By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
Binyamin Netanyahu is the most American prime minister that Israel has ever had. He lived in the United States for many years and at some point even made his surname more pronounceable for Americans. He seems to have learnt there more than impeccable English. One has sometimes a feeling that he sees himself as the Israeli version of an American president. Perhaps even his official residence is perceived by him and his family as the Jerusalem version of the White House.
His wife Sarah is obviously the First Lady accompanying her husband on every foreign trip and being around at every important event in the country. The late Meir Dagan, when he was spy chief, is said to have come one day to brief the prime minister, but refused to speak because Mrs. Netanyahu was in the room, and she had no security clearance. He insisted that she leave. As a result, it has been said, Dagan was never invited back to the prime minister’s residence.
All this may, of course, have been an invention of the evil media who, according to the prime ministerial couple, are persecuting them by spreading lies. As the First Lady of Israel said to the First Lady of the United States when the latter visited Jerusalem with her husband Donald Trump: “We have so much in common: the media hate us but the people love us.”
Now we may also be having the First Son. Yair Netanyahu, in his mid-20s, makes pronouncements of his own that echo his father’s views. Israeli media report that his latest attack on some of his father’s left-wing opponents was accompanied by a cartoon that they describe as anti-Semitic. Much has also been made of Yair’s connection to one of the family’s neighbours in Caesarea, the Australian tycoon James Packer, who has been questioned by police in connection with one of the investigations about the prime minister’s rich friends.
A number of the investigations are connected with the comings and goings at the prime minister’s residence. Netanyahu blames it all on a major domo who has turned state witness to save his own skin. The public at large remains ignorant. Not facts but political prejudices tend to determine on whose side you find yourself.
All this is unheard of in the history of the State of Israel. Some prime minister’s wives may have been present on state occasions but they usually stayed in the background. They are said to have lived very modestly.
Mr. and Mrs. Netanyahu have just left for the Americas, which should give them a few days’ respite from media attacks and probably some good press on their return. The prime minister’s foreign travels seem to have brought good things to Israel; even his critics admit it.
However, a prime minister – and this one is also foreign minister – can’t stay away for long. Soon after the First Couple’s return, Mrs. Netanyahu may end up in court. The question that’s on the mind of many is how long can her husband stay at the helm.
He himself is getting ready for his next successful election and continuation in office. He might do well to bear in mind that even the president of the United States only has two terms. And Netanyahu has been prime minister longer than that.