PM Netanyahu
Photo: Orel Cohen/Calcalist
Calcalist founder and publisher Yoel Esteron
Photo: Orel Cohen/Calcalist
Israel must extricate itself from its 'Bibi-psychosis'
Op-ed: Everything centers on Benjamin Netanyahu, and all national questions are repressed and reduced to infantile arguments about who is for and who is against the Israeli prime minister. Israelis need to free themselves from their Bibi addiction.

He is the center of our universe, the sun, the moon, and stars combined, without comparison. The state of Israel is dangerously addicted to Bibi. From morning to night Benjamin Netanyahu is the star of every media outlet, trolling social networks and sending crowds into a frenzy.



His admirers and critics alike endlessly discuss his antics, making everything about Bibi, reducing the public discussion to infantilized pros and cons; dividing us into those who believe Bibi is king of Israel from here to eternity, and “leftist-bastards,” like vocal Bibi critic Raviv Drucker, a prominent Israeli journalist.


Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking with the press (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking with the press (Photo: Reuters)


For now, or at least until the messiah arrives, an entire nation stubbornly and steadfastly represses the questions most pivotal for its future.


Where do Israel’s borders lie, still unfixed 69 years after the country was established? What are the governing principles of Israel’s democracy, on which secular and observant people from both sides of the political map can come together and agree upon? What is the correct economic infrastructure for Israel, and which social justice values can be set in its rulebook? What would be the bedrock of our schools and universities, so crucial for our future?


These are not hypothetical questions posed as part of an academic discussion. Each of these questions must find a practical expression in our legislation, in our regulation. These questions must also be represented in our everyday lives, in our technology, in our schools, and in our cultural institutes, in Israel’s center and its periphery. Who now considers these questions? Who is planning Israel’s next decade? Who can even contemplate these issues in the constant Bibi-cacophony?


“Bibi-Live” is the strongest drug flowing through this nation’s veins. When Israel’s prime minister goes live on television, agitated and perspiring, to attack his former official residence manager


Meni Naftali, how can you refrain from clinging to the screen? His admirers clap their hands; his critics cannot avert their eyes as if watching a natural disaster as it unfolds.


The lust for more and more Bibi is pervasive. Give us another crass and blaring argument over breakfast television, give us more profanity online, give us more megaphones in Petah Tikva where protesters are gathering to demonstrate in front of Israel’s state attorney’s house. Give us more and more hours of empty television carbs, dedicated to whatever crucial question Bibi is being interviewed about yet again by some lackey on the fringes of the Israeli televised universe.


Israel’s politics are now afflicted with psychosis. Every wheeler-dealer and every bothersome lobbyist want to be like King Bibi. What are the premature tweets of Israel’s minister of public security if not a secret wish to be more Bibi-like? Reckless lash-outs by Israel’s minister of culture and sports are nothing but an irrepressible urge to please Bibi, to win his favor and feed off his table.


What are the shrieking squeals of Israeli MKs Ahmad Tibi and Haneen Zoabi against Bibi if not a pathetic fantasy in which a Palestinian state would be established as soon as the Israeli prime minister is replaced, bringing prosperity to a Middle-East now turned a desert oasis?


On this eve of the Jewish New Year, I would like to propose we come to accept the idea that in this forthcoming year Benjamin Netanyahu will remain at Israel’s helm. Judging by the turtle-like pace of the state attorney’s handling of the allegations brought against Mr. Netanyahu, no indictment can be expected soon. Mr. Netanyahu’s current partners will not hasten to disassemble the political coalition.


I suggest that freeing ourselves of the national psychosis, this evil spirit that has taken hold of us, starting instead to do more beneficial things, is the least we can do.


My humble wishes for this new year are that each of us will cultivate his or her garden as best as we can, regardless of the feeling that nothing can be done because Bibi is still King. Ministers should try and promote their respective jurisdictions. Public servants should serve the public, each cultivating their gardens, with watch dogs set as supervisors. Company managers and entrepreneurs, educators and workers, farmers and artists - we should all put aside the question of who is the prime minister and do our best. Maybe then the Israeli miracle can survive the national psychosis and take root again.


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