by Moshe Feiglin
“Nobody will run Zionism’s rear-guard war better than you,” I once said to Netanyahu. Today I understand that it is not just Netanyahu – it is almost all the Right’s intelligentsia.
Netanyahu is not the problem. He is just its face. He is the face of the unrelenting rear-guard war of the Right. Actually, he is the face of the rear-guard war of Zionism, in its entirety.
As if someone had given an order, a flurry of pro-Netanyahu articles written by rightists is now falling upon us. For example:
“When will you understand that Netanyahu is playing chess?” explains Tal Gilad. “He thinks ten moves ahead”. Every so often, he sacrifices a pawn, all the chess-masters do so…when the moment comes, Israel will achieve rapid and absolute deterrence.”
“Netanyahu is not considered a leader of the stature of Ben Gurion,” Caroline Glick laments. “Netanyahu is signed on the reforms that brought about the revision of Israel’s economy from sputtering socialism to a free and flourishing market…He is the most important and successful prime minister we have had beside Ben Gurion.”
I will not debate too much with the facts. I am willing to assume that the Prime Minister is a strategic genius on a scale that we simply cannot understand. I am willing to ignore the fact that the ‘moment’ Tal Gilad wrote about has already come and gone a number of times – and in all those instances, we did not see “rapid and absolute deterrence” (to put it mildly).
Netanyahu’s speech-making-strategy in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat; his depositing of the management of the Iranian existential threat to Israel in the hands of Obama and his sanctions; the Czechoslovakian re-run into which Netanyahu has maneuvered Israel, which remained outside the room in which they were conferring on its future in the modern-day Munich Accords signed by Obama and the Ayatollahs – all this was nothing more than ‘sacrificing a pawn’. We simply cannot see ten steps ahead. Now Netanyahu is pressuring Trump to try and revise the Accords – like a Scholar’s Mate in twenty moves…
The tie that we achieved against the Hamas and its “divisions” in Operation Protective Edge after it incessantly bombarded Tel Aviv was apparently “rapid and absolute deterrence”. The Marmara, the metal-detectors on the Temple Mount, Elor Azariah, the slap in the face to IDF officers and much more… all those are just ‘sacrificing a pawn’ on the road to some sublime strategy at the end of which is a sophisticated goal that we, the peons, simply cannot understand. It is revealed only to those who are privy to Concealed Wisdom, like Netanyahu and Tal Gilad.
I do not want to debate too much with Caroline Glick, either. First, because in the economic field, Netanyahu did indeed perform a number of important moves when he was Finance Minister. Most of those improvements dissipated during the rest of his term. Israel is flourishing today not because of Netanyahu, but despite him.
I will ask the simple question, ‘If we are so successful, why do waves of Aliyah to Israel come only from failing countries? Why don’t multitudes of Jews from the West come here to make money? Why can’t a Jewish doctor who left France find work here? Why does he ultimately immigrate to Canada? Why does a young couple in Israel (which truly is wealthy) work the longest hours in the West, earn the least – and pay the most? And why don’t they have any hope to buy an apartment without help?
I am willing for the sake of discussion to assume that Netanyahu is indeed a strategic and financial wizard, and that material situation has never been better.
Leadership, however, is not measured by the question, “How much”?
Managers are measured by “How much?”
Leadership is measured by the question “to where?”
It could be that Netanyahu is a good manager. But he is a very bad leader. Simply because he is not leading us anywhere. He is not leading at all.
A good manager installs an Iron Dome defense system.
A good leader brings about a new reality in which there is no need for it.
Moreover – a good leader understands that the Iron Dome is a good managerial solution, but a strategic catastrophe because it changes the equation and makes Israeli civilians on the home front a legitimate target.
And that is what has happened, thanks to Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has led us to place in which it is not legitimate to attack Iran, but it is legitimate to threaten Israel with nuclear weapons. For, after all, we have invested in technology against nuclear weapons instead of eliminating the threat.
A good manager bombs the tunnel and apologizes for killing the enemy inside it.
A good leader kills the enemy and thus prevents the tunnels from ever being built.
A good manager solves the crisis with the Marmarah and gains a few more months of quiet with Turkey.
A good leader understands that it is fine to forgo personal honor, but when you forgo the honor of your soldiers, Israel loses its deterrence.
Netanyahu likes to see himself as the Israeli Churchill. But after the Munich Accords Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war."
Netanyahu the Manager brings dishonor upon us repeatedly in exchange for hypothetical quiet. Our children and the generations to come will pay the price of constant war and life in the shadow of a nuclear Middle East. We can only pray that Israel will have a leader – and not a manager – to deal with the reality that the disgraces of Netanyahu have brought upon us.
Churchill, by the way, chain-smoked cigars and took bubble baths in the middle of the day while London was being bombed and food was being rationed – and it didn’t bother anyone. Because the commodities that a leader is supposed to supply to his nation – vision and leadership - Churchill had in abundance. He was not playing chess. He was leading.
The public is not fed up with Netanyahu because of its material situation. Not because of his wife and not because of his cigars. All of those are ridiculous. The ludicrous accusations of corruption are the last things that bother the hypocritical protests of the Left in Tel Aviv.
The Netanyahu family’s conduct is indeed scandalous – but it is not corrupt. By comparison to most of the leaders that the Left has produced – from Eshkol, to Dayan and Weitzman and on to Rabin, Peres and Barak – Netanyahu looks like a Buddhist monk.
The public is fed up with Netanyahu because he is not capable of mounting any goal beyond simple existence. Netanyahu is stuck in existence in an era in which the Nation of Israel is desperately seeking purpose and destiny. Netanyahu is the prime minister of a Nation that flees its own message, despises itself for that and is angry at him for not supplying it.
Netanyahu is a tragedy. For himself and for us all.
The credit that we have received from the Holocaust to justify our political existence has been terminated. Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem just doesn’t work anymore.
No F-35 pilot or submarine commander who has lost his identity – no soldier whose sense of justice has been denied, who is trained to think that he is from the UN and that his job is to ‘freeze’ the situation, who is trained to simply preserve existence – will defeat a young girl with a pair of scissors or without them. They will not defeat a young girl who knows who she is, what her goal is and the identity of her enemy.
Within the personal tragedy of Netanyahu, which is the tragedy of Zionism, lies the smaller tragedy of most of Israel’s Right. It always wins the elections, but loses in real life. Its leader has maneuvered it into giving up on its dream. Its Intelligentsia is not capable of saying what it wants (only what it does not want). All that is left for it is its battle against the Left, making small-time deals and waiting for the next expulsion – “because of the Left” of course…
All that is left for it is a rear-guard war.