Israel has had many rightist leaders since Menachem Begin promised “many Elon Morehs,” but there has never been one like Netanyahu, who wants to do it by deceit.
Gideon Levy, 15 July 2010
And Richard Silverstein comments in Bibi the Bamboozler to Settlers: ‘America Won’t Get in Our Way…It’s Easily Moved’
Gideon Levy, 15 July 2010
This video should have been banned for broadcast to minors. This video should have been shown in every home in Israel, then sent to Washington and Ramallah. Banned for viewing by children so as not to corrupt them, and distributed around the country and the world so that everyone will know who leads the government of Israel. Channel 10 presented: The real (and deceitful ) face of Binyamin Netanyahu. Broadcast on Friday night on “This Week with Miki Rosenthal,” it was filmed secretly in 2001, during a visit by Citizen Netanyahu to the home of a bereaved family in the settlement of Ofra, and astoundingly, it has not created a stir.
The scene was both pathetic and outrageous. The last of Netanyahu’s devoted followers, who believe he is the man who will bring peace, would have immediately changed their minds. Presidents Barack Obama and Shimon Peres, who continue to maintain that Netanyahu will bring peace, would be talking differently had they seen this secretly filmed video clip. Even the objection of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to conducting direct negotiations with the man from the video would be understandable. What is there to discuss with a huckster whose sole purpose is “to give 2 percent in order to prevent 100 percent,” as his father told him, quoting his grandfather.
Israel has had many rightist leaders since Menachem Begin promised “many Elon Morehs,” but there has never been one like Netanyahu, who wants to do it by deceit, to mock America, trick the Palestinians and lead us all astray. The man in the video betrays himself in his own words as a con artist, and now he is again prime minister of Israel. Don’t try to claim that he has changed since then. Such a crooked way of thinking does not change over the years.
Forget the Bar-Ilan University speech, forget the virtual achievements in his last visit to the United States; this is the real Netanyahu. No more claims that the Palestinians are to blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords. Netanyahu exposed the naked truth to his hosts at Ofra: he destroyed the Oslo accords with his own hands and deeds, and he’s even proud of it. After years in which we were told that the Palestinians are to blame, the truth has emerged from the horse’s mouth.
And how did he do it? He recalled how he conditioned his signing of the 1997 Hebron agreement on American consent that there be no withdrawals from “specified military locations,” and insisted he choose those same locations, such as the whole of the Jordan Valley, for example. “Why is that important? Because from that moment on I stopped the Oslo Accords,” he boasts. The real Netanyahu also brags about his knowledge of America: “I know what America is. America is something that can be moved easily.” For the White House’s information.
He calls then-U.S. President Bill Clinton “extremely pro-Palestinian,” and says the Palestinians want to throw us into the sea. With such retrograde beliefs, no one can convincingly argue that he wants an agreement.
These remarks are profoundly depressing. They bear out all of our fears and suspicions: that the government of Israel is led by a man who doesn’t believe the Palestinians and doesn’t believe in the chance of an agreement with them, who thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes. There’s no point in talking about Netanyahu’s impossible rightist coalition as an obstacle to progress. From now on, just say that Netanyahu doesn’t want it.
What if Kadima joins the government and Yisrael Beiteinu leaves? Nothing will change. What if Danny Danon goes leftist and Tzipi Hotovely joins Peace Now? Netanyahu doesn’t want it.
If he had said so honestly, as he did when he thought the camera in Ofra was turned off, then he could have been forgiven for his extreme positions. It’s his right to think that way and get elected for it. The people will have gotten what they chose. But when Netanyahu hides his real positions under camouflage netting and entangles them in webs of deceit, he not only reduces the chances of reaching an agreement, he also damages Israel’s political culture. Many people may want a right-wing, nationalist prime minister, but a prime minister who is a con artist? Is is too much to expect of Netanyahu that he speak to us precisely as he spoke in Ofra? Why do a handful of settlers deserve to know the truth, and not us? Tell us the truth, Netanyahu. Talk to us as if the cameras were off, just as you thought then, in 2001 in Ofra.
Richard Silverstein , 14 July 2010
Israel’s Channel 10 secured a video (Hebrew) recorded in 2001 during the height of a Palestinian terror campaign against Israel and the settlements. It records a condolence call Bibi Netanyahu, recently “retired” from politics after losing the prime ministership and leaving the Sharon government (where he had been Finance Minister), pays on a group of West Bank widows whose husbands had been killed by Palestinian attacks.
For those on the Israeli right who claim that the Oslo Accords broke down due to Palestinian terror or any such thing, watch this and you will see that Bibi brags that he destroyed Oslo. Even if you discount this by half as the braggadocio of a macho Israeli politician, it’s still eye-opening. Gideon Levy too has written about this footage in Haaretz.
Note in the first passage how Bibi brags that he has America wrapped around his thumb. The cynicism is breathtaking. Here is Dena Shunra’s translation:
Bibi:…The Arabs are currently focusing on a war of terror and they think it will break us. The main thing, first of all, is to hit them. Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne. The price is not too heavy to be borne, now. A broad attack on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to the point of being afraid that everything is collapsing…
Woman: Wait a moment, but then the world will say “how come you’re conquering again?”
Netanyahu: the world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending.
Woman: Aren’t you afraid of the world, Bibi?
Netanyahu: Especially today, with America. I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction.
Child: They say they’re for us, but, it’s like…
Netanyahu: They won’t get in our way. They won’t get in our way.
Child: On the other hand, if we do some something, then they…
Netanyahu: So let’s say they say something. So they said it! They said it! 80% of the Americans support us. It’s absurd. We have that kind of support and we say “what will we do with the…” Look. That administration [Clinton] was extremely pro-Palestinian. I wasn’t afraid to maneuver there. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the United Nations. I was paying the price anyway, I preferred to receive the value. Value for the price.
In the following segment, Bibi boasts about how he emptied the Oslo Accords of meaning by an interpretation that made a mockery of them:
Woman: The Oslo Accords are a disaster.
Netanyahu: Yes. You know that and I knew that…The people [nation] has to know…
What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: “Will you act according to them?” and I answered: “yes, subject to mutuality and limiting the retreats.” “But how do you intend to limit the retreats?” “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it?
Narrator: The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different pulses, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.
Netanyahu: No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.
Woman: Right [laughs]…The Beit She’an Valley.
Netanyahu: How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter – to my and to Arafat, at the same time – which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: “I’m not signing.” Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to my and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.
Woman: And despite that, one of our own people, excuse me, who knew it was a swindle, and that we were going to commit suicide with the Oslo Accord, gives them – for example – Hebron…
Netanyahu: Indeed, Hebron hurts. It hurts. It’s the thing that hurts. One of the famous rabbis, whom I very much respect, a rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, he said to me: “What would your father say?” I went to my father. Do you know a little about my father’s position?
…He’s not exactly a lily-white dove, as they say. So my father heard the question and said: “Tell the rabbi that your grandfather, Rabbi Natan Milikowski, was a smart Jew. Tell him it would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal. Instead of a hundred percent.” The trick is not to be there and be broken. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.
Here are a few of Levy’s choice characterizations of Bibi’s performance in this video:
…Israel has had many rightist leaders since Menachem Begin…but there has never been one like Netanyahu, who wants to do it by deceit, to mock America, trick the Palestinians and lead us all astray. The man in the video betrays himself in his own words as a con artist, and now he is again prime minister of Israel. Don’t try to claim that he has changed since then. Such a crooked way of thinking does not change over the years.
Forget the Bar-Ilan University speech…this is the real Netanyahu. No more claims that the Palestinians are to blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords. Netanyahu exposed the naked truth to his hosts at Ofra: he destroyed the Oslo accords with his own hands and deeds, and he’s even proud of it. After years in which we were told that the Palestinians are to blame, the truth has emerged from the horse’s mouth.
…The government of Israel is led by a man who…thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes.
It should be noted that Bibi isn’t the only prime minister who boasted of such manipulation of the U.S. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s Mephisto bragged of “putting the peace process in formaldehyde” via the Gaza withdrawal. He too claimed he had George Bush wrapped around his little finger (though he didn’t say which one).
This seems to be a fashion among right-wing Israel prime ministers. They come to believe their own press clippings. But really who is to blame for this but American presidents who allow Israeli leaders to outwit and outmaneuver them? When has an American president, except perhaps George Bush pere, ever stood up to Israel and won? And I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion it won’t ever happen with the current president.