Op-Ed

A master class in Israeli politics

STILL ON TOP: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to cobble together a governing coalition.
STILL ON TOP: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to cobble together a governing coalition. AP

During the last elections in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, was active in his father’s campaign. It is not unthinkable, then, that Bibi, as the father is known, invited Yair into his office prior to the first government meeting. It might have sounded like this:

Yair: Congratulation, dad, you did it.

Bibi: Yes. Four more years, and I’ll be serving as prime minister longer than David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the state.

Yair: And to think that all the pundits predicted your fall.

Bibi: What do they know? They just couldn’t imagine I’d pull the doomsday weapon.

Yair: Which is?

Bibi: Scaring the public, telling them that the Israeli Arabs were flocking to the ballots.

Yair: That was cool, dad, although critics said you had delegitimized one-fifth of Israeli citizens.

Bibi: Yes, but that was for a good cause.

Yair: Which is?

Bibi: Winning the elections. But that’s behind us, son. Now come to the window, see my ministers arriving to the first meeting.

Yair: Hey, they are all smiling at you, and waving!

Bibi: Yes, but from here you can’t hear what they are actually saying about me.

Yair: You mean to say that they are not loyal to you? That they will scheme against you? But why? They should be grateful to you for giving them such jobs.

Bibi: On the contrary, they hate me precisely because of the jobs I gave them. Here, son, let me teach you how it works. You ask yourself what is the job most suitable for a certain man. You invite him to your office and ask him if he wants that job. Then you give him another job, entirely not fitting his skills and qualities.

Yair: But that’s crazy! You are only guaranteeing their failure!

Bibi: Exactly, son, you’re learning fast. You see, it’s simple. In no time, all these pompous megalomaniacs will be declared failures by the media, and I, without lifting a finger, will stand above them, imposing!

Yair: But how can you lead such a bunch of jackals and hyenas?

Bibi: Here is another lesson, son. You don’t lead them, you always follow them. Because once they have your back in front of them, you’re finished.

Yair: By the way, this guy over there, didn’t he serve time in prison for corruption and bribery? How can he possibly be a minister?

Bibi: Transparency, son, transparency. In other countries, people suspect that their ministers are crooks. Here they know.

Yair: But how can you accomplish anything this way? And anyway, you only have a coalition of 61 out of 120 Knesset members.

Bibi: That’s a real problem, indeed.

Yair: Why, because you can’t make any peace initiative?

Bibi: No, I’m talking about serious matters. You know, your mom and I like to travel, and we can’t do it now, because if I go abroad, in my absence it takes only one traitor to allow the opposition to topple me at any voting ambush.

Yair: So what are you going to do about it?

Bibi: I’ll invite “Bougie” [Yitzhak Herzog, leader of the Labor opposition] to join the government.

Yair: No way! He just gave the most damning speech in the Knesset, vowing never to join your government.

Bibi: Which is precisely why he will. By the way, I’ll offer him the Foreign Ministry. He will go to Europe and tell France and Scandinavia and the pope and the rest of them to stop supporting a Palestinian state.

Yair: Let me see if I get this right, dad. He will fail miserably, and you, without lifting a finger …

Bibi: Son, I’m proud of you. Come here, give us a hug. And look at this long mahogany table; touch these leather armchairs. One day, all this will be yours.

Yair: What? Are we starting a dynasty?

Bibi: Why not? After all, we are in the Middle East.

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