Smotrich. An intense longing for the ‘eighties is the only logical explanation for the maniacal comments he delivered at the beginning of his party’s meeting yesterday. Photo: Channel 13/Reshet

Smotrich’s cuckoo plan to invade Lebanon

Israel’s policy is currently being dragged along by government ministers like Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who openly promoting their outlandish plans big time. ■ So, one of the few things that hasn’t changed since the magical ’80s is Smotrich himself, who now as then remains an irresponsible, care-free babe-in-arms — only then he then he was safely ensconced in primary school, while now he is a government minister in charge of the state budget and people’s lives.

The Palestine Project
3 min readMay 20, 2024

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By Yoana Gonen • Translated by Sol Salbe

Bezalel Smotrich misses the ‘eighties, a really top-notch time, when we listened to Cyndi Lauper on a Walkman, wore shoulder pads and leggings, gays remained in the closet, inflation reached dizzying highs. It was a time when the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military rule and young soldiers were sent to die defending a handful of isolated settlements in Gush Katif, with those who managed to survive there being sent to be killed in the security zone quagmire in southern Lebanon.

An intense longing to that decade is the only logical explanation for the maniacal comments the Israeli Treasurer [finance minister in the local parlance] delivered at the start of his party’s meeting yesterday, in which he demanded that the prime minister “issue a public ultimatum to Hezbollah,” and if that organisation does not comply, launch a war “deep inside Lebanese territory, including a ground incursion and an Israeli military takeover of southern Lebanon.” As the poet wrote: Oh Security Zone, we have returned to you again.

So, one of the few things that hasn’t changed since the magical ’80s is Smotrich himself, who now as then remains an irresponsible, care-free babe-in-arms — only then he then he was safely ensconced in primary school, while now he is a government minister in charge of the state budget and people’s lives. People whom he does not hesitate to send to their deaths in order to fulfill his messianic fantasies about Greater Israel — from ethnically purified Judaised Gaza to the outskirts of Beirut. “What’s the next step, the occupation of Iraq and Yemen?” asked a senior security source who, despite their security credentials and seniority, was probably too scared to identify themselves by name.

Strangely enough, the studio commentators’ reactions to Smotrich’s remarks concentrated on t the technical impracticality of his plan, not the fact that it was — to use the professional terminology — Cuckoo on several levels. For example, Oded Ben-Ami wondered: “Who will do that, by the way, the Yeshiva students who don’t enlist? The soldiers the whom the IDF lacks? The reservists who still haven’t gotten what they deserve for their war service?” Important questions no doubt, and yet — just as in the [true] story of the lecturer who asked his students to design a pipeline to transport blood to Eilat and failed them because they did not ask why such a pipe was needed, the media also fails to carry out its duty when it sinks into discussions of the logistics instead of dealing with the essence. As if there would have been enough soldiers for the task, reconquering Gaza and southern Lebanon would have been a perfectly reasonable and effectual proposition.

Israel’s policy is currently being dragged along by people like Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, who openly promoting their outlandish plans big time. They face military personnel who are too afraid to speak up for themselves and journalists who focus on prattling and are scared to sound insufficiently patriotic. On second thought, this disturbing balance of power also makes me somewhat longing for the ’80s, a time when Kahanists were ostracised by the Left and Right, instead of sitting in government and being welcome guests in the studios. From this perspective, even the shoulder pads look a little less horrifying.

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