To Benjamin Netanyahu’s credit, we should first note that there are no wars during his terms in office. This was the case during his first term, and this may be the case in the second one as well.
He is a cautious man. Nahum Barnea referred to it as someone on early retirement. A man who does little and finds it difficult to make decisions. In respects to wars, his hesitation should be lauded.
With Olmert, an attorney more cunning than Bibi and a seemingly cautious man, we saw an eager trigger-finger and two bloody wars. Both of them brought global isolation upon us as well as numerous troubles, great suffering for the other side, and a disproportional number of casualties.
Those who believe that it is better to have a thousand people hurt on the other side rather than one person here should know that any kind of death comes with a heavy price, even if it happens later on. Mass deaths on the other side, beyond the moral aspect, come with a price that will be exacted from us in installments for many years to come. There is no free killing. Olmert left a heavy debt, and Goldstone is merely the actuary.
On the debit side, we should note that Bibi’s terms in office are usually periods devoid of hope, and hope is a vital resource for a nation’s existence. There are no wars with Bibi, but there is no peace either. There are no battles, but also no reconciliation. What we have is a limbo. An abyss. A vacuum that attests to something intriguing and terrifying about the inner world of this temporary ruler.
His periods in power are always confused, grim, and shrouded in dispute. As if he subscribes to an inquisition-like worldview where everyone is either being persecuted or playing the role of persecutor. There is no compromise or solution in this worldview. There is no peace or moderation. Hence, wars are merely postponed during his time and are passed on to the next in line.
I would not say that nothing has been done during his tenure. Privatization always gets a boost with him. The transfer of public wealth to private hands is reinforced. He is more of a money man that a man of war.
One grave sin
The credit side of having no wars may be counterbalanced by the price of the newly created poverty, yet there is one grave sin that already sticks out within his current term: The sin of appointing a sectarian, blunt and brutal man who is under investigation to the post of foreign minister.
While he goes through tense days of interrogation ahead of an indictment, Avigdor Lieberman shoots his mouth off vis-à-vis the rest of the world. He gets embroiled in conflict with allies and neighbors on our behalf. Just like a problematic friend you entrust with your apartment for a month while you go away on vacation; upon returning home you discover that he left scorched earth with all the neighbors.
The damage that may be caused by this man was clear to Bibi, and indeed, ever since he was appointed Lieberman is a sort of small Ahmadinejad for us. He makes noise, babbles, provokes arguments, and leaves a scorched path behind him as if saying: If I’m going to jail, you too will be imprisoned here without neighbors or an outlet to the world.
And what about the wars? They were merely delayed a little and will come around soon, immediately after Netanyahu’s term in office ends, like an old debt that needs to be paid. Yet this time it will be done without allies or good neighbors. We will be all alone.