Who could forget: July 4th, 1976 was one of Israel's finest hours. On the night before the dawn of that new day, the IDF released the hostages in Entebbe, 4,000 kilometers (roughly 2,600 miles) away from home. Israel rose to a morning of Gullivers. Every citizen became inches taller.
Thousands congregated at the Ben Gurion airport to welcome the released hostages. Joy swept through the entire country. Who could possibly forget? Then, all of a sudden, from among the thousands who screamed for joy, opposition leader Menachem Begin appeared. B-E-G-I-N, B-E-G-I-N, roared the crowd, carrying him on their shoulders and breaking out in dance.
Begin, of course, only wanted to join in the celebration of the masses when he suddenly found himself at the center of the reveling crowd. Those who asked, "What is he doing here?" and "what does he have to do with the successful operation?" almost risked their lives. Begin, Begin, roared the impassioned crowds – and the media aired the images live to the entire world. Yitzhak Rabin, the man who made the decision only arrived later on, but it was too late. Begin, the man who had nothing to do with the Entebbe operation, had already taken the entire kitty.
Benjamin Netanyahu, in his appearance on Channel 1 News Wednesday, unwittingly repeated Begin's "ploy." His response was honest and accurate: "I was a partner to this matter from the beginning and I gave it my support."
However, the atmosphere produced by the response created the impression Netanyahu wanted to create: That he was a partner, and as our wise men say, everyone wants to take credit for a successful mission. According to Netanyahu, this was a successful operation
And so, Thursday morning the masses woke to the knowledge that it wasn't only Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak who were responsible for the success of "that matter" (What? Who? Will someone tell us already?), it was Bibi too.
Truth is, Netanyahu's sin is not terrible and many politicians may have, perhaps, acted in the same manner. However, his supporters, particularly his aides, should tell him that this is an exact copy of the "old Bibi," an image he wanted to get rid of so badly – that is, jumpy and taking credit for others' achievements.
On another radio broadcast Saturday, Netanyahu talked about the Likud party that supported the peace process with Egypt, and forgot to say that the agreement was only passed in the Knesset because of the support of the Labor party, and if this hadn't been the case the Likud would have been in dire straits.
But this is exactly the old Bibi - and we believed or wanted to believe that he was reborn.