Yoel Marcus
Haaretz (Opinion)
December 23, 2011 - 1:00am

The situation is so funny that I feel like crying. There's something about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, despite his pretensions to glory as the nation's unparalleled leader, and despite the basso-profundo voice that presents him as a person of authority and the nation's savior, makes him look like a caricature of a leader.

During his first term, his puppet starred in the satirical television puppet show "Hartzufim," each episode of which ended with the tune of his campaign jingle, "a secure peace." There was something amusing about that Bibi that made viewers laugh. Maybe because he provided neither peace nor security - and hasn't to this very day.

During his second term, there is no longer any need to produce humorous skits in which he stars. Now all the country is a stage, and all his aides and advisers are his comedians. David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister, had a bureau with only four aides. Bibi's bureau, with its plethora of officials and advisers, looks like the backstage of a concert hall.

Ben-Gurion had no spokesmen. He was his own spokesman and explained his own policy. Bibi's world, says Dr. Nachman Shai, is as narrow as that of an ant. That also explains his obsession with media and public relations advisers. Or to be more precise: with a chorus that sings his praises as he sees them.

At first he didn't plan to participate in the memorial service for the 44 people who died in last year's Carmel forest fire, for fear that on the same day, the State Comptroller's Office would publish a report that would not present him as the man who saved the situation. Afterward he decided to attend, but not before his chorus of aides wrote a speech glorifying him, which would not have shamed the late North Korean President Kim Jong Il.

Bibi, who is far from having a sense of humor, became a target of jokes and barbs this week. He was called the Sun of Nations; they told him: You're a hero, you're great, you're strong, you dribble a ball faster than soccer star Leo Messi, you're the founder of the state, you fought in your youth against the "poppies" (soldiers of the British Mandate ). Your leadership was the force that motivated the Hasmoneans, who led the revolt against the Greeks in the second century B.C.E.

I don't know whether radio broadcaster Dan Kaner, who buttered up Bibi's ego, had to restrain himself in order not to laugh. But he's a professional presenter, who received the text from the Prime Minister's Office. And as if that weren't enough, they even complimented Bibi on fighting the fire and being the driving force behind the monument. Not only did he understand the magnitude of the event, he also mobilized all those people in Israel and abroad to help extinguish the fire and even established the monument, all on such short notice and with such a tight schedule. A real superman.

"Only someone who has experienced the pain of bereavement knows the depth of your suffering," Bibi told the families. This isn't the first time Bibi has exploited his brother's death in the 1976 Entebbe hostage rescue - as if he were the only person in the country who has lost a brother. MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor ) rightly termed this a cynical song of praise.

Netanyahu suffers from bad judgment when it comes to choosing the people who work with him. He has no responsible adult alongside him - someone who would give statesmanlike advice and prevent the prime minister from doing foolish things instead of merely helping the Netanyahus look good. Take, for example, Rahm Emanuel, who resigned from Congress in order to work on Barack Obama's presidential election campaign. Or Prof. Henry Kissinger, who served as national security adviser to President Richard Nixon, though Nixon was not a big fan of Jews. Nixon established relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States and helped us during the Yom Kippur War.

An adviser to a head of state must be a serious person who is not seeking to butter his own bread. Dov Weissglas is a good example of an adviser who was not concerned with providing for his family or his future, but focused on giving Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sage assistance.

In Bibi's office, at least five people are involved in public relations. Yet this commando of spokesmen did not succeed in preventing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from saying publicly that Bibi was damaging the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Bibi is pinning his hopes on Defense Minister Ehud Barak to rehabilitate relations with the U.S. administration during his many visits to America.

And all this is happening when Bibi has the most solid majority any prime minister has had for years, with no opposition endangering his rule. There isn't a single party today that dreams about advancing the elections. We have never had a prime minister as stable as Bibi in his refusal to discuss permanent borders and lead us to peace.

For that reason, Bibi's judgment in his choice of his advisers is cause for concern. If they are the ones who influence the man who has his finger on the button, we should be losing sleep at night.


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