“Bibi” is boasting, bragging, even if he isn’t officially the next Prime Minister of Israel and controls far less than a quarter of his own Knesset (legislature). Yet on the eve of a massive defeat, as poll showed him nearly certain to lose, he performed hard for the conservatives on the extreme right, promised no Palestinian state, warned of his opponents forming a coalition with Arabs, and even pulled out the full blown race baiting of “Arabs flocking to the polls” to scare the right-wing-nuts into abandoning their own far-right parties to vote Likud. The end result is a right-wing that is no stronger but more to the scary right-wing that has continued to isolate Israel from the rest of the world. Netanyahu is no Winston Churchill warning of a Nazi threat in Iran, he is more a George W. Bush warning of an “Axis of Evil” that doesn’t exist, or even a Hugo Chavez, a self-absorbed idiot standing before the UN to deliver a speech about sulphur and evil (Netanyahu held up a picture of a cartoon bomb at the same podium) who would fool his own country-folk of a vast conspiracy that exists only his mind, while robbing his own people of their living wages and their traditional egalitarian vision of Israel.
The typical billionaire-owned media painted Netanyahu’s win as a triumph of a nearly defeated man. They dared not dwell on the facts of the case. Netanyahu was a loser who got so desperate, that he sold his soul to win an election. He promised no Palestinian state would happen on his watch the day before the election, warned of Arabs (20% of the Israeli population) bussing in people to vote, than walked it back after he won. As any tyrant living in a democratic state would. The White House is unimpressed and the real penalty of Israel re-electing this opportunistic idiot who spends more on alcohol in a month than the average monthly Israeli salary and 2.3 Million sheqalim (twice the allocated budget) on his own furnishings, is now on full display. Now that it’s gotten out that Israel has been spying on the US, any truth he could squeeze from Obama’s obviously bitter reaction to his reelection is now lost.
As I always say, it takes a generation to see a good leader’s true effect, only a few years to see a truly bad one. Netanyahu has been in and out of power since 2000.
The Real Losers
This is a huge loss for the state Israel, both on the world stage and abroad. Obama is threatening to go to the UN at this point, where the US has traditionally protected Israel from it’s near Apartheid treatment of its Arab 2nd Class citizens. If you have ever seen the show Arab Labor, a comedy, you will see how far down the rungs of society they are, even with their prejudices and hatred in tact. Seinfeld it is not, but it is funny and demonstrates the hypocrisy on both sides.
Though this isn’t an issue with parity. The Israelis are the most advanced democracy in the Middle-East and nearly one of the only ones. They allow Arabs to vote, even if their Prime Minister uses race baiting to marginalize them, or build giant walls that make going to work subject to Soviet style checkpoints or build settlements on land they hold as their homeland. They still allow the Arabs a place at the table. They unfortunately have to be the better person in this struggle. The cowardly Hamas terrorists do far more harm to their own people than even Israel ever could. However that is what we expect from small-minded goons. As Netanyahu has confirmed, killing said goons only seems to make more goons, so it is a complete failure of his administration on military actions in his own territory, and he wants to invade Iran? Or should I say, he wants the US to invade Iran? The Iraq War helped create the largest mobilized terrorist group the world has seen. What would an Iran War create? Especially in between the Islamic State and the Taliban?
No, Israel gains little by military action. As Ghandi and MLK have proven, peace is the path to peace. War is the path to war, unless you wear out your enemy or kill them all (ie: WWII, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War through the Yom Kippur War, for failures see: WWI, The Crusades, The Iraq War, the vast majority of wars, etc). The extremists in the Muslim world appear far stronger than they did before Netanyahu and George W. Bush brought their radical ideas to action. In 15 years, they are perhaps the overseers of the largest and most profound military failures since WWII.
Israel is better than occupation, bombing a city block to kill one terrorist and allowing a people to fester in squalor and resentment? They need to be the incubator for how this all plays out. If it fails here, we know it will never work, which I think is Netanyahu’s M.O. Perhaps, he wants to push the Palestinians to war so they can “get it over with”, or his own military experience has driven him to hate them so much he wants to drive them out in every direction. In any case, Israel must be the example of peace! Or, in time, with the birth rates of the Arab world, it will be overtaken without even a fight. If they lose the support of the US, which is happening faster than any Israeli could have guessed 10 years ago or even 5, bad times could come much sooner. If Israel becomes an example of everything it’s founding was supposed to be against, what do you expect will happen?
For Europe, it has become hard for them to distinguish between the Arabs and Israel. This is unfair, even with Netanyahu, though politics is perception and all the fancy words I say or the lame speeches “Bibi” gives will not change anyone’s mind. In the case of the later, he has been destructive to his own country’s cause. Scaring Israelis of busloads of Arabs will lead to the very thing he warns against. With their population growing, and the Jewish population not growing, it may very well be taken through democracy. The Arab Parties now are a significant block in the Knesset. All the more reason to be smarter now.
Is it any wonder that world leaders, even Netanyahu’s chief rival, Issac Herzog called on Netanyahu to apologize to the significant chunk of Arab Israeli citizens he is supposed to represent.
“Bibi” seems to care less about what happens after he is gone and has nearly timed the reaction of his own actions as the leader of Israel to nearly doom Israel after he is dead. Yet good leadership takes decades to see, bad leadership takes only a few years and through his 3 miserable terms as PM, he has bore no fruit, instead, hatred, war, violence, instability, political turmoil, a loss of support in the UN and now a loss of support in the US!
Netanyahu vs. The World
His own visit last month did little to sway American Jews, did little to sway Republicans and conservatives, yet caused a 14% shift downward among Democrats against him and his overall popularity among Americans plummeted to 38% overall. To put that into prospective, Obama is considerably more popular and even Chris Christie is one point higher though “Bibi”. No word yet on what his election “win” will do, even if he couldn’t fire a ballistic missile at a majority in his own country, where his own popularity is quite low, his perceived victory is a major insult to those that care about democracy and egalitarianism all the same.
After several anti-semitic attacks in Europe, Netanyahu called for Israelis to return to the homeland. What? He thinks he’s Moses now? The ego on this guy! Another election stunt that deeply offended European leaders, “sparking outrage” and give the anti-semites more ammunition. Much like how Guantanamo Bay was the best recruitment poster for anti-western terrorists, Israel under Netanyahu has become the rallying cry of the anti-semites. There will always be extremists with bad ideas and blame a race, color or creed for the problems of the world. If you play into their argument or engage them directly, you simply make them stronger. Israel can’t afford to offend the middle and left of Europe for it’s own sake, though if it cares for Jews living in Europe, Netanyahu should keep his big trap shut.
Israel is rapidly losing support in Europe, which isn’t smart as Israel’s economy is most heavily reliant on Europe. Though Canada has even reiterated their support for a Two-State Solution, a move that has put more pressure on the “Bibi” than ever to do what he has been acting against since he got into office and openly repudiated just before the election. It weakens his position severely and shows how few friends are left in Netanyahu’s corner.
That leaves Israel’s only true friend, the United States.
The lurch to the Right in Israel overall has been a disaster, just as it was in the US. It has isolated Israel from the rest of the world. Not only among the Middle-East but most of Europe. The US veto in the Security Council vote is the only thing that has kept a UN sanctioned military action from occurring in Israel. Obama has signaled, perhaps overly so, that these days may be coming to an end. This is talk of course, though elections have consequences and Israel reelected the best case against it’s own country and for the Palestinians. At some point, even rich American Jews like Sheldon Adelson will have no influence any longer. We are getting dangerously close to this point. So if Netanyahu wanted to isolate Israel, make them less popular in the world and even piss off most American Jews (as shown above), he succeeded. If that wasn’t his goal, he is a total failure as a leader. My guess is the later.
Not only that, but the land of the Kibbutz has become the land of the conservative 1%, distracting the people with “security” issues or anything else to keep them from seeing those that do the dividing, are the ones screaming racist, sexist and any slur all the way to the bank. When the issues are real, as it is in Israel (far more real than the US), this kind of propaganda distraction carries a far graver penalty. When you scare people for something as cheap as a vote, you don’t risk your own party losing support, let alone your own tawdry political career, you ruin the reputation of your country and your country’s belief in the government you represent. It is shameful and should be punishable by law. Netanyahu is the boy who cried wolf!
How do we know?
It has already gotten out that Netanyahu has been lying about the Iranian threat, and the source is Mossad (the Israeli intelligence services). “Bibi” even tried to keep US Senators including Republican Bob Corker from meeting with Mossad. When Corker protested, he capitulated and let the US Senators meet with the intelligence service. The meeting convinced even Bob Corker, staunch conservative from the South, that Republican intervention would destroy the only good chance of peace with Iran and play into the Neo-Conservative narrative by those like Bill Kristol, architect of the 47 Letter to Iran, who believe that war with Iran will be good for the US (unlike war with Iraq). Netanyahu supports war with Iran, at least between the US and Iran as it takes care of his enemy without him having to fire a shot. However, asking Americans to die for oil and Israeli security is not easy these days, and Netanyahu’s own cause has been dramatically weakened with his own election stunts, as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (headed by Corker) voted to suspend a vote that would penalize Iran for not coming to a deal till after they fail to come up with a deal (kind of makes sense, though try telling that to the extreme right-wing who enjoy being provocative). Netanyahu’s goal is to kill the talks with Iran and he utterly failed by his own unskilled hand.
Now it’s gotten out that Israel is spying on the US frequently, even topping the list of countries that spy on the United States, as cited by the Wall Street Journal (and that’s owned by Rupert Murdoch!). They further assert that they have been spying on the p5+1 Iranian Nuclear Talks, leaking selective information to Republicans, cut out of the loop, in order to evoke outrage. However the only outrage has come from the P5 (5 Powers) US, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain. Now I don’t hold a degree in international diplomacy or anything, though my guess is, those are probably the top 5 countries you probably don’t want to piss off.
Another brilliant move for the “Bibi”.
The fall out for this has yet to be written, as it is a late breaking story, though I can assure you, even Republicans angry at Obama’s reaction to Netanyahu’s victory will have to keep their mouth’s shut, for spying on America is something the nearly treasonous Republicans will not be able to justify to their brain-dead conservative base. Spying happens all the time, though it never plays well when you get your hand caught in the cookie jar. The first rule in spying is: DON’T GET CAUGHT!
This will continue to damage relations between the US and Israel and all those naysayers last week will be in an awkward position this week. That’s why Netanyah is denying it because the outcome of this will not be pretty.
Sheqalim & Arogot
Netanyahu’s economic policies have also been a disaster. While he parties it up in lavish digs, spending his taxpayer’s money on an endless flow of champagne and fine wines, the wages of the average Israeli do not improve and the level of poverty has gotten worse. The Economist called “Bibi” a “Bad Deal”, he has been called out for ignoring the economic crisis and while many of the pro-Capitalist outlets (which tend to be pro-1% agenda) have lavished praise on Bibi for making Israel a pro-business economy (which means pro-rich) Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Paul Krugman, has been the only one to really dive into the hard numbers. Here is an excerpt:
According to Luxembourg Income Study data, the share of Israel’s population living on less than half the country’s median income — a widely accepted definition of relative poverty — more than doubled, to 20.5 percent from 10.2 percent, between 1992 and 2010. The share of children in poverty almost quadrupled, to 27.4 percent from 7.8 percent. Both numbers are the worst in the advanced world, by a large margin.
That is why the Zionist Union did as well as it did in the election and was projected to win. Income inequality is out of control in Israel and it’s not only the Arabs that are far down the rungs of society these days. Though Netanyahu was able to cry wolf once again with overblown tales of a very real enemy. That is what makes the boogeyman defense so deplorable.
My Israeli friends say that it is the Jews from the Arab countries that bolster this fanaticism on the Right. If that is true, Netanyahu owes his success to the tyranny in the Arab countries, and not the well-educated Israelis who fought the brutal wars of the 50s, 60s and 70s, lived on the Kibbutz and fought for a free and egalitarian society. These immigrant Jews also tend to be the ones hit hardest by conservative economics. Much like in America, the poor are easily distracted by social and security issues that, in the end, are just a big distraction. It all seems so twisted in the end.
If you’ve ever looked into Netanyahu’s life, he is a man nearly blessed with luck. He is also an opportunist who is able to use these opportunities to his advantage. The problem is, the luck does eventually run out. While I would have loved to see his comeuppance arrive last week, he still has one last life left. Politically, he will eventually fall hard. I also believe that history will be unkind to the “Bibi” as we can now look back on what he’s achieved so far in a long political career. So far, he has very little to show for his time in office. The wars he has overseen are not something Israelis will brag about in the future, his train wrecking the Peace Process multiple times will not be looked at kindly and he has used those issues to distract from his disastrous socio-economic record. His key focus has been Israel’s diplomatic place in the world, yet Israel’s reputation has suffered tremendously under his tenure abroad with key allies.
That’s not the mark of a Winston Churchill, or even a Margaret Thatcher (she at least had the Falklands), more the mark of a failed politician who managed to hang on to power just long enough to be swept under the rug when they kicked him out the door.
Just like George W. Bush.