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Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: Omer Maron
Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: Omer Maron
 
 

Should Bibi speak at UN?

Head to head: Two views on whether PM Netanyahu should deliver speech at UN

Hanoch Daum and Uri Misgav
Published: 09.21.11, 11:17 / Israel Opinion

Hanoch Daum – Yes

I’ll start with an astute estimate: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations will include some kind of brilliant move. It will be a good speech with at least one surprising element, and it will be delivered by an orator who is familiar with this theater and who knows a thing or two about facing a hostile crowd.

 

Those who oppose this speech in fact oppose an Israeli prime minister’s right to present the narrative he believes in to the world. This is a defeatist yet legitimate view, which I reject out of hand. In my view, at a time when the entire region faces a thunderous storm, Israel would do well to use a heavy anchor to stabilize our vessel in the stormy sea.

 

Here is a proposal: In two weeks time, once the current events are behind us, go into the op-ed section of Haaretz and quickly review the terrifying prophecies articulated there about what Israel can expect in September. Read about the diplomatic tsunami, about Israel’s isolation, about the all-out war and about the expected Palestinian victory at the UN.

 

After you read it, ask yourselves how it could be that instead of all those terrible things, it was the Palestinians who were isolated, who were slammed by America, and who headed to the UN with a bang but returned with a whimper.

 

The Palestinians, in the view of Israel’s naysayers, embarrassed our government and caught it off guard. Well, we are so unprepared that it now looks like the Palestinians won’t even secure a Security Council majority, sparing the US the need to use its veto power.

 

Meanwhile, the terrorism that was supposed to hit us appears to resemble two-day riots. The defense establishment does not currently see great motivation for another round of bloodshed in the West Bank. And what about Gaza? There you shall always find a desire to kill us, and precisely for this reason we spend billions every year on Iron Dome and similar desserts.

 

So I hereby apologize to all the doomsayers who forget that in Israel only leftist governments embark on needless wars and ask everyone to listen to what our prime minister says at the UN. Sometimes it’s very nice to see your prime minister doing the right thing. In this case, where the right thing is also the wise thing, there is no reason whatsoever to whine.

 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Gil Yohanan) 

 

Uri Misgav – No

Benjamin Netanyahu made a name for himself at the United Nations, where he served as a quick-witted ambassador who excelled at explaining Israel’s diplomatic foot-dragging in the 1980s. During this period he gained fame and was perceived to be a rising star. We are paying the price of that rise to this day.

 

Now, Netanyahu apparently seeks to close the circle and return to the glory days of yore. There’s nothing like a little sweet nostalgia, especially when the present is so grim. In the current slang we would refer to it as “so ‘80s.”

 

So what is Netanyahu actually seeking at the General Assembly this week? The results of the vote on recognizing a Palestinian state are known in advance after all. Bibi is not deluding himself into thinking that he would be able to convince anyone there, and he also has no intention of surprising everyone with a speech that will reshuffle the deck.

 

Netanyahu already announced that he will say nothing new; rather, he will be explaining “our truth” to the world. He even rushed to declare that he will skip the group photo. For the purpose of not being photographed alongside Ahmadinejad and again reciting “our truth,” Likud style, there is no reason to send Netanyahu; we can make do with a junior government member like Gilad Erdan.

 

Notwithstanding his well-documented affinity for business trips, it is unclear why Netanyahu is eager to drag himself into public humiliation in Manhattan. Over the years, his critics pointed to many flaws in his personality and conduct, yet masochism was not a part of the list.

 

In fact, if one adopts Netanyahu’s worldview, it is harder to understand his decision to travel to New York. If the whole world is always against you, why should you insist on allowing this world to slap you? The prime minister would do well to give up the speeches in favor of action; he should stay in Israel and cope with the results of his policy.

 

After all, there is no arguing the facts: This is a planned hazing ceremony whose results are known in advance. Hence, one may also wonder, without being accused of pettiness, whether this expensive trip, which entails great travel, hospitality and security expenses, does not constitute a blatant waste of public funds.

 

In the past we were told that the Prime Minister’s Office sought to install a double bed aboard Air Force One. Yet in light of the endless rise in the number of advisors around Netanyahu, we can assume that we must now remove the bed in order to enable everyone to make it to New York.

 

So many whispering aides are surrounding the prime minister, while bearing a façade of self-importance, that time and again one wonders: Is there really nobody there who can advice Netanyahu to do the right thing?

 

 

 

 

 

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