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Netanyahu's Victory Tells Us Who Holds Power in the Middle East
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Benjamin Netanyahu is an early version of the nationalist populist leaders that have come to power in country after country in recent decades. He has an acute sense of who holds – and does not hold – power and how to manipulate it. No wonder he gets on well with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

His political approach has not varied much since he first came to prominence as an Israeli diplomat in Washington during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when he showed his skills as a propagandist in defending the Israeli war record, particularly during the bombing of Beirut. Speaking good American English, he knew exactly what to say on US television channels and his skills in dealing with American politics and the media have never deserted him.

When he eventually is replaced by another prime minister, a big difference will be that his successor may be less inclined – and will certainly be less capable – of becoming a player in US politics.

Netanyahu has always been astute politician, but his public stance is not always easy to interpret. One point to be made about his belligerent rhetorical style that helps explain his political longevity is that he commonly exaggerates threats from a host of supposed mortal enemies such as Iran or the Palestinians, but he has been very averse to going to war. Possibly his experience during the war in Lebanon in 1982-4 made him particularly careful about this. Military action when it takes place is in the shape of air, rather than ground, attacks.

This helps explain why “Bibi” is now likely to become Israeli prime minister for the fifth time after the election that concluded yesterday. Israeli voters like leaders who talk tough, but not those who get them engaged in long or, as is the more common experience, inconclusive wars. Even during the peak of Netanyahu’s verbal assaults on Iran as a threat to Israel, there has been a certain caution in Israeli military action in Syria and Lebanon.

The most important election that Netanyahu won was in 1996 against Shimon Peres, after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin the previous year. He played along with the Oslo Accords, but his electoral victory was a decisive defeat for the Israelis who supported them.

He has been accused of shifting the agenda from the two-state solution to promising the annexation of Israeli settlements on the West Bank during the present election campaign. But the so-called two-state solution was always something of a charade enabling foreign diplomats to pretend that there was a “peace process” that was dead and buried. Likewise, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and the US recognition of the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights do not really change a balance of power that is wholly in Israel’s favour.

On the other hand, the Palestinians will still be there in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank; Israel never achieves a final victory. Netanyahu has done nothing to change this – but then neither did previous Israeli leaders, whatever they claimed they were doing.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. What the re-election of Bibi tells the sentient world is that It’s not just Likud, it’s the Israeli populace.

    USAian leaders tell nations that they seek to cripple — like Iran, Russia, Venezuela — that “It’s not you, the people, we dislike, it is your leadership. We want to liberate you from your leaders.”

    But Israelis elected Bibi.
    “Liberating” Israel from its supremacist, murderous elements must encompass the entire populace and drill down to the last and least of the “only democracy in the Middle East.”

    • Replies: @clownworldly
  2. “On the other hand, the Palestinians will still be there in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank; Israel never achieves a final victory. Netanyahu has done nothing to change this – but then neither did previous Israeli leaders, whatever they claimed they were doing.”

    In human affairs, never rule out the appeal of a “Final Solution” – should circumstances provide the extreme environment, such as a war that turns genuinely existential. There has yet been no country not capable of genocide, given a perfect storm of history. And there are those who hold that the balance has not yet been restored for the genocide of six million innocent Jewish lives, so there can be no moral calculation before there is an equivalent retribution taken from gentiles, an eye for an eye. If you subscribe to that sort of religion, it makes sense.

  3. “On the other hand, the Palestinians will still be there in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank; Israel never achieves a final victory. Netanyahu has done nothing to change this – but then neither did previous Israeli leaders, whatever they claimed they were doing.”

    Not true. What Bibi is doing is really smart and evil.

    He is trying to conduct a slow demographic takeover of the west. Continue the settlements, keep jewish fertility rates high, allow the settlers to carry out low intensity violence and harrasment. Occasionally you have to put a settler in jail for a few months to show “we’re a nation of laws and we don’t assault or arson or whatever.” But once the settler is out of jail he will go right back to his settlement. You don’t want things to get too crazy, so you have to lock away for a long time would-be terrorists that intend to kill a lot of people.

    Once Jews are the majority in the west bank, it belongs to Israel. This will take a long time.

    • Replies: @anon
  4. anon[126] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bao Jiankang

    Then they would claim how peaceful the Palestine or Eretz Israel has been . They would do that in future while hiding in some mountain like the ancestral mountain Jews .

    Suppressing news is the best way to achieve this. Already in US majority of Republican believe that the Palestinian in West Bank and Gaza and within Israel live honorably peacefully and as privileged minority .

  5. Realist says:

    Netanyahu’s Victory Tells Us Who Holds Power in the Middle East

    And the US.

  6. [Netanyahu] has been very averse to going to war

    As a rule, Jews are more than happy to allow the goyim to make the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf:

    ● ‘Even if we Jews are not physically at your side in the trenches, we are morally with you. This war is our war and you fight it with us.’—Schalom Asch, Les Nouvelles Litteraires, February 10, 1940

    ● ‘We are not denying and are not afraid to confess that this war is our war and that it is waged for the liberation of Jewry…Stronger than all fronts together is our front, that of Jewry. We are not only giving this war our financial support on which the entire war production is based, we are not only providing our full propaganda power which is the moral energy that keeps this war going.’—Chaim Weizmann, future President of Israel, December 3, 1942

    ● ‘The originators of the plan for the war with Iraq were Jewish-American neoconservatives “who conceived the idea and were principally responsible for pushing it forward in the wake of September 11.” Israel then chimed in to do its part, chiefly by providing false intelligence and by having its leaders join the public chorus in America in favor of the war.’—Review of Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, PDF, p36

  7. Blake says:

    Astute makes him sound awfully sound and grounded. Hes a sociopath

  8. TG says:

    Ah, no, the Israelis may well win. Because amateurs talk strategy and professionals talk logistics.

    How did the Americans finally defeat the native Indians? Not by military action, not really. By corralling them into reservations, where limited resources would naturally limit their populations. Israel is doing the same: encircling and strangling the Palestinians. The Palestinians breed like rodents (oh pardon my French but it’s true) but the best way to prevent a rodent infestation is to limit their access to food. No matter how many children the Palestinians try to have, they won’t have many if there is botenough food and water etc.

    Israel is engaged in a slow-motion program against the Palestinians, and it could easily work. Someday the Palestinians won’t be there – at least, not in significant numbers. Yes this is very ugly, but it’s what’s going on. And to be fair, the Palestinians are not saints either. Nobody like the Palestinians, they are trouble – Egypt has pretty much the same policy, the Egyptians have enough poverty to suite them without letting millions more frantically-breeding people into their already overpopulated lands.

    The bottom line is: Malthus was right.

  9. Sean says:

    When he eventually is replaced by another prime minister, a big difference will be that his successor may be less inclined – and will certainly be less capable – of becoming a player in US politics.

    Which means the time for a risky gambit will have passed. Netanyahu’s brother was a reckless special forces commander, and a shocking foolhardiness is in his blood. Trump has given Netanyahu a series of huge gifts in (recognition of Golan and Jerusalem), which is good for Trump but also guarantees Netanyahu will start musing with what he can get away with if Trump is re-elected.

    The Palestinians rejected Ehud Barak’s offer, but they don’t seem to realise it is not only off the table but gone forever.

    On the other hand, the Palestinians will still be there in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank; Israel never achieves a final victory. Netanyahu has done nothing to change this – but then neither did previous Israeli leaders, whatever they claimed they were doing

    Netanyahu will make an offer for a Draconian final settlement with the Palestinians, and if it is rejected he will expel the West Bank “Palestinians” back to the country whose passports they travel on: Jordan. There will have to be a wider war to serve as cover. Iran probabally.

  10. @Grace Poole

    Israel is murderous because it is in a very precarious position in the middle east. They can’t get all touchy feely and start chasing flying unicorns over rainbows and expect to survive. Perhaps the Zionist project of carving out a homeland for Jews in their traditional homelands that they hadn’t controlled in nearly 2,000 years was the real mistake that was made. But now you have millions of Jews living in present day Israel whose lives and way of life need protecting.

    The idea of peace between Palestinians and Jews is foolish. Now is the time to wake up and end the ethnic cleansing, land grabs, and bloodshed. Israel should unilaterally declare a one state solution giving the Palestinian authority in the west bank very little autonomy. All of the Palestinian security will be administered by Israel. In return Israel and its puppet, the US, will provide the necessary infrastructure to make the Palestinian West bank secure and livable. They can provide them with a super airport that will be Palestine’s trade portal with the world. The airport will be run by Israeli officials.

    There will be no end to the negative rhetoric with regard to a single state solution but the region will be secure and stable. And the Palestinian people will be better off under Israeli rule than Palestinian. It will be a win-win situation although it will be hard to find anyone that will admit it.

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