Friday, February 12, 2016

First lady follies

First lady arrives in court to testify. October 2015 [Image Source
I can't think of a more appropriate time than now to note that Sara Netanyahu  played a key role in the Shalit Deal. The fact that she was nothing but the wife of the Prime Minister, never elected nor appointed to any official government position, didn't stop her from throwing her weight around. Worse, it didn't stop her husband from empowering her in a  critical matter of state.

But first the current headlines.

For those who have been visiting Mars - this week, in a labor court case, the judge ruled [“Ex-caretaker wins abuse case against Sara Netanyahu”, Times of Israel, February 10, 2016] that Mrs. Netanyahu verbally and emotionally abused her employee and awarded him damages of 170,000 shekels. She added: 
“Numerous testimonies presented to the court point to an atmosphere of harmful work conditions at the residence due to the behavior of Mrs. Netanyahu and her attitude toward the workers. These included irrational demands, insults, humiliation and outbursts of rage.” [Associated Press - Washington Post, February 10, 2016]
In a 2012 interview, the prime minister Netanyahu made a revealing concession:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu credited his wife, Sara, for pushing him to execute the prisoner exchange that released Gilad Schalit from captivity in October. “She was probably the most influential factor in my decision to bring about the release of Gilad Schalit and he has been fine since then,” Netanyahu told the German newspaper Bild… “It was a tough decision, but we value every life. Our enemies celebrate death, that’s why they think we are weak. They are wrong. We love life but we are also ready to defend our lives,” he said. [Jerusalem Post, October 6, 2012]
Image Source
We all know that the life Netanyahu was really thinking about is his political life. 

And with opinion polls at that time showing that nearly 80% of the public favored caving in to Hamas demands for a mass release of convicted murderers, Netanyahu and his wife saw their decision as a no-brainer.

In order to cement their relationship with the Shalit parents, PM Netanyahu and his wife hosted them at their home (photo at right) prior to announcing the sealing of the Shalit Deal. 

Remember that what incenses us isn't the  irrational, less-than-sane behavior that landed Sara Netanyahu with last week's decision. Reprehensible as that was, it impacted only a few individuals in a very personal way. What should concern us, though, is that this private citizen played a central role in what our prime minister has described as the most difficult decision he ever made.

The Shalit Deal is only one such instance that PM Netanyahu publicized. But in light of that revelation, we can safely presume that there were many other cases; other matters with grave repercussions for us all, in which his wife meddled or, was, as he put it, "the most influential factor in my decision".

We deserve a leader who is as riled by this misconduct as we are. Somebody who is motivated - and able - to rein in his loose-cannon wife. Our present one clearly is not. 

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