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The Kingpin, the Capo, and the Con Artist

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

By Dr. Alon Ben-Meir

This is a work of satire.

[In Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's office, the Israeli leader and two of his right wing cohorts, Avigdor "Yvet" Lieberman and Naftali Bennett, plan a new coalition government]

Bibi: Hi guys, we’ve got to wrap up our plans, you know what the polls are saying.

Yvet: What the hell do I care what the Poles think?

Bibi: No you idiot, the polls, the polls that just came out!

Yvet: Ah, but you’re still neck and neck with Buji.

Bibi: So? Even if I am not ahead, you know I can take it away from him.

Yvet: How are you going to do that?

Bibi: I have already talked to Arye, Yaakov, and Eli.

Naftali and Yvet: So what did they want?

Bibi: [aside] Clowns…

Yvet: That’s an odd request.

Bibi: No you nuts, you are the clowns! They want the usual—money. What else?

Yvet: Look, I am just trying to understand. But what about the draft law?

Bibi: Listen, you leave it to me. Give them enough money, that’s what it takes. You of all people should know what money can buy.

Yvet: I really don’t give a damn about what they want.

Bibi: I know, but you will go with whoever pays you a higher price. So, what’s your price?

Yvet: I told you, I deserve the Defense Ministry.

Bibi: You are joking. Defense? You probably won’t get more than six seats, so that’s not possible. How about the Interior?

Yvet: What?! Do I look like a two dollar hooker?

Bibi: Well, that has already has been established.

Naftali: Hey guys, what the hell are you talking about? Look at the polls—Defense is mine.

Bibi: We are not distributing candy here.

Yvet: Oh yeah, I forgot, I guess you have to consult with Sara first.

Bibi: Not at all, she already told me what to do.

Naftali: Well of course. Yvet, don’t bother, I have firsthand experience with them...it’s no use.

Bibi: I don’t appreciate that, especially from you Naftali, you con artist—leave her out of the picture.

Yvet: No disrespect intended, if she was here we could settle—

Bibi: Listen, as a hero of mine once said: ‘we are both part of the same hypocrisy, but never think it applies to my family.’

Naftali: Yeah, but there is always an exception.

Yvet: So what happens if Buji wins two or three seats more?

Naftali: Bibi is right, we should focus on how to bribe—I mean, how to persuade Kahlon to join us.

Yvet: Are you saying he holds the balance? What about me, are you taking me for granted?

Bibi: Look, it is simple math: between my party, Naftali’s here, Shas, United Torah, and Yahad, we will have at least 54 seats. With Moshe, we will have more than 60 seats. Do you understand now, Yvet? It’s basic math.

Yvet: You have figured it all out, haven’t you, boy, you have no scruples, you’ll do anything to…

Bibi: Look who is talking, I can sleep comfortably. This is politics, winning is what matters.

Yvet: You do whatever it takes, like I said, no scruples and no conscience.

Bibi: Conscience? You must be living on a different planet.

Yvet: You know Bibi, you remind me of the guy who wrote a letter to the Treasury, saying that he hasn’t been able to sleep because he cheated on his income tax. He enclosed a check for 100 shekels, saying that if he still can’t sleep he’ll send the rest. You sleep soundly Bibi—you cheat, you lie, nothing bothers you.

Bibi: I served for nine years as prime minster, haven’t I? Call me what you want, I know how to fix things, that’s what counts.

Yvet: This is just nonsense, we all know what it takes.

Bibi: I am sure you do, after all those charges against you…

Naftali: Listen, I will lead the second-largest party in the coalition. Who is talking about what’s moral and all that baloney? I know what I want, and without me, Bibi, you won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell to form the new government.

Bibi: Hey, hey, let’s call a spade a spade. I am going to be the next Prime Minister, you want to be the Defense Minister, we all care about our personal power.

Yvet: We know that only too well Bibi. Remember though, Buji is also talking to Kahlon, promising him the world, so what are you going to offer him?

Bibi: This is my point, you won’t let me finish. If I don’t promise him something big—say, Finance or Foreign Ministry—he won’t join.

Naftali: What the hell does he know about finance or foreign affairs? I know how to make lots of money and I know plenty about American foreign policy.

Bibi: Are you saying you want to be the foreign minister?

Naftali: Well… maybe if you are hung up about appointing some general or want to keep Ya’alon in the Defense…

Bibi: Listen Naftali, we keep talking to the public about defense. Defense, Iran, security—I can’t appoint someone like you only because you fought in Lebanon.

Naftali: But you forget, I served in Maglan—the elite fighting unit—what do generals know that I don’t? I can tell them about the mistakes they made in Lebanon.

Yvet: Maybe we should have two alternate Defense Ministers, each serving two years, how about that?

Bibi: You’re being ridiculous.

Yvet: Well, this seems to be fashionable nowadays.

Bibi: Stop all this BS, let’s finish this.

Yvet: Yeah, let’s finish it. Let me be clear Bibi, I am not in your pocket and you can’t count on Kahlon either. If you want me to join, you need to make me an offer I can’t refuse.

Bibi: Yeah, my sentiments exactly. Then let’s not spoil this, all I can tell you is that you will be happy if you commit yourself now.

Yvet: It is my duty to do my best for my country.

Naftali: Don’t make me laugh. You, like everybody else, thinks that what’s good for them is good for the country.

Yvet: And you think you are an exception?

Naftali: Look, I am a religious man…

Yvet: Sure you are. You make money religiously, cheat religiously, and screw the Palestinians religiously—yeah, you are a very religious man.

Bibi: Both of you are talking nonsense—religion, ideology, democracy—who gives a damn? As I told you, all we have to do is talk about security, security, and more national security.

Naftali: That is what I am saying. If I am the Defense Minister, I can annex all of Area C in the name of national security. Get my drift?

Bibi: Yeah, we got your drift, but we have to deal with this intellectual, Professor Obama. This is why I went to Washington, all in the name of Israel’s security. Everybody bought into my shtick and on top of it, I may well be ahead of Buji.

Naftali: I guess that’s why they call you the kingpin. Now we have to put the Americans in their place, so they stop bothering us.

Yvet: You must be joking. As long as Obama is there, you won’t be able to do much.

Bibi: Obama Shmobama. Once I form the next government, all we have to do is wait him out. He will soon leave and we can do whatever we want with a Republican president. Don’t worry, I know how to help elect the next President. Are we in agreement?

Yvet: I don’t know about all that. You changed your mind about a two-state solution, about all these concessions you promised—hey, I am glad you did, but why should I believe you now?

Bibi: You don’t have to believe me. Remember you are not riding so high, but we are still friends and friends do well for one another.

Yvet: Oh, now I am your friend, nice. We’ll see what happens tomorrow after you go home.

Bibi: A capo is a capo, unless you don’t get what you want…

Naftali: I am with you Bibi all the way. Remember, defense or foreign ministry. If Sara is in agreement, what’s your problem?

Yvet: Yeah, that’s what it comes down to.

Bibi: Enough of this rubbish. Make sure we know everything that’s going on. Remember, this SOB traitor, Kahlon, unfortunately, is the key—we have to make him happy.

Naftali: You’re right.

Bibi: Let’s shake hands and give Buji, Tzipi, Lapid, Zehava, and this Arab guy what they deserve—to relax in the opposition with plenty of time to pray.

*****

*****

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

[Photo courtesy of Vos Iz Neias]

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