If any Israeli Prime Minister was “Mr. Security,” it was Menachem Begin, not Benjamin Netanyahu. Begin went against popular international opinion by destroying the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981’s Operation Opera, followed by engaging the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and affiliated terrorist groups in the First Lebanon War. He did what was needed to lead his nation, even if, in the case of Lebanon, it was poorly executed. Begin wasn’t just an aggressive leader, however, as he waged peace with Egypt. Despite the lack of trust between Israel and Arabs, he took a big risk in handing back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and evacuating Jewish settlements in the territory. The risk paid off, with Egypt establishing ties with Israel and creating a cold (albeit warming) peace that remains today. Begin also began the process of bringing Ethiopian Jewry into Israel, despite all of its difficulties.
Bibi, however, has failed at taking risks that are moral yet necessary, trading them for cheap political ploys that allow him to remain in power. His recent nation-state bill was little more than bait for the opposition, allowing him to portray themselves as non-Zionist extremists in the upcoming election. Predictably, Israel’s leftists—stuck in the 1990s Oslo era—fell for the trap. Bibi will have the support of the center and the Political Right in defending the nation-state bill, which most Israeli Jews agree with. But at what cost? He has needlessly alienated the LGBT community with his recent U-turn on surrogacy, and the Druze, the “blood brothers” of Jewish Israelis, and further divided the Jewish Diaspora from Israel. Bibi also has flip-flopped on a migrant deportation deal reached with the United Nations that could have allowed for a humane solution to the refugee issue in Israel. He took an immoral and hypocritical stance towards recognizing the Armenian Genocide, allowing the country to be “bullied” by Turkey yet refusing to stand in solidarity with the families of 1915 victims. Bibi has also chastised and yelled at families of fallen heroes who criticize his weak response to the recent Gaza riots and fire kites. He continues to pal around with authoritarian-leaning European leaders, many of whom have ties to anti-Semites. Is this the best Jerusalem has to offer? Is this really the best hope Israel has for securing itself against European hypocrites, neo-Nazis, and Arab supremacists?
Currently there is news of Netanyahu agreeing to a ceasefire that enables Hamas to stay in power and develop Gaza. However, at the same time as these developments are being discussed by the prime ministers and his security cabinet, rockets are injuring civilians in the south and fire kites continue to set kibbutzim ablaze. The excuse given is that Netanyahu prefers to focus on the front in the north. However, the IDF Chief of Staff has recently stated that the IDF is better prepared for war than at anytime in the past 2 decades. Bibi’s “rehabilitation ceasefire,” in other words, is little more than capitulation. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman once took a position that is popular with most Israelis: the next Hamas war will be the last. Instead, the prime minster seems perfectly fine with allowing them to remain in power—although feeble and impoverished. Rather than humiliating Iran by eradicating one of its proxies, he would allow Hamas to remain a threat so as to project an image of being the country’s hawkish protector. If the Hamas boogeyman were gone, there would be fewer enemies Israel would have to deal with, and perhaps another party and prime minister would be elected.
As usual, Israel’s Prime Minister is not leading, but rather is looking for short-term benefits that will enable him to stay in power for a little bit longer. What Jews and Israelis want and need is for a real leader—one who will fight for us against all extremists, rather than pander to immoral religious and political figures for temporary gains. Netanyahu is needlessly risking Israel’s growing diplomatic prowess by aligning himself with some of the world’s most disgusting leaders and selling out the values of the Jewish people and Israel. The real Mr. Security is surely rolling in his grave.