage a war; through attrition and violent resistance they will exhaust Israel and weaken its deterrence. They will lay in wait with delight, and if you don’t end up burning the country down to the ground they will come from all directions and happily, will try to finish what you have started. The country must be united to face multiple foes, but unity will remain elusive as long as you are around.
Betraying the very reasons behind Israel’s creation has been the end result of your ominous control. The ingathering of the Jews in a Jewish state was the dictum the reason the aspiration of diaspora Jewry, irrespective of their religious leaning, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, or ultra-religious teaching.
But now your fanatic, extremist, and fascist ministers are squashing the affinity, the ties, the sense of belonging. The very fabric that held world Jewry together for millennia. You have alienated millions of Jews to whom Israel offers a home, a refuge when needed.
Your authoritarian design broke their spirit, the spirit of a multitude of Jews who suffered from persecution and oppression, under the reign of terror by despots in foreign lands. They dreamed of salvation, redemption, and freedom, not replacing servitude they suffered in distant lands, only to live back in shtetels dominated by religious fanatics under a would-be Jewish tyrant, no less. Your attempted coup d’état deserves nought but contempt. It is time to look in the mirror and ask yourself: Where do I go from here?
There is still a silver lining awaiting you. During your decades-long illustrious political career, you have accomplished many splendid deeds. You put Israel on the map as an inventive powerhouse. Strengthened the Israeli economy as Finance Minister. Invested heavily in making the IDF a formidable military machine. Signed gas exploration deals that turned Israel into an energy exporter. Normalized relations with UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, under the Abraham Accords. Attracted foreign investments in the high technology sector, making Israel a global technological giant. Expanded relations in Latin America and Africa among many other notable accomplishments.
Having achieved all of that and some you must admit to yourself that being under several indictments limits your ability to govern. You are being dragged by lunatics you put in position of power, rather than controlling events and zealously guarding what’s best for the country. Stop pursuing your wretched reforms of the Judiciary and begin to bridge the alarming deep divide that pits one segment of your fellow citizens against another.
How do you want to be remembered, Mr. Netanyahu? As the villain who was willing to burn down the lone Jewish home for which the Jews yearned for centuries, only to save his skin? Or as the statesman who erred but rose to the historic occasion, to save the only refuge that unites and protects the collective body of the Jewish people?
Face the nation. Muster the courage and speak to your countrymen. I admit, say you. I have made many mistakes and committed crimes. I offer no excuses. But like all mortals I am not exempt from human frailty. I confess, I am terrified of a likely conviction and jail time. I was wrong, very wrong trying to manipulate the laws, to vindicate myself, though I was rightfully charged. I know I must now pay the price. I will resign my post as prime minister and beg the nation to forgive me. Let me exit with some dignity, by dropping the charges against me, albeit undeservingly.
This will be the greatest gift to the nation, for its 75th Independence Day. Help heal the country and make this your finest hour. Rise above the fray and exit the political scene as a hero. If you only can muster the courage. And if you do what’s best for the country in this trying hour, I know in my heart of hearts the nation will forgive you.
*Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a retired professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He taught courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies for over 20 years. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: From left to right: Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Religious Zionism head MK Bezalel Smotrich. Credit: Avshalom Sassoni | Flash90. Source: The Times of Israel.
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