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The Furniture Salesman and The General

by Yoav Haifawi

Bibi the Magician doing the Gantz trick (Image: Iris Bar)

When I was a student (in the late seventies) I had an odd job assembling wardrobes and kitchen cabinets in the customers’ homes. The cabinets came from different producers, and I don’t remember any of their names, except for one. It was one of the largest furniture manufacturing companies at the time, called “Rim”. When I had a “Rim” cabinet to assemble, I had to take special care. The plywood panels were likely to be hollow, or the filler between the two sides might be crumbling. Sticking a nail into the board to put the back of the closet was a complicated gamble.

At about the same time the sales manager for this “Rim” was a guy named “Binyamin Netanyahu”. Looking at the biography of Israel’s longest serving prime minister, his (short) time at Rim is about the only time he spent in the “real” economy. A short search in the web implies that the company went bankrupt a few years later.

Now the same Netanyahu is the “Big Man” of Israeli politics, trying to pose as “a close friend” of the likes of Trump and Putin.

Even as I hate Netanyahu for all that Israel is doing to the Palestinians, I must say I find some joy to watch how he kicks the shit out of Israel’s self-serving elites. Nothing in his long career of black magic is more hilarious than the way he vanished Israel’s top Politician-General Gantz.

Just a few weeks ago, after the March 2nd Knesset elections, Netanyahu was facing a trial for multiple severe cases of corruption. Gantz had the recommendation of 61 of the new Knesset’s 120 members and was appointed to compose a new government.

The general, who started his political campaign by lively TV ads boasting how many Palestinians he slaughtered in Gaza in 2014, got cold legs from the thought that he might be Israel’s prime minister with the support of Arab Knesset members, and preferred to split his party and join Netanyahu instead. Now, after Gantz betrayed his supporters and comrades in arm and has no options left, Netanyahu is in no hurry to share with the general’s dwindling bunch the fruits of his reconquered power.

The Israeli army is considered to be one of the strongest in the world. But looking at what happens with Israel’s generals after they come out of this army raises big questions about the internal qualities of this mighty oppressive machine. Generals are supposed to be experts in tactics and strategy, preparing for the worst and building strong teams. Without the authority of military uniform general Gantz finds it hard to put two sentences together, not to say a plan for the next day.

I once met a wise Yugoslav communist who insisted that Israel doesn’t have any army at all. “Armed man that run after kids to arrest them are no soldiers, I can only call them police”, he used to say.

Another example of the same fall from a military height to civil uselessness is general Ehud Barak. While in the Army he was regarded (mostly by himself) as the wisest and most sophisticated Israeli soldier ever. The top of his military career was to dress as a woman in order to carry assassinations against Palestinian intellectuals in Beirut.

In his short period as Israel’s prime minister (1999-2001) he succeeded to destroy the Oslo (fake) “peace process”, to provoke the eruption of the second intifada and to cause Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to prefer letting the arch-war-criminal Sharon become prime minister rather than voting for him again. In the last series of 3 consecutive Knesset elections he was instrumental in destroying both the labor party (which he once led) and the pseudo left-Zionist Meretz.

Just like selling Rim’s flawed cupboards, Netanyahu may continue marketing for a while Israel’s flawed and completely evil Apartheid regime. But the product itself is hollow from within and crumbling. And Israel’s occupation institutions, its army, police, courts, Knesset, media – they are all part of this same dirty game. They are unable to produce any alternative. Apartheid can’t be reformed – it must fall!

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