Photo: EPA
Netanyahu in Paris. 'Marketing himself at all costs'
Photo: EPA
Shimon Shiffer

Netanyahu's shameful behavior in Paris

Op-ed: It was the Israeli prime minister's duty to march for freedom and equality alongside world leaders; but instead of representing us in a dignified manner, he disgraced us.

Let's agree that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to take part in the march of the millions in memory of the victims in the Paris terror attacks.



Israel is a rightful member of the club of countries which have adopted the principles of freedom, equality and harmony.


In addition, Israel has assumed a moral commitment to the fate of Jews around the world, just like the Jews of the Diaspora are likely concerned about what is happening here and will rush to help us in times of need. This connection is unshakable.


So when four of the victims were slain by a villain simply because they were Jewish, it is the prime minister's duty to march alongside world leaders, pointing to Israel's shared fate with France.


So far we all agree.


From this point, we would have expected the prime minister to represent us in a dignified manner, not to shame us. There is no other word to describe it.


Marching with world leaders. 'The more Netanyahu pressured the French government, the more he increased their desire to get back at him' (Photo: Haim Zach, GPO)
Marching with world leaders. 'The more Netanyahu pressured the French government, the more he increased their desire to get back at him' (Photo: Haim Zach, GPO)


I was ashamed seeing the Israeli leader push his way through to the leaders' first bus, and then elbow his way to the front row of heads of states, who marched silently while he waved at residents standing on balconies along the boulevard.


What would have happened if he had decided to march in the second or third row? How about some modesty, some acknowledgement of the sensitivities of the hosting country? Why Netanyahu knew that the Élysée Palace had not wanted him to come due to concerns, which proved to be justified, that he would take advantage of France's national mourning in order to boost his chances of remaining prime minister in Israel.


Ironically, the more Netanyahu pressured the French government, the more he increased their desire to get back at him. The French rushed to invite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who got the exact same reception as Netanyahu. And so, the Palestinian leader, who heads a joint leadership with Hamas, marched arm-in-arm with heads of important states in the first row, alongside the Israeli prime minister.


But Netanyahu did not settle for a cynical exploitation of the disaster for his personal needs. He also used it to teach the Europeans in general, and the French in particular, a lesson in what they are required to do now – fight radical Islam. It's a shame that his report card in these issues has a D average.


It's enough to mention that he was the one who freed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, released more than 1,000 terrorists in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and in the past summer he was in charge of an entire country whose kindergarten children learned how to bend down in hiding places while the adults lay on the side of the road as rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza exploded over their heads. It was on his watch that three teenagers were kidnapped from an educational institution in Gush Etzion and murdered, and our "Mr. Security" failed to prevent the horror.


Netanyahu's vulgar behavior at the Paris march reflects two things about him. The first is that our prime minister has become a loathsome personality among Europe's leaders, and it for this reason that the French did not want him at the event. The second is that his conduct was not aimed at reinforcing the Israeli dignity, but at marketing himself at all costs. Even at our expense.


You may ask: What do you have against Bibi? When will you find some room to praise and glorify him?


Here's my response: Netanyahu is facing the voter's test now, and it is our right to point to the sources of his decisions. It is the media's duty to hold a mirror up to the reader in a country which wants to remain a member of the club of states enjoying freedom, harmony and equality.


פרסום ראשון: 01.13.15, 13:35
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