BLOG 245 March 23, 2015
Twenty-four hours after winning the election in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu threw the world a curve ball. Bibi snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. A dear friend of mine always says, “All politicians are liars and thieves.” Netanyahu certainly didn’t help that image.
Many thoughtful Jewish people are dismayed and angry at how this election was won. About to lose, he played the racist card. Netanyahu screamed that the Arabs are coming to the polls “in droves” and the Jews better pull together and vote. Of course, Arab citizens have a right to vote. Such a tactic came straight out of the Jim Crow days in the Deep South. Arabs, Jews, and the White House rebuked such a tactic.
Worst of all, Netanyahu denied his support for a two-state solution and suggested the Palestinians could lump it. Certainly, there are many Jews in Israel who feel this way but the rest of the world disagrees. Netanyahu’s statements further alienated Europe that has also become a rocky road for Israel. The United States responded that they would no longer protect Israel in the United Nations debates on the Palestinians. Twenty-four hours later Netanyahu withdrew those positions after the election was over.
How bad can it get?
In his last minute attempt to win, Bibi has demonstrated it can get worse. Regardless of 47 congressional signatures on a letter to Iran, he has seriously damaged his currently shaky personal relationship with the United States. The strong Jewish voice and the right-wing unequivocal support of Israel as well as the pressure of the USA’s need of an important Middle East ally will definitely not end the diplomatic, military, and security connection with Israel. However, the Prime Minister’s office may soon discover the line is busy when he attempts to call the United States.
Netanyahu’s trip to speak to Congress put the Obama administration on the defense. Netanyahu’s twenty-four hour flip-flop amazingly switched the chairs. Obama has come out on top because of Netanyahu’s own maneuvers. While the Prime Minister was making gains in his opposition to a treaty with Iran, he has now spent most of the capital. It appears the West will close a deal with Iran whether Bibi likes it or not.
As damaging as the foregoing is, what Netanyahu has done to his own image is no small matter. No longer does he appear to be a statesman sounding a trumpet of alarm. He has come off as a predictable politician that will say anything to win. At this point, he may even have trouble forming a government as local politicians back away, forcing him to develop a cabinet from religious and nationalistic groups. Such a result would further deepen the racist charge against his government. Moshe Kahlon, the other big winner in the election, may be pulled into the new cabinet. However, Kahlon and Netanyahu dislike each other and that tension could bring down a new government quickly.
With ISIS functioning around 20 miles from the Israeli border, the issues are super serious. Netanyahu’s next moves may be the most important in his political life with dramatic effects on the future. He’d best think carefully and be cautious in what he says this time.
Is winning at all cost worth it? History answers no.