Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
We, the Israeli Police, supervised by the Ministry of Public Security – and ultimately by you, despite your constant bashing of us and pretending you haven’t been in charge since 2009 – understand that you’ve been robbed of your reputation. Feel free to file a criminal complaint.
You blame “the Leftists,” “the Arabs,” and, bizarrely, now, “the Aliens!” You target reporters, academics, judges, and now, surprisingly, despite our demographic makeup as instinctive Bibi-lovers, we, the police too. You’d love to blame your coalition partner Blue-and-White, but you so cleverly helped that party fragment they don’t seem effective enough to shoulder such blame – (if, however, they handcuff you by threatening to outlaw criminal defendants from running for office, their status will soar!)
After eliminating other suspects, we can identify the person most responsible for destroying your reputation, your historical legacy, eclipsing many of your achievements.
Some of your supporters blame Yair Netanyahu. True, using your son as your informal Minister of Communications is backfiring – but the problem runs deeper than juvenile tweets.
Others blame Donald Trump. True, hitching your star to his wagon isn’t helping as his wagon gets stuck in mud. And mimicking Trump’s divide-and-conquer, demonize-rivals, bullying approach to democratic leadership makes you look petty and narcissistic like him.
But you didn’t need Trump’s coaching in those dark arts. You did it all by yourself in 2015 against the Arabs “voting in droves” – what some of us proudly call Israeli democracy in action! Yet back then, you had this magical resilience, bouncing back by paying off Israeli Arabs with the kinds of subsidies and educational opportunities that have so many of them serving as pharmacists, nurses, doctors – meaning front line workers battling Corona. You also covered your demagoguery with soaring oratory, and by keeping Israel thriving economically, geopolitically, socially.
Whoever advised you not to seek a presidential pardon, retire gracefully and spare us these agonizing death throes, shares some guilt.
Ultimately, however, it’s on you – you couldn’t let go.
By so overstaying your welcome, you’ve trashed your historical reputation. Recently, flailing about, you’ve given your enemies much ammunition, while fastening failures to your legacy historians won’t be able to ignore. Who will now be able to write up your tenure:
without the phrase “prime minister = crime minister”?
without the image of the one-time defense minister/prime minister turned prime defendant?
without stories of the protests, now in their seventh week, that are models of constructive democratic expression, with protesters picking up garbage not picking through looted stores– showing that America’s media lies when calling riots “largely peaceful demonstrations” – demonstrations are peaceful or not.
without searing narratives of pain, of shopkeepers, Corona-victims, restauranteurs and police officers, who worshiped “Bibi, King of Israel” but now feel betrayed by you in their days of need.
You’ve frittered away the good will you built up. Many critics once acknowledged “at least he wakes up every day asking himself ‘What must I do to protect Israel?’” Now, you wake up every day asking yourself ‘What must I do to protect myself — from the courts, the protesters, the Left, the Right, from your own centrist coalition partners? Just weeks ago, many said, “I voted against Bibi, but look at the great job he’s doing fighting Corona.” Now, more Likudniks are saying, “I voted Bibi, but look at the terrible job he’s doing fighting Corona.”
We thank you for protecting us against Iran and Syria, outmaneuvering the PA and Hamas, keeping level-headed during armed conflict, privatizing the economy, and breaking Israel’s diplomatic isolation with creative outreach – even to the Arab world. But your mounting failures and assaults on democracy keep diluting those achievements. It just gets worse as you keep trying to rip Israel’s social fabric apart, as you pour your salty language onto every ethnic wound, as you keep hoping to dodge prosecution by fomenting civil war.
Fortunately, while making yourself look smaller in our eyes – you haven’t diminished us. We’re still the State of Israel that generously displays the Lebanese flag in solidarity after the Beirut disaster, while offering medical and operational help, despite years of hostility from Lebanon. We’re still the citizens of Israel who look out for one another, getting hit up regularly, spontaneously – as I was hit up by a 20-year-old soldier-neighbor this morning – to help needy neighbors “whether they are ultra-orthodox, religious, secular, or elderly.” And we’re still the people of Israel, who united in mourning the passing of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, whose secular upbringing shaped his life-long mission to reconnect the Jewish people with their spiritual and literary tour de force, the Talmud.
In 2013, Steinsaltz said Jews deserve a leader “who can feel the pains of the public as well as of the individual and uplift them, one who can cry over the sorrows and tribulations of the Jews… and occasionally also participate in the[ir] joys.”
Such leadership is impossible when you’re that self-involved, hunting for scapegoats – and fighting 24/7 to stay out of jail. When indicted, it’s natural to devote all your energies to proclaiming your innocence. That democratic right to fight the state, is why indicted politicians shouldn’t try running the state at the same time.
The results – and the damage to your historical reputation – speak for themselves. That’s why our investigation’s conclusion is: look in the mirror and yell ‘j’accuse !” No one has vandalized your personal reputation and historical legacy more than you, yourself, Benjamin Netanyahu.