The Price of Netanyahu’s Ambition

Long piece from the New Yorker

Benzion Netanyahu, the family patriarch and a historian of the Spanish Inquisition, was a secular man. For deliverance, he looked not to faith but to the renunciation of naïveté and the strength of arms

That son, Benjamin Netanyahu, is now in his sixth term as Prime Minister. Not even the state’s founder, David Ben-Gurion, held power longer. But Netanyahu’s standing in the polls is dismal. Now seventy-four, he always campaigned on security, presenting himself as the one statesman and patriot who saw through the malign intentions of Israel’s enemies. Yet with the Hamas massacre of some twelve hundred people in southern Israel, on October 7th, he had presided over an unprecedented collapse of state security.

Background- From the father to the son

Benzion was an acolyte of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader of the branch of right-wing Zionism known as Revisionism (what was being revised was a Zionist agenda deemed insufficiently militant)

Any departure from territorial maximalism was anathema to Benzion. His three sons—Yonatan, Bibi, and Iddo—could have been left in no doubt about where he stood. Ben-Gurion’s acceptance of the U.N. partition plan, in 1947, dividing the land between the Jews and the Arabs, was intolerable. Benzion condemned his fellow-Revisionist Menachem Begin when, at Camp David, in 1978, Begin negotiated the return of the Sinai to Egypt, in what became an enduring peace agreement. The Oslo Accords, signed in the nineties by Yitzhak Rabin, were also an act of pathetic credulity. It was easy to imagine Benzion’s response to Ehud Barak’s negotiations with Palestinians over sovereignty, in 2000; Ariel Sharon’s disengagement from Gaza, in 2005; and Ehud Olmert’s proposal, in 2008, to create a demilitarized Palestinian state. Apparently, Benzion was even critical of his son’s decision to share sovereignty with the Palestinians over the West Bank city of Hebron. No one was vigilant enough to escape his contempt. Benzion once remarked that his son might make a fine foreign minister. Netanyahu was the country’s Prime Minister at the time.

Although Biden initially embraced Netanyahu after October 7th—and displayed so much empathy for Israelis that many people here were heard to say they wished he were their Prime Minister—Netanyahu has since shown cavalier disdain for American efforts to minimize the horrific bloodshed and destruction throughout Gaza, prevent a second front in the north, and convey support for the prospect of two states.

What is not especially visible on Israeli television is the unrelenting horror of Palestinian suffering in Gaza, where more than twenty-three thousand people have been killed in three months, and an estimated 1.9 million have been displaced. Only rarely do Israelis see what the rest of the world sees: the corpses of Palestinian children wrapped in sheets by a mass grave; widespread hunger and disease; schools and houses, apartment blocks and mosques, reduced to rubble; people fleeing from one place to the next, on foot, on donkey carts, three to a bicycle, all the time knowing that there is no real refuge from mortal danger. Gaza is a presence on Israeli television mainly through the dispatches of reporters embedded with the I.D.F. And they tend to emphasize the experience of Israeli soldiers—their missions, their clashes with Hamas fighters, the search for hostages, the crisp pronouncements of generals and officials helicoptering in from Jerusalem.

You do see Gaza on TV, but not enough,” Ilana Dayan, the longtime host of “Uvda” (“Fact”), a kind of Israeli “60 Minutes,” told me one evening over coffee in Tel Aviv.

When Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up twenty per cent of the population, voice their political sentiments on social media, the result can be harassment, doxing, or even a visit from the authorities. Many are repulsed by what they are seeing on Israeli television, in the light of what has appeared on media outlets based in the Arab world. “I can’t stomach it,” Diana Buttu, a human-rights lawyer who was once a negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, told me. She lives in Haifa, a mixed city on the northern coast. “Palestinians are so dehumanized. They are not people. There is no sense of what it means that twenty thousand are dead, half of them kids. It’s only ‘We have to get Hamas.’ My neighbors in Haifa don’t see or comprehend what is being done in their name.”

A final excerpt- do read the entire piece at the link provided and share some thoughts if you like!

What appalls him now is a lack of accountability in Netanyahu’s government. “No one is taking blame for this,” he said. “Someone had to come from the government and say, ‘This was our fault.’ Especially about the hostages. ‘This is our fault, and we are going to do everything we can to bring them home.’ But they are not saying that. If these hostages are killed, this country has no right to keep on going. Israel was established after the Holocaust, and it had one mission: never again. This happened on Israeli soil—and not just to Jews but to Muslims, Arabs, and Thais. If a ceasefire is necessary to bring them home, then yes. Israel should be thinking about one thing only: bring back the hostages.”

No doubt Netanyahu is exploiting the divide in Israel. This is what all leaders do.

What is never presented in main stream western media is this divide. Is the fact their are people protesting, Jewish people, protesting against this war. And protesting against their leadership.

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