By “relationship,” I mean my rising and falling emotions toward our prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. There was a time – about 17 years ago – when I even worked in his office, in his very office, even beyond the glass doors, but I was so young and shy that I didn’t dare to even exchange one word with him. So whoever thought that I was referring to something else in the title should be ashamed!
My relationship with Bibi began when I was a young high school student at Lehava High School in Kedumim. The school brought in a guest speaker, a young, charismatic man who had just completed his service as the Israeli ambassador to the UN. I don't remember a word of what he said, but I do remember that he was impressive in a different way, not like anything I was familiar with. The relationship was reinforced after his unbelievable victory in the elections following the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin. Yet, my excitement subsequently came crashing down when he announced that the Oslo Accords would remain in effect, despite all of my hopes and prayers.
Currently, my relationship with Bibi has reached new heights – I never liked him as much as I do now. The hatred being spewed out at him has the opposite effect on me. I watch as leading newspapers and news websites break every professional standard just to arouse the nation’s hatred toward him, and I just love him more.
I see how my friends and acquaintances from the Israeli left-wing (I don't have many of them, being a settler, daughter of settlers) are showering him with plenty of animosity. They are so bent on seeing his demise, to a degree at which the right wing has never attacked the left (not even Rabin! We were angry at him but we didn’t hate him so vehemently, with the exception of one crazy person), and he just becomes more valuable to me.
What is it about him that they enjoy hating so much? And slandering, and looking for any fragment of a “story,” for the smallest pretext for accusation. After all, there were other right-wing leaders who stole the government from them – from the Israeli left. They didn’t like them either, and they sneered at them as well. But not like this.
Maybe it’s because he was supposed to be one of them. Because someone who is so brilliant and eloquent and unbending and focused and speaks with strength and confidence and radiates the epitome of leadership, and stands proudly in the face of the entire world – is supposed to be left wing, correct? Since our senior media professionals and our senior Supreme Court judges and our senior academics are left-wing, how does he dare to be both right-wing and so talented? Winning the elections over and over again!
The truth is that I kind of exaggerated with the superlatives. Perhaps I wish that’s the way things were now. Things were once like that, and they’re still like that, but primarily when he’s in the opposition. Inside of him, he has values and depth and a clear perspective. But the moment he sits on the prime minister’s chair, something nevertheless succeeds in confusing him. The impossible tension plays its part, because from all around the world, not just at home, arrows and intense pressure are being shot at him. Sometimes he does become stressed, and he gets confused, and he bends. When he’s prime minister, I’m not completely calm. But despite everything, he’s the least unbending leader that we have. Every thought of a different prime minister, one of those purporting to succeed him, arouses in me great concern. It is specifically in these hateful days when attempts are being made to drown him that the love of many toward him – myself included – increasingly grows.
If we’re talking relationships, I had a mini-relationship with his wife, Sara. It happened a few months after Uri Elitzur was borrowed from his job editing “Nekuda” magazine to fill the position of Head of the Prime Minister’s Office in Netanyahu’s first term. He brought me with him to the office to help him write the Prime Minister’s letters, and she also asked for my writing assistance. It’s interesting, tons of people write to her, detailing their long stories of misery in letters drenched in tears and tribulations. They ask for her help, as if the prime minister’s wife has some sort of magic wand to solve the problems of anyone who has already had the door shut in their face. She would contact the relevant government minister and ask that the matter be examined in depth to see if there was a way to untangle the mess. No, it’s not that I think that she’s secretly a righteous soul, but she isn’t the biggest witch in this country, nor is she the most evil woman in the Middle East. She is another weak link in the unfair assault on the prime minister, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were politically motivated groups pulling the strings behind her.
It is so pitiful that in these elections, the level of hostility has risen to new heights. We too, the settlers, have all become a target for the poisonous arrows. “It’s a scandal!” the Meretz election announcement warns of funds being quietly transferred to the settlements, and the despised monster who is stealing all of our money grows and grows. When there are monsters, there are no people.
But despite this increasing hostility, I’m not giving up. We witnessed so much love this summer, and it didn’t entirely dissipate. It is paralyzed now, internalized, hidden, offended in the corner, but it is still alive, and the day will come when it will again shine forth. I just hope the circumstances won’t be so painful again when that happens.