Salman Masalha ||
The father, the son and the holy ghost
Everything Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does and says conforms to the ideology of the family crucible that shaped his political path over the years. Even if for various family and other reasons shifts take place in the coalition, as long as he holds the reins there is no expectation of any significant shift in the diplomatic process between Israel and Palestine. Netanyahu is interested in the existence of a peace process only because of international pressures. He is not interested in what such a process is supposed to produce in the end – a division of the land into two states and all that implies.
The prime minister conducted himself in the past and continues to this day to conduct himself in the shadow of the heavy ideology he carries on his shoulders from the home of his father, Professor Benzion Netanyahu, who passed away nearly two years ago. In order to understand the prime minister’s thinking it is necessary to go back to his eulogy for his father, for indeed, this is the metal of which the man’s psyche and ideology were molded.
Thus spake the son in his eulogy for his father: “Many times, you told me that he who cannot understand the past, cannot understand the future, and he who cannot understand the present, how can he discover what the future will hold? You always told me that a necessary component for any living body – and a nation is a living body – is the ability to identify a danger in time, a quality that was lost to our people in exile … You taught me, Father, to look at reality head on, to understand what it holds and to come to the necessary conclusions.”
And there is more. To understand the son’s worldview with regard to this land, it is necessary to go to the father and what he said in his last interview to Channel 2: “This land is a Jewish land and not a land for Arabs. There is no place here for Arabs and there never will be,” said Professor Netanyahu decidedly.
This, then, was the education received by his son, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now – for the third time – prime minister of Israel. Only a child with considerable psychological and intellectual strength can free himself from the embrace of a father who imposes his ideology on the son. Only a child with an alternative vision can embark on a new path, separate from his father’s. It seems that this son has neither the mental strength nor the personal vision to do this and resolve the conflict between the two peoples.
With respect to ideology there is no difference between Naftali Bennett – the head of the religious nationalist party the Jewish Home – and Benjamin Netanyahu. All Netanyahu has wanted to achieve in his most recent statements has been “to expose the true face of the Palestinians,” as he says. He is only seeking a way to cast the blame for the failure of the talks on the other side, and nothing more.
However, the prime minister’s father was wise to these manipulations and exposed them in that interview to Channel 2. When Professor Netanyahu was asked about his son’s positions in support of a Palestinian state he replied: “He doesn’t support a Palestinian state. He supports it under conditions they will never accept. That’s what I have heard from him, not from myself. He has proposed the conditions. Those conditions – they will never accept a single one of them.”
To the obvious question of whether Netanyahu the son is able to free himself from the father and from the holy Jewish spirit hovering over the land – the answer is that the chances are nil.
So get ready for hard times ahead.
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, February 19, 2014