In about three weeks, François Hollande will honor the State of Israel with a first festive visit as the president of France. It's true that we Israelis tend not to be too fond of that snobbish nation which enjoys dining on frog legs, but it seems Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein actually prefers to remember the Dreyfus affair.
Let's start from the end: On Tuesday, Edelstein ordered the cancelation of Hollande's visit to the Knesset, because the guest would rather deliver a speech at one of the State of Israel's academic institutions. Hollande, by the way, planned to visit the parliament building and meet with the Knesset speaker, and was also slated to address Knesset members at the plenum, although such a speech is not part of the binding protocol and usually takes place "at the invitation of the Knesset or at the guest's request."
In any event, when Edelstein heard about the French president's insolent decision, he did what a strong Jew with political status and governmental responsibility can do: He ordered the complete cancellation of the No. 1 French citizen's visit to the Knesset, as well as the meeting between them, and even declared that until further notice the French ambassador and other French officials arriving in Israel would no longer be invited to events and official meetings at the Knesset, "due to the offense to the Israeli parliament."
"Long live the president of the State of Israel. long live the foreign minister of Israel. long live the king of Israel" – these were likely the words echoing in Edelstein's head when he decided to destroy our relations with yet another European power. There is no other explanation for the way the Knesset speaker took the liberty to decide that we can do without these naggers who managed to help us a bit behind the scenes with Gilad Shalit's release, for example.
Avenging Knesset's honorEdelstein, a sympathetic and experienced man, decided to do as Danny Ayalon did and imagine that he is an unaware bull in a china shop. He failed to notice that under Obama's rule, the leaders of the free world act as if they're walking on eggshells: Since war has gone out of fashion, heads of states are trying to navigate reality in a way which will not require the use of weapons, and so diplomacy has become their most common language.
Edelstein has yet to learn that language, nor its ramifications. It's hard to complain about him when the head of his party – our prime minister – winks and releases terrorists with one hand, while approving further construction in the settlements with his other hand. It's even harder to complain about Hollande, who is interested in talking directly to the Israelis, knowing that they are much braver than their leaders.
Hollande understood what Obama already knew at the time: The curbing from the Right, with the Bennetts and Liebermans, will only get in the way of a real conversation with the nation in Zion. The French president chose to direct his words at attentive ears. Can he be blamed for the fact that those ears cannot be found within the Knesset building but actually on the outside?
Edelstein believes that he can, big time. He is avenging the Israeli Knesset's honor, launching a Star of David expedition in the name of the nation, and is even deciding the fate of non-Israeli citizens arriving for a courtesy visit.
I wonder what Reuven Rivlin, the person who served as Knesset speaker for two terms and was wise enough to remember that he holds an official position requiring a touch of modesty, would say about this. It will be as interesting to see how this arrogant tangle weaved by Edelstein will unravel.