Amir Oren
Haaretz (Opinion)
December 22, 2011 - 1:00am

Benjamin Netanyahu was always first. He was the first to understand the extent of the Carmel fire, only 45 minutes after the flames had consumed the bus carrying the prison service cadets. He was the first to publicize his glory with his very own announcement. And he was the first to understand that the self-aggrandizement had made him look ridiculous. Then he attacked the sycophants who had acted in his spirit.

It's a shame the bragging turned into a national joke - though a justified one - as quickly as an east wind near Haifa blows during a dry December. This is no mere trifle but rather the shape of Netanyahu's mental world. What we saw this week is exactly what there is. In Farsi it sounds even funnier, and according to the words of people close to him, it's frightening to think about the hands that are steering the wheels of state.

Netanyahu believes he has a mission on earth - to save the people of Israel. The name chosen by his forbears commits him. After all, instead of Mileikowski, they chose the name that means "he who was God-given," not some neutral name. The Lord in His benevolence has given him to his nation.

To fulfill his mission, he was equipped with supernatural powers, first and foremost the ability to prophesy. Netanyahu is truly convinced he can see the future, that he was born to anticipate events. Ze'ev Jabotinsky, according to Revisionist mythology, foresaw the Holocaust. Benzion Netanyahu was Jabotinsky's secretary late in the right-wing leader's life. Benjamin Netanyahu, who foresees a holocaust brought on by Iran, is continuing the prophetic dynasty.

Who cares that not everything he has prophesied has come true? Netanyahu believes in his mission; it's merely the execution that's being delayed. He is easily alarmed, moves from one extreme to the other; sometimes he's haughty, sometimes he's slumped. He doesn't do enough and then he goes overboard. Since there was no war during his term, this characteristic came out during his tenure's two natural disasters - the Carmel fire and swine flu (when he was health minister ).

There was once a prime minister like that named Menachem Begin, who sent the Israel Defense Forces to war in Lebanon. Both of them sank - the army into the mud and the leader into a black mood.

Begin had Ariel Sharon. Netanyahu has Ehud Barak, his former commander, who exiled Netanyahu from the premiership only to return on all fours after several years to serve under him - the only one in the system Netanyahu lifts his eyes to and the only one who calms him when he's in doubt. The only minister whose portfolio is assured in the next Netanyahu government. It's a sure thing that Netanyahu will bring him into the club and the Knesset on his ticket, noting that "he has values."

Even though Netanyahu foresaw Iran's future, that nuclear capability that's just waiting to bring on a calamity, something went wrong. The birth is being held up. Nine months went by, and 18 and 27, but Netanyahu's second government has not yet been the savior. So an alternative mission has been found - to continue to rule. Early elections and then another term whose aim will be to prepare the term that follows. If he can just stay in office until after 2013 and serve seven straight years, only David Ben-Gurion will be ahead of him.

Netanyahu talks about excellence but surrounds himself with mediocrity. It's terrifying to see how the office that's supposed to manage Israel's affairs is conducted. This all is also linked, as we know, to Netanyahu's status as the deputy head of a family. So much of his schedule is subject to caprices he has no control over that some people believe he should declare himself incapacitated.

When they got older, most of Likud's princes and princesses changed their views and became parents-of rather than sons-of, or the brother-of and the husband-of. The soothsayer, however, is stuck in the past. As long as he's happy with himself.


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