As is the custom around here when Benjamin Netanyahu is in office, we see wild media exaggeration when it comes to describing his conduct. Indeed, he handled the budget in an embarrassing manner, changed his mind constantly, and caved in – but he did not deviate from the style adopted by other prime ministers facing similar situations.
Former PM Rabin, for example, issued a sensational tax on the stock market in December of 1994, and canceled it the next day. The newspapers pounded him. They said he was “revealed as someone who time and again adapts his position in line with what the last person who spoke to him says.”
The entire nation was exposed to a deep professional rift between him and then-Finance Minister Shochat. Opposition members were radiant with joy. The illusion of early elections was hovering in the air.
Today’s economic crisis is several notches deeper than that of 1994, and this is not Netanyahu’s fault. It is an imported crisis, and the local tax on it is very high. Even senior economic professors are puzzled and confused. Therefore it is natural for the prime minister to be confused as well.
His pledge to cut taxes was a hasty move, yet when it comes to failing to deliver on promises he is not the first one. Olmert, for example, promised convergence in Judea and Samaria during his campaign. Did he converge?
The more disturbing problem with Netanyahu is his deep energy crisis. Even before the 100 days of grace since his broad government was sworn in have elapsed, we are seeing a blatant shortage of desire to create and change. When examining what he says or does, and mostly what he does not say and does not do, a great mystery emerges: Why was it so important for Netanyahu to win the elections? Where is his agenda hiding?
Where is the revolution?
Lieberman promised during the campaign to lead a reform in Jewish-Arab relations, and he is enthusiastically promoting it at the Foreign Ministry. Shas was eager to boost child allowances, and it already managed to increase them a little. Yet only the prime minister hesitates to make use of his new status. Not even a symbolic change has taken place since he was crowned.
The Qassams keep on dropping in the Sderot area occasionally, the settlements are facing a complete construction freeze, and Histadrut labor union federation head Ofer Eini still controls what goes on in the government compound.
Barack Obama, whom Netanyahu will meet next week, ordered the closure of the Guantanamo camp on the day of his inauguration. By doing so, the new president signaled to his people that things will change. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is making an effort to convey a sense of continuity. He is conducting himself like a lethargic leader at the end of two straight terms in office. Where is the revolution?