Now It’s Netanyahu’s Turn

Now It’s Netanyahu’s Turn

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

More and more the political crisis in Israel is resembling the one in the United States. Some days Netanyahu runs ahead of Trump chasing political tails and other times the President is ahead of the Prime Minister.  Both are democratically elected leaders of vibrant democracies who are degrading the character of the political system in their respective countries. Both men could get re-elected or indicted (impeached) and both men view each other as friends; or so they pretend.

There are, however, major differences.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is far more intelligent and a much smarter politician. He has years of experience and has served in the political world virtually his entire life. If he were to fall, he most likely would be replaced, not by the opposition leaders but by alternatives from within his own party or governing coalition. Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing possible indictments because of hubris, avarice, greed, and arrogance; but not because he is an unprepared and incompetent political leader.

Israel does face a looming confrontation with Iran both in Syria and from missiles in Teheran; but Netanyahu has the best military machine in the region. The Russians who are the major weapons suppliers to Israel’s foes in the region, are unlikely to join any confrontation between Israel and Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran.  This is not to minimize the damage which a war or set of skirmishes could inflict on Israel.

Bibi will be in Washington in a few weeks to address the annual AIPAC Policy Conference. He will rally those in attendance by waving the flag of danger before the audience and presenting his analysis that Israel has never had a stronger ally and supporter in the White House than Donald Trump.

Like the American President, Netanyahu does not listen to alternative ideas or policy recommendations. Bibi recognizes that even within the American Jewish community there are Zionists and strong supporters of Israel who do not support him.  These people recognize the geo-political crisis; but they reject Netanyahu’s leadership. They no longer accept the notion that they must support whatever Israel does and whomever Israel views as their friends. They do not question Israel’s absolute right to make its own political and security decisions. They argue, however, that Israel is not the weak “kid” on the bloc but rather is a virtual powerhouse.

Israel’s right as a sovereign state to make independent decisions is never questioned, but its persistent disregard of the views of Diaspora Jewry is unacceptable. Israel’s leader does not speak for all Jews. Netanyahu is Prime Minister of the State of Israel and not King of all of world Jewry. If Netanyahu does not respect alternative views of non-Israelis and those in the Diaspora who differ from his Government’s views, then he could risk further alienating support among Jews and many non-Jewish supporters.

Like the President, Netanyahu does not listen to the other side nor does he even respect the other side. As a result, Netanyahu will intensify his problems with American Jews as Trump continues to do the same with so many Americans. When they meet on March 5, during Bibi’s U.S. trip, it will appear to be a love affair and so he will elaborate at the AIPAC Conference.  What Netanyahu never learned from his time engaging President Obama, however, was that true lovers have fights and real friends do not always agree with everything.

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