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17 October 2019

Spare The Nation Humiliation And Pain: An Open Letter To Netanyahu

By: Alon Ben-Meir
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Mr. Netanyahu;

It is time for you to reflect on where you stand and how best to serve the country you care about in a time of much uncertainty and turmoil.

You have served as Prime Minister longer than any of your predecessors, and accomplished much for the state of Israel while ensuring its wellbeing and security. You have helped put the country on the international stage. Under your aegis, Israel became one of the most advanced nations – today the country leads in technology, medicine, agronomy, engineering, and much more. Rightfully, you can claim some credit for Israel’s achievements. But you must also assume responsibility for many of Israel’s failures under your leadership – sadly, failures that will potentially haunt the Israelis for a generation to come. Failures that will taint your legacy. But then, you can still muster the courage if you only will it, and leave the political scene while you still can with some pride.

You have failed wretchedly to deal with the Palestinian conflict; maintained the stigma of occupation; pursued a ruthless policy toward the Palestinians in the West Bank; built new and expanded existing settlements; openly called for the annexation of more Palestinian land; and denied their right to have a state of their own, as if they will just vanish by simply wishing them away. You bolstered their resistance and resiliency. Hamas offers one living example of your failing policy, as neither the blockade, nor punishment, nor isolation have muffled their defiance.

Have you ever asked yourself where Israel will be in a score? What will be the Palestinians’ fate, and will Israel live in peace? By branding the Palestinians as the perpetual enemy of the state, you have doomed the nation to unrelenting violent conflicts and wars, spilling the blood of precious young men and women on both sides with little or no prospect of peace in sight.

You led the Israelis to believe that Trump is Israel’s savior. How wrong! Trump has severely compromised Israel’s national security. By simply enabling you to run wild and subject the Palestinians to your whims, Trump inflicted a mortal blow to the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

You cheered when Trump relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; you hailed Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and applauded his endorsing the annexation of the Golan Heights. Yes, for you this was the realization of a life-long dream. But then, however historically significant Trump’s moves may appear, you seem to conveniently forget that Trump’s backing of Israel rests solely on his need for the evangelicals’ political support, for whom Israel is the conduit for the return of the Messiah.

You have been fooled by Trump’s presumed commitment to Israel’s safety. He will turn on a dime and desert Israel just as he abandoned a trusted ally—the Syrian Kurds. He has already flouted Israel’s national security as he has thrown the Middle East in turmoil, subjecting Israel to new deadly challenges and ominous threats. Don’t count on the “deal of the century”, which you have concocted with his ignorant advisors. It died before it was born, for it was conceived with malice and there is little in it for the Palestinians to count on.

You waged a relentless campaign to cancel the Iran Deal. What have you achieved since Trump followed your misguided advice? If you haven’t realized by now that you have made a dreadful mistake, just watch what Trump has done since he withdrew from the deal. Yes, he imposed more sanctions, but never contemplated the use of force. Following Tehran’s strike on a major Saudi oil refinery, he never seriously considered a military strike to punish Tehran, leaving the Saudis bewildered, scrambling for a solution. Rapprochement with Iran, they decided is the way to go.

By what measure then is Israel better off today without the Iran deal? Now that the clergy has resumed its nuclear program activities, all that Trump wants now is to open a dialogue with Tehran. Emboldened by his betrayal of allies and ineptitude, Israel is facing greater danger from Iran than ever before.

You have been dismantling Israel’s democracy brick by brick. You are a divisive force, playing one political party against another—attacking the press and branding it as the enemy of the people; making the high court the target of your criticism and contempt; discriminating against the Israeli Arab citizens, terrified by their growing electoral power; fracturing the vitally important relations between Israel and the American Jewish community; neglecting nearly a million Israelis under the poverty line; making shady deals with newspapers to give you positive coverage; violating the oath of your office by accepting bribes; investing heavily on the settlements to secure the settlers’ political support; all while depriving crumbling cities and towns of money they need for rebuilding.

Indeed, if power corrupts, Mr. Netanyahu, you present a classic case of the corrupting force of power.

You have pushed the country to conduct two elections in less than five months. Twice you were given the mandate to form a coalition government, but failed. Israelis are screaming for change in direction to address the country’s woes, but then even after thirteen years in office as the Prime Minister, still, your voracious thirst for power remained the same. It is probable that as prime minister you could survive the indictments against you. But then, what about the welfare of the country? The country that you profess to love. Israel is threatened, it needs a strong and united government, but without you. If you really cared about the future security of the state, you would turn to Benny Ganz, who is the most qualified to serve Israel best in this hour of need.

You have built a reputation as the champion of Israel’s security, as if without you the country will face a mortal danger that only you can prevent, spreading fear and awe, often creating imaginary threats only to justify your mischievous scheme to stay in power. You seem to forget that with all your political wizardry, you are still a mortal; Israel will survive you for as far as the eye can see. You must realize by now you have gone as far as your destiny could lead you.

It’s time for you to go. There is nothing you can do that others cannot do just as good if not better. Resign your post; turn to the Attorney General to drop the charges against you. The nation will forgive you for your good intentions and some deeds.

It is an auspicious time to reflect on your achievements and shortcomings and the legacy you want to leave behind. A third election in less than a year is not the answer. The result will be much of the same.

Unless you want to end up in jail just like your predecessor, spare the nation the humiliation and pain.

Sincerely yours
Alon Ben-Meir

* Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. - alon@alonben-meir.com

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