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Photo: Amit Shabi
Prime Minister Netanyahu. Turned into more of a politician and less of a leader
Photo: Amit Shabi
Yoaz Hendel
When Netanyahu takes responsibility
Op-ed: The criticism over the prime minister’s apology for the government’s absence from the Yom Kippur War memorial seems very odd. Even when he does the right thing, even when he goes back to putting the state’s interest first, the ‘Just Not Bibi’ camp is incapable of forgiveness.
Benjamin Netanyahu is a self-fulfilling prophecy. From his very first day as prime minister, he was directly attacked by the media. In those days, opinions among columnists and editors were as diverse as those found in a bridge club in Kfar Shmaryahu. They blamed Netanyahu for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, for the Labor Party’s defeat in the elections, for the shattered dream of Yasser Arafat extending a hand for peace.

 

 

But if we examine Netanyahu’s statements and actions during his first term in office, we’ll find a national leader talking in favor of a free press despite its attacks on him and about honoring the legal system. A right-wing liberal man who was raised in America on the values of the Revisionist Movement.

 

In his current term, Netanyahu is a different person (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
In his current term, Netanyahu is a different person (Photo: AP)

 

Occasionally, he did make some comments that the opposition wasn’t quite as happy to hear, like, “the Left has forgotten the meaning of being Jewish,” but those was exceptions that did not reflect his usual rhetoric.

 

Netanyahu brought the same conduct to the prime minister’s bureau in his second term. He put the state’s interests first, but had ministers and Knesset members who attacked the judiciary and law enforcement while he held on to red lines.

 

He let the young men play before him, and stopped at the right moment with a single sentence about the importance of the law and the court.

 

Netanyahu curbed bills aimed at making headlines, backed the chief of staff and his officers in any given situation and publicly gave his support to investigations conducted by the Shin Bet’s Jewish Division, as well as to Supreme Court justices.

  

In his current term, Netanyahu is a different person. Pressure has taken its toll, and years of criticism and media attacks had to leave their mark on him, although he is a strong person.

 

The amount of time he's been in power, coupled with intermixing personal-family affairs and national affairs, change a person’s character in the best-case scenario, and corrupt him in the worst-case scenario. In Netanyahu’s case, it turned him into more of a politician and less of leader.

 

His national statements, which were a matter of routine only two years ago, have become increasingly rare, as have calls for unity. His reactions to the media, on the other hand, have become similar to reactions he had tried curbing for years.

 

With every aggressive response, regardless of its target, he was less of a statesman and more of a political survivor. And because Netanyahu is the head of state, the stars arrange themselves below him rather than above him. He is the ruler, even if he sometimes believes he is being ruled.

 

In light of this, criticism against his apology for the government’s absence from the Yom Kippur War memorial seems very odd. There is no good excuse for failure to send a single government representative to a state ceremony for the war’s fallen soldiers.

 

I don’t believe there’s a single minister who doesn’t understand that. How did it happen? Mismanagement. An amateurish cabinet secretariat and a ministerial schedule that relies on other people.

 

The Yom Kippur War memorial wasn't attended by a single government representative (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky) (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
The Yom Kippur War memorial wasn't attended by a single government representative (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

 

I have no doubt that most ministers regret the fact they didn’t check the time and date, and that they relied on their assistants, on government workers and secretaries, instead of doing what they had to do. So does Netanyahu. His sensitivity toward bereavement hasn’t changed, despite the changes he has gone through.

 

The best evidence is that Netanyahu apologized. He promised to look into the matter and fix it. These words mean something. A return to putting the state’s interest first, publicly taking responsibility. But even in this case, there is no forgiveness in the “Just Not Bibi” camp. An insistence to reject the prime minister’s apology even when he does do the right thing.

 

Granted, the mistakes were made by Netanyahu and his government. A proper political ideology, in my opinion, can’t accept insensitivity. The people of Israel are more important than enjoying the benefits of being in power and more important than false promises about the Land of Israel.

 

"The movement for a return to statism" was established in Gush Etzion last week, even if we can’t see it on the ground yet. The amateurish ceremony and the debate around it were just the beginning.

 

Mistakes made regarding the Yom Kippur War memorial, on the other hand, required the government’s most serious ministers to deal with words. Not with protocols, but with the essence of putting the state’s interests first.

 

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