Netanyahu Lashes Out at Critics

YERUSHALAYIM -

“Leading figures in the media and on the left have come to realize that they cannot persuade the Jewish people of their rightness and defeat us at the polls. So what do they do? Instead of arguing over issues, they launch a campaign of personal villification, against me and my family,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as he lashed out at his critics.

“They have chosen this strategy because the people have seen through the illusions of the left,” he began.

“After the extraordinary concessions made by Israel at Oslo, they got a wave of terror, of suicide bus bombings during the mid-1990s. The ‘dawn of a new day’ and the reckless concessions by Ehud Barak to Arafat at Camp David exploded in the reality of the Second Intifada, which took the lives of 1,100 Israelis,” Netanyahu said.

“The precipitous withdrawal from Lebanon did not bring peace with our neighbors to the north; rather it helped to strengthen Hezbollah, which exacted a heavy price from Israel in the Second Lebanon War and assembled the biggest arsenal of missiles in the world on its territory.

“The height of it, obviously, was the evacuation from Gaza. I argued [at the time] that it would lead to control of the territory by Hamas and to rockets being launched against Ashdod, Beersheva and beyond. The media called me a ‘prophet of doom,’ and the ‘national fearmonger.’

“The self-styled experts of the Israeli media predicted that Gaza would become the Singapore of the Middle East and on the ruins of Gush Katif would rise peaceful summer camps, models of Arab-Jewish coexistence.

“They claimed that, at the very least, leaving Gaza would earn us international legitimacy and a free hand in Gaza. They told this to the authors of the Goldstone report.

“The shattering of their illusions on the hard rock of reality forced them to abandon a discussion of the issues and turn toward personal attacks against me, because in their view I am the impediment to their return to power.

“It is amusing to see their reaction when I answer their accusations. Freedom of speech is a paramount value to them — as long as it serves their purpose. One has only to look at the panels in the media to see that they do not exactly represent the public, whose majority has chosen the Likud and the right. The million Likud voters don’t rate even a symbolic representation in the daily news broadcasts.

“Through daily brainwashing and character assassination, they seek to distract the attention of the public from the political struggle in Israel. Thus they hope to regain control of the government.

“But all this will not avail them. I suggest to my friends in the media that they try to make their case by way of an honorable debate of the issues. And let the public decide — at the polls.

“We have just seen in the recent U.S. elections how personal smears in the media have failed to win over the people,” Netanyahu concluded.