More than words: why it matters Netanyahu and Bennett met in English

Not much has been revealed about the potentially fateful three-hour meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yamina’s boss Naftali Bennett at the prime minister’s residence last Thursday.

Spokesmen for Netanyahu and Bennett have gone to great lengths not to reveal details in an effort to build trust among their bosses.

A statement issued by the leader of the Zionist Religious Party Bezalel Smotrich after a previous meeting with Netanyahu that the Prime Minister’s Office called inaccurate and manipulative gave even more reasons to keep the press and the public in the dark about the Netanyahu meeting. Bennett.

But a small detail of the meeting that was revealed exclusively to The Jerusalem Post Saturday night speaks louder than words: it was conducted in English.

There were those who downplayed the importance of the meeting taking place in a language in which both Netanyahu and Bennett are comfortable. They both spent a large part of their life in the United States, and Bennett was raised by American parents in Israel, speaking English at home. .

Netanyahu spoke English to Bennett when Bennett was his chief of staff, as he has done to many native English-speaking advisers over the years. He has even held staff meetings in English and his advisers have requested that the security information be released to the prime minister in English.

However, the tweet about the fateful meeting being held in English spread like wildfire on social media. Twitter reported nearly 200,000 impressions of the tweet in half a day, even though it was posted at 10:25 pm in Israel, on Shabbat in the US, which is far from prime time. Most of the responses to the English tweet were in Hebrew.

So why did it matter so much that the meeting was conducted in English?

There was a difference between Netanyahu talking to his advisers and having coalition talks with the head of another political party, said Nadav Eyal, a commentator for Channel 13 and Yediot Aharonot, author of Revolt: The Worldwide Uprising Against Globalization. Netanyahu and Bennett should have followed in the footsteps of Israel’s founding fathers, who knew many languages ​​but insisted on running the country in Hebrew, he said.

“It is in bad taste to have a conversation about forming an Israeli government in a foreign language,” Eyal said. “There is a meaning in the art of government: you love Hebrew and you do your business in Hebrew. They should have emphasized speaking Hebrew. “

Some on Twitter angrily recalled that it was the Netanyahu government that passed the Nation-State Law, which formally declared Hebrew as the only official language of the state of Israel.

While the British-born Eyal called Netanyahu and Bennett’s decision to speak English “provincial,” others on Twitter accused them of snobbery and posing, suggesting it was proof that they were disconnected from the non-English speaking masses. in their constituencies. .

“Sounds like an Alpha contest,” wrote Sara K. Eisen, a brand and communications manager who was once a top official at the Jewish Agency.

Then there were those on Twitter who praised them for being able to conduct high-level conversations in English and said it fit with Netanyahu’s campaign slogan from last year’s election that he was in “another league.”

With Netanyahu’s prime ministerial post and his career in jeopardy as his tenure to form a government progresses, it is his worldliness that the Israelis will sooner or later seek to replace. Polls conducted by Likud during the elections say that Israelis like to have a leader that the world listens to and who can call the Pfizer director at 3 a.m. M.

That is why it is not surprising that Likudniks who speak perfect English, such as MK Nir Barkat and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, are doing well in polls among party members on who should succeed Netanyahu.

The leak that the conversation was in English also helps Bennett sound like prime ministerial material to his skeptics, as his chance to form a government may be approaching.

For those who want Netanyahu to remain in office, the leak about the meeting’s language gives cause for optimism. If repairing your relationship with Bennett is essential for him to form a government, hearing that they have their own way of communicating can be a sign of hope.

On the other hand, it could be the opposite. For two men who truly despise each other, perhaps it takes the language of Shakespeare to sit together as they plan how to stab the other in the back.

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