Netanyahu, King Salman and the Devil’s Valentine
Two champagne glasses clink in a prism of light.
Netanyahu: I’ve heard you had a mansion made entirely out of gold but I never thought I’d ever get invited to it – and on Valentine’s day, no less – wow – I mean look at this place – unbelievable! A sea of red roses, a thousand lit candles, the Mariachi band in the corner, the kosher champagne – and just look at this mountain of kifelta fish – look at this mountain of Ben and Jerry’s pistachio-vanilla! How on earth did you know it’s my favorite?!
Salman: I googled it.
With a twinkle in his eye, Salman places a small Israeli flag on top of the ice cream mount.
Salman: You know, I had everything on this table imported from your favorite settlements.
Netanyahu: My god now you’re making me blush.
Salman: Well I really value my friends – they understand me, if you know what I mean.
Netanyahu: Sure, just look at you and me.
Salman: Good old friends, yes. You know, friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing. Elie Wiesel said that.
Netanyahu: I know, I know! I can’t believe you’re quoting Elie! You must really–
Salman: Love you? Yes, Bibi, I really do.
Both men grin from ear to ear and clink glasses again.
Netanyahu: To hell with our enemies!
Salman: Off with their heads!
Netanyahu: They deserve even worse than that!
Salman: Allah be my witness, I’m trying – I’m trying to crash hell itself on their heads, but… I need your help, my friend.
Netanyahu: You just name it, your majesty.
Salman: I need you to attack the presidential palace in Damascus.
Netanyahu: But I was going to ask you to do the same thing.
Both men look surprised at each other. An awkward moment passes.
Salman: If we don’t do something extreme, we’ll lose Syria.
Netanyahu: And if we lose Syria, Iran wins everything.
Salman: You know, to be honest with you, we’re much better at paying for a strike than we are at launching one and your air force is considered to be the most supreme in the region. That’s why I vote for your military to attack Damascus. It makes sense. We need to do something big and do it fast to distract Bashar’s men away from Raqaa and the Golan.
Netanyahu: Well, I think.. I… I think–
Salman: I see it in your eyes: you want to attack but you’re worried about Putin.
Netanyahu: The chosen leader of the chosen people fears nobody!
Salman: That’s what I thought. So you will do it then?
Netanyahu: I will do it if you do something for me first.
Salman: My wealth can block out the sun – I can do anything, anything you want.
Netanyahu: I want another 9/11 in New York.
Salman: Oh! Is that all? Done!
Netanyahu: You really mean it?
Salman: Yes. But… It comes with strings–
Netanyahu: A string here, a string there – I’m telling you for another 9/11 I’ll even give the wife away!
Salman: Too… ehm, Rubinesque for my taste. I was actually thinking of something much, much smaller in return.
The men lock eyes, each trying to read the others mind.
Salman: Yes, what I want is very, very small – fits the tip of my index finger. Snugly. Beautifully.
Netanyahu: Em, do I understand you right? Do you mean–
Salman: It comes in red. Valentine red.
Netanyahu: Not the little red–
Salman: Button. Oh yes. The little red button.
Netanyahu: But Salman, you’ve put me in an impossible position – I thought we’re friends.
Salman: Yes. The best of ambitious friends.
Netanyahu: Well it’s a very complex request and I’ll have to–
Salman: Look, it’s very simple. You carpet-bomb Bashar’s presidential palace, you destabilize Syria again and I’ll give you another 9/11 in New York. But, for me to be able to do this, you will have to also give me a little red button with all the appendage that comes with it. This way, it’s a completely balanced deal. We both gain from hitting at Syria – you get your 9/11 and I get my nuke. It’s what I call a balanced win-win deal.
Netanyahu: But I’m doing a strike and a smuggle and you’re only doing one 9/11.
Salman: You said you’d even give your wife away for another 9/11. Maybe you didn’t mean it? Maybe you’re not as ambitious as I am? Or, as fearless–
Netanyahu: No, I really meant it, about the wife – it’s just that some people, even good friends of mine would call this plan crazy and–
Salman: People will call us mad but who cares what people say when you’re glowing with victory.
Netanyahu: Oh believe me, I know exactly what you mean, but–
Salman: Did you know that right now, right this second on Valentine’s day, a Palestinian delegation is sitting all lovey-dovey in Tehran and celebrating the anniversary of the Iranian Islamic revolution with a bunch of ugly antisemitic-holocaust-denying-terrorist-Mullahs who want to wipe Israel off the map?
Netanyahu: Of course I do! I know every piss and shit that every Palestinian takes!
Salman: So then you know that they’ve had high-level meetings with Iranian officials on the side – meetings not on the official schedule, right?
Netanyahu: Yes I know – fuck ’em! My Iranian agents tell me that they discussed two topics: how to enhance and spread the Knife Intifada, and how to bring about Palestinian political unity. They’re putting serious money into it.
Salman: And you will just let them conspire against the Jewish people? You will let them do this to you year after year after year? Frankly, I don’t know why you waste time waiting to punish them both for once and for all. You should know that two days ago I issued a decree banning all Palestinians from the next Haj – I justified it by saying that they’re stateless and may sneak in under pretense: aiming to settle there, perhaps even aiming to invade my kingdom.
Netanyahu: Banning them is mild punishment, if you ask me. Besides, you’re not doing anything the Europeans aren’t already doing to war refugees.
Salman: But you too need to punish them before this conspiracy gets out of hand. The Iranians – look what they achieved when they put money behind Hezbollah. Do you want Hamas and Islamic Jihad to start calling themselves Hezbol-Iran inside territory under your control? Of course not! You must not wait another second, Bibi. You must punish Iran by burning Syria. Punish Iran, above all, by giving me that little red button. You gave a few red buttons to South Africa back in the day, why not to Saudi Arabia now?
Netanyahu’s eyes shift calculating.
Salman: Look at it this way: if you give me the little red button, then you punish the Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese and the Palestinians the hardest. It’ll be like a giant silver bullet shot at the heart of Axis of Resistance. Think about it – that’s five big birds with one single stone.
Netanyahu: Yes, that’s very tempting but–
Salman: You don’t have much time to act, Bibi – the Iran Axis has already put a strategic noose around your neck. Just think of what another 9/11 pinned on the Shias will do for you and your grand projects. I’m offering you a better security deal here than the Americans can. I’m giving you the opportunity to fight your enemies with absolute freedom and according to your own timing and method. I’m giving you and the Jewish state the ultimate Valentine’s gift.
Netanyahu: The Americans… the Russians – I mean if we do this deal together, it will definitely create total foreign policy havoc for them – very dangerous.
Salman: So what?! Let them work it out for themselves! We don’t owe either of them anything! They threw us both under the bus – we’re not doing anything to them that they haven’t already done to us!
Hearing this, Netanyahu lowers his head and shakes it in anger and dismay.
Salman: Bibi, just look me straight in the eye will you?
Netanyahu obliges. Salman takes Netanyahu’s hand, holds it warmly and sighs. His other hand snaps fingers and the Mariachi band immediately switches to playing a faster tempo.
Salman: Bibi, my friend, I can see there’s a traffic jam in your mind and that makes me a bad host. I apologize and now I must insist you relax and let your hair down – it’s Valentine’s, right? Forget our discussion for now – I know you’re not afraid to do what’s right for your country at the end of the day. Come on let’s have some fun – I’ll help you loosen up – you know what they say: if you free your ass, then your mind will follow.
Netanyahu: No, I think the saying goes: if you free your mind, your ass will follow.
Salman: Whatever! Let’s go dance like our enemies are already buried under the dance floor. Come on, I’ll teach you some killer moves!
Salman pulls a reluctant Netanyahu out of his seat and drags him off to the empty dance floor.