In case you misunderstood what happened when Israel Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu united with his opposition, Kadima, America’s Time magazine can help you: it has placed Mr Netanyahu on its May 28, 2012 cover. It calls him, “King BiBi”.
The ink on Bibi’s agreement with Kadima is hardly dry. But the fallout from it has already begun. So far, three story-lines have opened: the international, the national and the Jewish. Time captures it all.
While many who discuss Netanyahu’s new unity government focus on its impact on Israel national politics, some look instead at its impact on Israel’s international status. For some, this alliance spells trouble. The Time story highlights the problem: now that Netanyahu has secured unprecedented power to act without opposition, will he adhere to Israel’s supposed intransigence, or will he write a new narrative for a Middle East peace? The implication is clear: with apparently no opposition to stop him, Mr Netanyahu has no more excuses for delay. Mr Abbas has recognized this, declaring almost immediately, ‘if I were him [Netanyahu], I would do it [sign with the Palestinian Authority] now, now, now.’
His emphasis is telling. The world believes that Mr Netanyahu can now do anything he wants any time he wants. There is no longer any reason for delay. Delay will mean instant and intense condemnation. We have already seen the beginning of this intensity: just days after Mr Netanyahu’s alliance announcement, European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers harshly criticized Israel for behaviour ‘threatening the two-state solution’. That harshness was repeated two days later in remarks by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, that suggested an utter contempt, impatience and disregard for the Jewish State.
The pressure against Israel increases. Mr Netanyahu backs Israel into a corner, and the EU salivates. He can no longer claim the Knesset will not support him; he now controls a majority bloc. He may have actually narrowed his options with this alliance. For a politician who prides himself on his ability to keep options open, this narrowing could be disastrous.
The second story-line opened by the Time coverage concerns national Israel politics. When this alliance was first announced, Israel’s elite media supported it, claiming it would bring ‘stability’ to an otherwise chaotic Israeli political environment. With the Kadima-Likud alliance giving Netanyahu a new 94-seat majority in a Knesset where 61 seats control, they had reason to draw this conclusion. But while they might be right, this supposed ‘stability’ could also tear Likud apart. Likud is, essentially, a Rightist pro-Judea/Samaria Party. Kadima is Leftist and anti-Judea/Samaria. Netanyahu, despite his Likud home, already leans Left. Now he brings Kadima to his side. Why? Rumours circulate that he might imitate his Likud predecessor, Ariel Sharon. Sharon turned hard-Left, abandoned Likud and surrendered Gaza. If Netanyahu makes a similar hard-Left turn—or tries a similar abandonment-- in order to surrender central Israel and part of Jerusalem, this could make Likud the victim of consecutive betrayals by its leaders. Would voters trust another Likud candidate in the next election? In addition to this problem, some in Likud believe that a cadre of members appear to hate Likud’s most powerful pro-Judea/Samaria leader, Moshe Feiglin. If Netanyahu chooses Left over Right, will animus towards Feiglin be the ‘straw’ that breaks Rightist Likud? What will that do to Israeli politics?
The third story-line generated by the Time article is ‘Jewish’. Raising the subject of a ‘King’, Time reminds us that our past and future are tied to Kingship. Read your Tanach. Our past—and our destiny-- is Kingship. Moreover, to call a current leader, ‘king’, prompts some to recall from Tanach that, when Jewish kings in Israel commit to G-d, Israel is strong and honoured. When Jewish leadership rejects G-d, Israel receives contempt, curse and trouble (sound familiar?). This is the formula that rules our Destiny. It is all in our Tanach which, if you have been counting, has a better track-record for accurate predictions than all those Leftists who pressure Israel by promising ‘peace’ if only we surrender G-d’s land. How do we read this reference to kingship in the non-Jewish Time? Is it simply a ‘cute’ essayist flourish; is it coincidence—or is it one of those ‘natural’ occurrences that remind us of our Destiny?
Israel faces its greatest existential threat. With this Likud-Kadima alliance, the nations’ contempt for Israel is energized: they can see their anti-Israel goals now closer than ever to fulfilment; their urgency increases; they become impatient for Israel to surrender for ‘peace’.
What will happen if King Bibi decides to lead the Jewish nation with a commitment to his Jewish G-d? What will happen if he rejects that choice?
Perhaps “Time” means you should read your Tanach; then, you won’t have to wait for the movie to find out what happens.