“We have three problems,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman quipped during an April 29 speech in New York, “Iran, Iran, Iran.” Israel does not have a Palestinian problem, nor problems of poverty and corruption. Fortunately, there is Iran. Liberman did not invent the Iranian magic bullet for every ailment. That patent is registered to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s top presenter who on April 30 recycled information about Iran’s nuclear program using amateurish show-and-tell aids. Here is what the prime minister said three years ago in response to a sharp rebuke by the government’s watchdog agency, the State Comptroller, on housing policy failure: “When we talk about the cost of housing, cost of living, I never forget for one moment life itself.” This is how Netanyahu dismissed his critics for dealing in minutiae. And what is “life itself”? The struggle against Iran, of course. “The biggest threat to our lives now is Iran’s nuclear armament,” Netanyahu went on to explain on his Facebook page.
In addition to the Iranian nuclear issue and Iranian-sponsored terrorism, Israel now has the Iranian problem on the Syrian border. However, an additional Iranian problem hides behind these three but fails to get worthy coverage; when “life itself is under threat,” only a fool would bother the man who protects it with questions about a few cigars (as Netanyahu supporters refer dismissively to the police investigations against him on suspicions of corruption). Netanyahu himself advanced this approach only recently, when he insisted on speaking at the April 18 torch-lighting ceremony marking Israel’s 70th Independence Day, against the tradition reserving that honor to the Knesset speaker. When Netanyahu conducted his hostile takeover of national prime time and spoke about “our enemies that think we’re a passing fad," who wants to think about the state of the country’s education system? How many Israelis took the trouble to fact-check the speech by the prime minister, who pledged on Israel’s festive birthday, “In 70 years, you will find here a state that is far stronger than today.” His promise is based on the assumption that a country’s long-term might is only measured by the number of its missiles, fighter jets and tanks.