When I was invited to join the Prime Minister at his home in Jerusalem, along with other members of the English-speaking community in Israel, I expected to find myself in a large auditorium in which I would need binoculars to see Benjamin Netanyahu. To my surprise, the room was an outdoor space that could accommodate no more than fifty, with chairs arranged in an intimate circle, with a small table in the front.
The Prime Minister entered and to everyone’s complete astonishment, he went around the room, warmly shaking everyone’s hands, nodding to those he had met before. While he started out behind the small table, he soon had two armchairs brought in and joined the circle. The mystery of armchair number two was solved when to our surprise his wife Sarah joined him, smiling graciously.
I was surprised at how small she was. Dressed casually in a smart outfit of black pants, a checked top, and a black sweater, she looked tired, which is no wonder considering that she has been put through the wringer in what must be the lowest political campaign tactics I have ever witnessed in Israel.
What haven’t they accused her of? Bringing back bottles to the grocery and keeping the deposit (right, like with a full time job as a child psychologist, and the First Lady of Israel, she’s got time for that….), making her staff come back at midnight to wish her goodnight, and many more “crimes” of that ilk. This stuff has been going on for years. While people are always ready to believe the worst, even the most gullible of Israeli voters is beginning to smell a rat. If you can’t talk about your agenda, and your track record, and your achievements, and your ideas, then attack the most vulnerable of targets, a wife and mother whose only crime is being the married to the country’s leader. If you hurt her, you hurt him.
Unfortunately, that’s only too true. But we are the real losers.
With the head of the free world AWOL for the last six and a half years bowing to the Saudis, making an ass of himself in Cairo, and destroying America’s economy while he plays golf, Benjamin Netanyahu has been heroically cast as the world leader standing up to the world-shattering dangers of a nuclear Iran. Anything that hurts and weakens him, hurts and weakens the firmest wall of resistance to the Kool Aid being dished out to the masses regarding an “agreement” with Iran to halt its rush towards becoming a nuclear-industrial power that threatens every single, man, woman and child on Planet Earth.
While he was at the end of a long day by the time he joined us, Prime Minister Netanyahu began his talk with vigor and determination. “We are witnessing the collapse of the Middle East as we know it,” he told us. “Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen are gone.” Iran, on the rise, has already taken over parts of Yemen and is supplying arms to Lebanon. “In ten to twelve years, Iran will be a nuclear industrial power, and the greatest threat to the future of our world.”
Seventy years ago, he reminded us, we didn’t have the ability to speak out. Now we have a country, a government and an army. We have the ability to make ourselves heard. It would be an everlasting crime not to raise our voices against this existential threat which is “a mortal threat to our survival.” I am, he said with particular passion, “firmly committed to preventing it.” The negotiations with Iran, even if successful, will still allow Iran its stockpile of enriched uranium. With all the negotiations, Iran hasn’t budged. The only progress has been the West abandoning its opposition and moving towards Iran’s stance.
In answer to a question about negotiations with the Palestinians, he said with refreshing clarity that “any land handed over to the Palestinians has been given over to militant Islamist. We saw it with Lebanon, we saw it with Gaza.” The upcoming Israeli elections are vital. “If you want me as Prime Minister, you must vote for the Likud. A vote for any other party is a vote for the Left.”
This is true. Without a sweeping majority for his party, Netanyahu will not be able to form a government that will stand up against the failed policies of Leftists, responsible for numerous disasters in the last decade which saw us and our children blown up in buses, hotels, and bar mitzvahs. The delusional architects of “Oslo” and its “land for peace” idea that has been discredited again and again and again.
Pitted against the usual range of Leftists like Herzog and the self-promoting, do-nothing Livni – whose only notable decision was the disastrous push to end the war against Hezbollah too early leaving them armed and dangerous to kill another day – it is hard to argue that it is vital that the Likud win big.
This is a hard pill for many. I myself don’t agree with all Likud policies. But as Mr. Netanyahu pointed out, as far as social programs are concerned, there is only money to improve the quality of life for Israeli citizens if we have a strong economy. He was instrumental in guiding Israel to an enviable economic status, with an unemployment rate the West can only dream about. He really has led the country away from disastrous socialist policies of previous Labor governments, to a thriving entrepreneurial “start-up nation” that is being studied and envied all over the world.
Israel has benefited. There are new roads being built everywhere to make it possible for Israelis to live up north and down south and still be able to commute to work. He fought to free up public land for more housing and to move army bases and army industries from the center of the country to the Negev to free up space for residential housing.
As I listened to him speak, I felt so humbled, and sad really, that Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had to defy the most hostile American administration ever, a frothing United Nations filled with backwater terror-lovers and barbarians, a world-wide resurgence of lethal anti-Semitism, must also deal with a local population inexplicably swayed again and again by used car salesmen politicians hawking their discredit and broken down Leftist policies with a coat of fresh paint. Zionist Coalition? Who are they kidding? They won’t even agree to call Israel a Jewish State!
Mr. Netanyahu is flying to Washington to talk to Congress. He flew to France to march against terrorism and encourage French Jews to make aliyah. He presided over a terrible war against Gaza with success.
What else do we want the man to do?
I wanted to stand up and tell him to ignore his critics, that millions of people all over the world are proud that he is going to speak to Congress, to plead Israel’s case – the world’s case! – to force Iran, the most dangerous terrorist state since Nazi Germany, to give up its rush towards nuclear weapons. I wanted to tell him that the Israelis I know are appalled by the personal attacks made against him and his wife during this election campaign, the attempts to paint them as money-grubbing and living high on the hog (you should see the area of the Prime Minister’s official residence I saw: plastic curtains, plastic chairs, old woodwork…Turning it into a “palace” with public funds? Pul-leese.) We don’t believe a word, and if anything, we are going to vote Likud to spit in their faces. It’s called “backlash.”
The meeting ended with shocking informality. A woman from Zichron Yaakov got up and told the Prime Minister much of what I was too shy to say. To my astonishment, I could see the eyes of Sarah and Benjamin Netanyahu moisten at the warm words. He put his arm around his wife and hugged her.
It was so special, and yet so normal, being in that room, watching our Prime Minister in his penny loafers and off the rack suit, his grey hair greyer than I remember it. He is and was my hero. I will vote Likud and so should everyone else who wants to protect Israel’s children and her future.