Israeli Realities

Reporting (almost) daily from Israel.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bibi Netanyahu Resigns

The hottest news in this hot week here in Israel, has been the sudden resignation of Bibi Netanyahu. Instinctively, many sighed with relief, however, at second thought they became concerned. Such an inexplicable timing raised near paranoia=like symptoms among commentator - what is HE up to, now ? Despite the numerous commentaries and editorials, the reasons remain a mystery, to some extent. My guess, it has to do with events in the USA.

Americans and other foreigners rarely understand the Israeli reality. I believe that primarily they fail to perceive how little Israelis know about their own government and leaders. Americans assume that Israelis know what they know, but therein lies their grave mistake. This month has given me a good opportunity to witness this phenomenon. The entire AIPAC-Gate situation is hardly known here. In fact, very few people here know what AIPAC is. This might come as a surprise to Americans, who perceive Israel is part of the global village of news and analysis. However, the media in Israel has a different agenda. Most Israelis do not read English and would certainly not make the effort to read long commentaries and complex items. The government can easily control the flow of news, and the emphasis given to any event, and practically withhold information from the public - without taking any legal measure. If something is not published in the three large newspapers, or in the networks, it does not exist. Conveniently, the Israelis can be easily manipulated, especially with regards to Israel's operations abroad. Thus, Israelis are also quite ignorant of the Jack Abramoff scandal or the Rove/CIA scandal. Certainly, they would not see the connection between those events and Bibi Netanyahu's decisions, or any major move here in Israel. The "wall of separation" erected between what happens here and what happens in the real world, reduces public awareness, scrutiny and influence over the real power and money games in Washington DC.

Netanyahu gave an official address to the public, saying that he decided to follow his conscience and protest against the disengagement. This is weird even on his terms, because he immediately said he sees the disengagement as a done deal. He just now passed the 2006 budget, and was going to implement the last part of his grand reform, the cutback in the defense budget and the appointment of his man to the office of general director. And then he left. More surprising is his announcement that he is leaving for a "pampering vacation" with this family in NYC. Netanyahu is aware of the impact, of his absence during the crucial days of the evacuation. If he left now, he HAD to be in NYC, and better still, not in formal capacity as a minister.

This is just my personal guess.


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