11 March 2007

Bibi - normal services are being resumed

Hope springs eternal in the human breast, and no breast harbours hope more readily than that of a politician whose sensitive nose catches a whiff of possible elections.

Uncharacteristically, Benjamin Netanyahu aka Bibi, kept relatively quiet for the duration of the second Lebanon war and several months since. There were good reasons not to rock the boat, both consideration of the timing and misgivings of a personal nature. Now, however, with the polls showing him as a clear favorite and the dissenting voices from the ruling party growing stronger, Bibi has decided that the time is ripe. And the engines of rhetoric are revving up, soon to be unleashed on the population. The latest interview with Haaretz shows Bibi in all his monumental vagueness. It is not that Bibi does not have a perfect solution to any conceivable problem, it is that after mulling over the text for a few seconds, you discover the good ole Bibi, which is in short a lot of hot air. To take a few examples:

I see a unique opportunity for progress in the peace process with moderate Arab partners, for a simple reason: There is identification of a shared threat...
An old canard. Already used by Bibi in his previous stint as PM, pointing to some unidentified moderate partners (no names, of course). Now, what about the possible withdrawal from the occupied territories?
If I knew that I had a genuine partner. I have already proved that I am prepared to make certain concessions, not sweeping or unlimited, but I demanded mutuality and as long as I received it, I was able to progress.
You figure it out, I cannot. Now, how about the Saudi initiative (a Trojan horse if there ever was one)? I have decided to quote the full answer, brilliant in its... what the heck, see for yourself:
The Saudi initiative cannot be implemented in terms of its details, but we have to aspire to an arrangement in which it is clear that if Israel is required to make additional concessions, it knows from the start that there will be no more demands and that the conflict is reaching an end. That did not exist in the negotiations that we conducted until now. We have to make an arrangement, get to the end, and then go backward.
Go ahead, deconstruct this one, I challenge you. Let's move to the Iranian nuclear threat. As it is astutely mentioned in the article, "Netanyahu has long been acting like the opposition head of the Majlis, Iran's parliament, rather than that of the Knesset. His public criticism is directed toward Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." Forgetting that we already have a minister for strategic threats, one Avigdor Lieberman, Bibi us circling the globe with some initiatives that are supposed to stem the irresistible urge of Ayatollahs for the nuke. Here are his ideas:
  • Imposing a "secondary boycott" on the Iranian economy. "All who feared military efforts against Iran should welcome an economic means that can render military activity unnecessary," Netanyahu said. Not to mention the clear unwillingness of EU, China and Russia to go there, persuading the US pension funds to divest from companies and even nations conducting business with Iran is a pipe dream, and Bibi knows it quite well.
  • Calling for Ahmadinejad to stand trial for incitement to genocide. And what does this brilliant move solve in regards of Iranian nuclear aspirations?
  • To top the previous two, "This week, he submitted a similar bill in the Knesset, which, if passed, would ban Israeli investment in multinational companies active in Iran." No comments.
The futility of these ideas is quite clear, but this is not the point. The point is that creating an impression of feverish activity on the Iranian front allows Bibi to rain sulphur on the incumbent chief, presenting him as even more inept than he is indeed. And building the momentum to carry him to the object of his longing - the PM's chair.

We are witnessing the first shots in the coming war of rhetoric, which will grow in intensity in coming months, this is a given. It will be interesting to watch the rabbits Bibi still has to pull out of his voluminous magician's hat. While being vaguely drawn, the rabbits could still be entertaining.

As any astute politician, Bibi is counting on the unbelievably short memory of the voters. And he is, probably, correct in this assessment. Unfortunately for us.