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Benjamin Netanyahu Won’t Be Israel’s Prime Minister Forever

Oct. 10 2017

The Israeli prime minister is currently the subject of multiple corruption investigations, some of which seem to be growing closer to threatening his tenure in office. But Netanyahu, the longest serving head of the government since David Ben-Gurion, has weathered many political crises, and may survive this one as well. Before speculating about what will follow when, eventually, Netanyahu does step down, Neil Rogachevsky takes stock of his career:

Compared with the tenures of almost all of his predecessors, Netanyahu’s premiership has seemed remarkably uneventful. The hallmarks of Israel under Netanyahu have been strength and stability. . . . There have been plenty of bumps, . . . yet some historical perspective is in order. The biggest military engagement of Netanyahu’s time—the 2014 Gaza war—was small compared with previous wars and battles, including with Gaza. . . . Meanwhile, over the course of Netanyahu’s rule, the country has enjoyed either very strong or better than average economic growth. When other Western countries sputtered in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Israel grew at 4 to 5 percent a year. A left-wing economic populist movement in the summer of 2011, motivated by high housing and food costs, has been if not diffused then at least limited. . . .

The principles of what one might call Netanyahuism are as follows: a strong, though cautious, policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians and foreign policy more generally; economic neo-liberalism where possible and practicable; and the middle ground and compromises on social questions, particularly of religion and state. They are a politics of moderation that fit well with what Ze’ev Jabotinsky, [the early Zionist thinker whose mantle Netanyahu claims to have assumed], called hadar (literally “magisterialism” or “honor”), a kind of enlightened or princely statesmanship. . . .

[A]n honest assessment of Netanyahu’s record would have to admit that his caution bespeaks a kind of common sense and moderation sorely lacking in many countries these days and often absent from Israeli history. . . . [He] has managed to temper fanaticism of all kinds, secular, religious, and military. This can be seen by the fact that his main rivals are not from the center or left but from the far right: populists in the Likud party and the splinter parties who seek to capture Likud’s [electoral] bases. . . .

Will Netanyahuism survive beyond the man’s tenure in office? This question is murky as he has few if any real disciples. Reagan had Reaganites; Thatcher had Thatcherites; even Tony Blair had Blairites. It’s hard to conceive that Netanyahu will have such followers. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing, as the question of the merits of disciples is as vexed in politics as in the world of ideas. Do not disciples corrupt as much as carry the flame? Disciples can sustain the example of a character worthy of emulation, yet they can also lack the ability to adapt to new circumstances. As in so many other things, the example of Abraham Lincoln is perhaps the happiest one. He did not produce political disciples who carried his platform forward after his death, but his example inspired the wisest stewards of American government for decades.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Ze'ev Jabotinsky

Europe Has a Chance to Change Its Attitude toward Israel

Dec. 15 2017

In Europe earlier this week, Benjamin Netanyahu met with several officials and heads of state. Ahead of his visit, the former Italian parliamentarian Fiamma Nirenstein addressed a letter to these European leaders, urging them to reevaluate their attitudes toward the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israel-Palestinian peace process, the gravity of European anti-Semitism, and the threat posed by Hamas and Hizballah. In it she writes:

For years, the relationship between Europe and Israel has been strained. Europe tends to criticize Israel for simply defending itself against the continual threats and terrorist attacks it faces on all its borders and inside its cities. Europe too often disregards not only Israel’s most evident attempts to bring about peace—such as its disengagement from Gaza—but also chides it for its cautiousness when considering what solutions are risky and which will truly ensure the security of its citizens.

The EU has never recognized the dangers posed by Hamas and Hizballah, as well as by many other jihadist groups—some of which are backed by [the allegedly moderate] Fatah. The EU constantly blames Israel in its decisions, resolutions, papers and “non-papers,” letters, and appeals. Some of Europe’s most important figures insist that sanctions against the “territories” are necessary—a political stance that will certainly not bring about a solution to this conflict that . . . the Israelis would sincerely like to resolve. Israel has repeated many times that it is ready for direct negotiation without preconditions with the Palestinians. No answer has been received.

The European Union continues to put forth unrealistic solutions to the Israel-Palestinian issue, and the results have only aggravated the situation further. Such was the case in 2015 when it sanctioned Israeli companies and businesses in the territories over the Green Line, forcing them to close industrial centers that provided work to hundreds of Palestinians. The Europeans promoted the harmful idea that delegitimizing Israel can be accomplished through international pressure and that negotiations and direct talks with Israel can be avoided. . . .

[Meanwhile], Iran’s imperialist designs now touch all of Israel’s borders and put the entire world at risk of a disastrous war while Iran’s closest proxy, Hizballah, armed with hundreds of thousands of missiles, proudly presents the most explicit terrorist threat. Europe must confront these risks for the benefit of its citizens, first by placing Hizballah on its list of terrorist organizations and secondly, by reconsidering and revising its relationship with Iran.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Europe and Israel, European Union, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy