Indeed, Jerusalem is also not a kibbutz, a moshav, or highway. We are proud that it’s not even London or Paris or Mexico City. And still, we would expect the prime minister of Israel to come up with loftier words in respect to our eternal capital, the wonder of the world. Amid his desire to act with extreme caution in the middle of a storm, Netanyahu gravely insulted Jerusalem.
The audience at the AIPAC Conference applauded at length, as in geographic and mental terms they are more attached to Washington than to Jerusalem. Yet in Israel, a heavy silence prevailed.
Even Netanyahu fans had trouble being impressed by the speech. Perhaps they noticed that Kadima’s Tzipi Livni would have been able to adopt it too without changing more than one or two sentences. She has no problem with declaring that “Jerusalem is not a settlement” or that “if there is one thing I will never compromise on, it’s Israel’s security.” Is it even thinkable that she would compromise?
Netanyahu also told the AIPAC Conference that he will maintain an Israeli presence on our eastern border, and this may be the last disagreement left between him and Livni. And a temporary disagreement at that.
Why are they silent?
As we mark a year to the Netanyahu government’s swear-in ceremony, we can declare that the 2009 revolution amounted to new government appointments, rather than refreshed principles. Olmert left, thank God, yet his legacy remained: The two-state solution, a settlement freeze, and a gradually adaptation to America’s caprices.
The new Likud government did not contribute even one new neighborhood to Jerusalem. In fact, it is the first government ever in Israel to wholly paralyze construction in Maale Adumim and to close a hesder yeshiva. The government’s handling of the Qassam problem in the south is reminiscent of the Olmert government’s conduct ahead of Operation Cast Lead. The defense minister is the same defense minister.
In light of the above, it’s unclear why the Likudniks are silent. The overwhelming majority of Likud members are quiet, as their leader leads them towards a terminal ideological collapse. From one speech to the next, he eliminates the remains of the ideology left in the party in the wake of the Sharon era, yet only a handful of Knesset members and ministers protest on occasion. The other members make do with clenching their teeth.
In the next elections, the Likud will not be able to draft a platform that would distinguish it from Kadima and from the Labor party. An election campaign is not the AIPAC Conference. You can’t declare that “the Likud isn’t Kadima” and elicit the applause of the voters. Hence, soon there might be a need to make clear that the Likud is not Netanyahu.