Legacy breaker

‘Your debacle has eclipsed mine’: Golda’s ghost haunts PM in satire skit

‘Eretz Nehederet’ depicts ex-PM, seen as responsible for Yom Kippur War, thanking Netanyahu for replacing her as premier most associated with worst intel failure in Israeli history

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

An 'Eretz Nehederet' skit on November 21, 2023, with Mariano Idelman as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Yuval Semo as former prime minister Golda Meir (Courtesy)
An 'Eretz Nehederet' skit on November 21, 2023, with Mariano Idelman as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Yuval Semo as former prime minister Golda Meir (Courtesy)

Israeli satirical show “Eretz Nehederet” brought the ghost of Golda Meir to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, as the former premier thanked the current one for the intelligence debacles that took place under his watch before October 7, which she declares have allowed her haters to forget similar failures that unfolded while she was at the helm before the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Meir — played by Yuval Semo — surprises Netanyahu — portrayed as usual by Mariano Idelman — by lighting one of his quintessential cigars, dressed in one of the button-down black shirts he’s taken to wearing since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. She uses the same lighter for her own cigarette, which she was known to puff throughout cabinet meetings.

A stunned Netanyahu asks the long-deceased Meir how she managed to turn up in his office.

“It wasn’t easy to find you. How many houses do you live in?” Meir responds, alluding to the prime minister’s recent temporary wartime move to an American supporter’s Jerusalem home, which reportedly has a bunker in the basement.

“I managed to run an entire country from my kitchenette,” she adds.

Netanyahu tells her that he never goes into his kitchen, as he has a private chef. He then presses Meir to explain what she’s doing in his office.

Meir tells Netanyahu she returned to thank him “from the bottom of my heart.”

“Finally, someone appreciates me,” says Netanyahu.

“No, mamaleh,” a patronizing Meir responds. “Finally, after 50 years, my failures aren’t the biggest in history.”

For the past half a century, Meir says she carried with her the burden of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, considered Israel’s biggest national security failure, which saw Israel caught off guard by Egyptian troops surging across the Suez Canal and Syrian soldiers breaking through the Golan Heights.

It was also the war with the highest casualty count, with 2,656 Israeli soldiers killed.

This war against Hamas started in October as well, she points out, just like the Yom Kippur War 50 years earlier.

“I’ll get out of this,” declares a flustered Netanyahu, “although the numbers are bad.”

Golda, thinking he’s referring to the 1,200 people killed by Hamas-led terrorists in southern Israel on October 7, comments that the Yom Kippur War also had a high casualty count.

“I meant the polls,” says Netanyahu, “but it’s not the end.”

A recent Channel 12 wartime survey found Netanyahu’s coalition would fall to 45 Knesset seats while the opposition bloc would soar to 70 if elections were held today.

He tells Meir he’ll blame the army or the intelligence.

“Been there, tried that,” says Meir, who resigned after the 1973 war, although she was cleared of direct responsibility for the intelligence failures.

“I’ll blame the protesters,” says Netanyahu, referring to demonstrations against his now-stalled divisive judicial overhaul legislation.

She recommends that he find something else for which to be remembered — perhaps a good quote.

“Ah yes,” says Netanyahu, “The left forgot what it means to be Jewish.”

“No,” says Meir. “Something that a leader of Israel would say, “Like I told Joe Biden, ‘Our secret weapon is that we have nowhere else to go.'”

That line of Meir’s is one quoted by Biden in nearly every speech he gives to a pro-Israel audience.

“I also have nowhere else to go,” says Netanyahu.

Meir shakes her head, trying to assuage his feelings.

“Don’t worry. Wait 50 years, maybe they’ll forget,” she says. “Maybe there will be a movie about you, or an ice cream parlor named after you,” she muses, referring to the 2023 film “Golda” starring Helen Mirren and Israel’s chain of Golda ice cream shops.

“MalaBibi!,” she suggests, a play on malabi pudding and Netanyahu’s nickname. “50 branches. Now that’s a legacy.”

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