Thursday, May 21, 2009


“What an ass-kicking!” gushed Uzi Arad, Binyamin Netanyahu’s chief national security sycophant. “Oy, if it had been a fight they would’ve stopped it. Hey, it was a fight. And nobody stopped it!”

Arad was just one of the Prime Minister’s entourage who exulted after the first face-to-face meeting with the US President. The most difficult task, according to many in the Israeli delegation, was keeping a straight face before the cameras. “Gaza was tougher!” said one advisor, who requested anonymity because he'd wet himself while laughing. “At least they scored a few hits. But this was man against boy.”

The Israeli team basked among their accomplishments, which one insider called “an embarrassment of riches.” Best of all, they said, Mr. Netanyahu had drawn Obama into establishing a half-year deadline for diplomacy with Iran. The message to Iran was clear – Israel will strike in early 2010, and the West and the Arab autocracies will have no choice or inclination but to support Israel against the aggressive Shi’ite renegade.

Bibi also defined the defeat of both Iran and Hamas - along with the Arab world’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state – as preconditions for even the most trivial alteration of the status quo with the Palestinians. Further, his supporters gleefully emphasized, there is no pressure on Israel to actually make any concessions that would remotely approach the Palestinian’s minimum desires. Jerusalem was never even publicly mentioned.

“All the pressure’s on America,” said Uzi Arad. “Not just about Iran. They also have to make the Arabs delete the Pal refugees from their little peace initiative. We’re the State of the Jewish People, my friend. And let’s hear some more ideas about our security. Something new and exciting and regrettably inadequate.”

“Viewed broadly," said academic jive-artist Eran Lerman, “Israel has successfully turned the clock back to pre-Oslo. It’s as if those years and discussions and agreements never happened. We’ve split the West Bank from Gaza, divided the Palestinian leadership among two antagonists, appropriated more land, enveloped East Jerusalem, built a big barrier that contains them but not us and completely mapped out our long-term future without regard to any ambiguous commitment we might have made in the past. Yet all Mr. Obama could come up with was cleaner water for Gaza. Which we correctly treated as premature and trivial.”

Uzi Arad echoed this theme, noting that Obama established no express or implied penalty for any Israeli conduct or omission. “Name one concrete thing we really have to do. We left Obama our to-do list. Where’s his?” When asked if the evacuation of a single West Bank outpost after the Washington meeting came from Obama’s “to-do list,” Arad smiled and shook his head. “That was just good manners. Israel is a gracious nation. And the Jewish People know how to rebuild at the appropriate time.”

Portfolio-Deficient Minister Benny Begin took the point further. “Listen, Bibi put all the onus on the Palestinians. End incitement, ‘educate their children for peace.’ Stop all violence. Then we’ll progress toward something you already have, like local responsibility for law and order in Area A.”

Reached by telephone, the PM himself happily recalled a favorite moment from the Washington encounter. He was particularly delighted with his delivery of the line “we don’t want to govern the Palestinians.” While he simply meant that "Israel wants land without Arabs, I can’t prevent unsophisticated observers from misconstruing my words as suggesting a two-state solution.”

The consensus among Israel’s delegation was that Obama, as a generalist and a part-timer on Middle Eastern issues, was predictably outmaneuvered by a determined and focused specialist with decades of experience in pro-Israeli advocacy. “Obama didn’t get the nuances,” said Ron Dermer, the PM’s policy chief and pool cleaner. “Not like we do. Obama’s got Chrysler and health care and two wars and the banks and all the rest of the music. We just play one song.”

Still, Arad mused, they’d expected more from the new US administration. “I heard somebody ask 'Why wasn't the President better tuned? Who prepares him?' Well, guess what?” said Arad. “We do.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has sequestered himself in a remote location in the Negev Desert as he readies his mind, body and spirit for his May 18 meeting with US President Barak Obama. Sources close to the PM say he’s “completely locked on. You wouldn’t want to be Barry Obama right now.”

Bibi’s preparation has gone through several stages, the sources disclose. Initially, he insisted that every element of his vigorous training be described to Obama, as if he hoped to vanquish the inexperienced US President before they ever met. “You know Bibi. His first instinct is to intimidate his foe,” said Uzi Arad, who was barred from the US until his ironic selection as a liaison to the Obama administration. “Actually, that’s his only instinct. I mean that in a good way.”

To make sure Obama got the message, the PM’s entourage released a video montage of Bibi training beyond human endurance. To the driving beat of “Getting Strong Now,” the PM charges over sand dunes beneath a punishing sun, pummels a side of kashrut beef with his bloodied fists, pops rapid-fire crunches with Minister of Transportation and Road Safety Yisrael Katz sitting on his chest, quenches his thirst from the teats of a lactating Canaan Dog, and (in archival footage) bolts up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not far from his high school, where he head-butts the Rocky Balboa statue until it passes out. As Bibi exults, the image cross-fades to the top of Masada. Back-lighted by the setting sun, the PM slowly turns to tell the camera “When I say ‘torch Iran,’ you ask ‘how hot?’”

But advisors cautioned Netanyahu that the video might backfire. Trying so hard to appear invincible, they warned, could be interpreted as an over-compensation for weakness. “Without question, Bibi’s greatest fear is weakness,” explained Minister Without Portfolio Benny Begin. “I don’t mean fear - the man has no fear. I mean he opposes weakness very strongly.”

Netanyahu embraced his advisors’ concern. He zealously cultivated an image of nonchalance, even decadence, to project overweening confidence. He allowed journalists to “accidentally” discover him sunbathing drunk on a floating cushion, watching Beitar Jerusalem on a plasma screen over a swim-up bar. Two days later, a Channel 2 camera “happened” to catch him snorting coke through a 200-shekel note. The PM’s handlers didn’t evict the news crew as Bibi alternately ranted and cajoled. “What was Hussein Obama before they gave him the big desk?” he shouted. “Sarah Palin nailed it, baby - a ‘community organizer.’ Wow. Bet that really toughened him up. Like, gee, I was just an elite Sayeret Matkal commando with dozens of confirmed kills and grievous wounds. Guess I should be shaking in my boots. By the way, if Palin’s in DC, I’m tapping her.” Bibi then excused himself to get a “real Israeli blow job.”

By the following afternoon, the PM had abandoned the relaxed front. “He felt it looked weak,” Uzi Arad explained. “Bibi just doesn’t do weak.” The PM huddled with his advisors that evening and decided to present a picture of statesmanship and gravitas. “You know, the Bibi with glasses,” Arad said. Journalists were permitted to watch the PM from a respectful distance as he gazed thoughtfully at the Eternal Land of Israel, knelt at the bedside of the comatose (yet erect) Ariel Sharon, pretended to listen to a rabbi construing a minor tractate, studied an official report entitled “The Iranian Plan to Dominate the World,” and somberly inscribed his name on what may or may not have been a nuclear warhead at Dimona.

“It looked great, but we knew it wasn’t right. He was just campaigning again,” said attorney and enabler Yitzhak Molcho. “Listen, Bibi loves campaigning, because he’s getting over on a whole lot of people. But this Obama thing is about the deal. Make the killer deal, screw the other guy, make him your frayer.

Netanyahu immediately refocused. The key, he told his advisors, is to completely control the terms of the negotiation. In a discourse recorded by think-tank shill Eran Lerman, Bibi declared, “We’ll only talk about my deal. His deal’s already dead. My deal – the deal - is busting Iran. That’s it. No Jerusalem, no Golan, no settlement limits, no cockamamie Palestinian Hamastan. Not happening.”

The PM emphasized, however, that vanquishing Iran would hardly be his starting position. “Hell no. First I demand everything and anything until his head hurts. Full recognition as the State of the Jewish People. More military aid to us. More military purchases from us. Most favored nation among most favored nations. More guarantees. Fewer questions. Zero Arab return.”

Mr. Netanyahu then conducted a mock negotiation, with Vice Prime Minister and unctuous back-stabber Silvan Shalom standing in for Obama. Shalom attempted to discuss issues as broad as the framework for Palestinian statehood and as narrow as removing certain roadblocks in the West Bank. Bibi rebuffed them all, with a combination of outrage, bemusement and outright derision. On several occasions, he simply upped the ante - insisting, for example, on prior approval of American contacts with Arab countries and 5% of US GDP for settlement expansion. “That teaches Obama that opening his mouth only makes it worse,“ Shalom explained.

“I just hope he’s not over-preparing,” remarked Naor Gilon, espionage gamester and chief of staff for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “Listen, all he needs is one word – 'no.' We own the status quo. We’ll do Iran ourselves. And everyone’ll smile when we do. So what else is new?”

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