Beyond everything else, it was a good laugh. Here he is, the Village Idiot that my countrymen and women back home cannot find a way to get rid of, standing on the United Nations podium with the smug self-importance only a Village Idiot can muster, and drawing a red line on Wile E. Coyote’s cartoon bomb:
On the first, second and third looks, none of us could stop laughing – My wife, me and our 15- and 13-year-old sons. We all understood how ridiculous it was on so many levels. And like us, countless Israelis went online and posted hillarious memes mocking their at-best-barely-tolerated leader.
And we can leave it at that. When it comes to the media, Bibi is an uncurable douchebag, obsessed with media coverage and attention, but never quite getting how ridiculous he comes across. Or not caring much: “as long as they spell my name right.” After all, this is how he launched his bid for the national leadership some 20 years ago:
He went on state TV (then the only channel in Israel), demanding to be placed on stage in prime time because he has an “announcement”, and then telling the country live on prime time that his political opponents within the Likud party have a cassette proving he has been unfaithful to his 3rd wife, and are trying to blackmail him. I kid you not (and I can’t believe I actually found a direct link to this pre-Internet news story!). The cassette never surfaced, and everyone had a good laugh – but Bibi laughed last. His 3rd wife stayed with him despite the affair; did she have a choice now? (btw: She, too, has turned out to be quite a character who likes to torment the Netanyahus’ hired help). Bibi went on to become Likud leader, then prime minister, and every time we thought we got rid of his sorry face – he has found a way to come back, like an untreatable itch.
So yes, His Bibiness’ douchebaggery – as a person in general, and on TV in particular – is a known quantity.
But on another level – the one of power relations and political machinery – yesterday’s speech was infuriating. Bibi of course knows that the drawing is cartoonish; that he is turning into a joke the very same subject he has demanded the world to regard as the gravest danger to its future. But he has already told the United Nations, at the very same event last year, exactly what he thinks about it:
Well, here’s what’s happening now — right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security. You couldn’t make this thing up.
So here in the UN, automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west. I think the first has already been pre-ordained. But they can also decide — they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.
And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me — and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.
So this is what the douchebag was doing yesterday at the UN. He was on a holy mission, lighting a candle. A candle that says,
“I am pissing on all your faces, telling the lot of you that you are useless idiots, and you can do nothing about it. You guys don’t get it, and never will, but it doesn’t matter. My friends are too powerful for all of you together, and we will continue to set your agenda to benefit only our narrow interests. Because we know better than you.
No, because we ARE better than you.”
If this sounds familiar, it is because this is precisely the style of leadership evident from Mitt Romney’s “47%” video, from the rest of the 2012 GOP clownfest, from 8 devastating years of George W. Bush, and from right-wing politicians in general. Self-aggrandizement and self-promotion for its own naked sake, a belief in the ability to reinvent reality through the power of lies told with immense self-conviction – and cartoonish disdain for everyone else but themselves:
Cartoonish disdain for adversaries – or any random group of Humanity they choose to pick on – whom they demonize beyond belief. For a truly cartoonish example, in Israel this year it has become national right-wing sport (with the center towing along) to rabidly incite against refugees fleeing the horrors of South Sudan and Eritrea.
Cartoonish disdain for those who sometimes voice feeble disagreement, but are too chicken to challenge them as they should (for Bibi, a big chunk of his UN audience; for GOP politicians this would be “the Librul Media”). Ironically, this group often deserves the disdain because spinelessness is the worst disease in politics. But what you won’t hear from the right-wing scumbags, is that their own ascendancy is first and foremost the result of this very same spinelessness at the Center.
Cartoonish disdain for their own supporters, whom they take for total chumps. As Romney has discovered since September 17, many of these supporters do not respond kindly when faced with the undeniable truth of this disdain. Meanwhile, Bibi has been playing the Israeli public like a violin with his Iran crap, distracting from his full support for the continued Occupation of Palestine despite its inevitable dead-end fate (that is the biggest ticking bomb for Israel, as everyone really knows). And of course, no mention of the hundreds of Bombs Israel itself holds, most of them apparently stashed right on the outskirts of its own major metropolitan areas. With their existence not acknowledged, and with the decisions about how to store them, and if and when to ever use them, entrusted to people like Bibi with zero oversight. No, it is only the would-be Iranian Bomb that Israelis need to worry about.
The Israeli public, alas alas, seems to have infinite appetite for being lied to and laughed at by its own leaders nowadays.
And finally, disdain for their powerful benefactors too. Bibi had no qualms about jumping head-first into the US Presidential campaign this month, producing blatant, English-language, theatrical made-for-US-campaign-ads, anti-Obama speeches. This, despite Obama giving Israel everything it has asked for in 3.5 years, and more. Perhaps the billionaires throwing money down the GOP campaign drain think that these soulless politicians do respect them. Or perhaps they, too, don’t care.
After all, most GOP-supporting billionaires are probably smart enough to know that 21st-Century right-wing politics is all about selling cartoonish lies to the highest bidder, cashing out like bandits – and then finding someone else to pay for the consequences of basing policy on a tower of lies.