| It doesn't stop|
at the water's edge
“”If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you, that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.
Benjamin Netanyahu (born 1949) is the Prime Minister of Israel and Chairman of the Likud Party, replacing (or ousting) the outgoing Ariel Sharon. Nicknamed King Bibi, both by supporters and detractors, he is one of the most virulently hawkish Israeli national leaders in their history. Back when he was still calling himself Ben Nitay and recently free from service in Sayeret Matkal, he was already intransigent, vowing at the age of 27 that Palestine would never have a state, one promise that he has kept his word on.  He has since, however, said that there would be conditions under which he'd accept a Palestinian state only to flipflop on that later for domestic political gain.
Israeli elections are weirdly complicated. It's a parliamentary system which votes for parties, who in turn vote in coalitions. Netanyahu is quite adept at forming coalitions of his right wing Likud, religious parties who can't stand the secularism of the left and a few centrist parties who align with him more out of hatred for the Left than affection for him. That's not to say he doesn't have a lot of support, but a big factor in his success is his prowess in navigating the parliamentary system. He's also quite good at PR, frequently giving interviews in English to US media outlets, which stands out in marked contrast to many of his predecessors who had a weird accent when speaking English or avoided it entirely. In the U.S., candidates will often pivot toward the center in the general election. Netanyahu does the same, then reverts back to his obstructionism once the ballots are counted.
Should he reign until July 2019 (unlikely given his rickety one-seat majority) he would be the longest serving prime minister in Israel's history, after the founding father Ben-Gurion. Netanyahu is also the only Prime Minister (thus far) who was actually born in Israel after its founding; all previous ones were either immigrants or were born in what is now Israel before the state's establishment.
Role in Sharon government
Oslo's failure was not in the text itself, but the failure of subsequent talks at Camp David, with both Sharon and Netanyahu looming large in the background. One major stumbling block was the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, which removed a progressive Israeli PM from the equation.[note 1]
Rabin's successor, Shimon Peres, was PM until being defeated by Netanyahu in '97. While Rabin was in the "Peace Camp", Netanyahu was not. He renegotiated the status of Hebron to give the Palestinian Authority military power. However, he also stopped the Wye River land deal as envisioned by the Oslo Accords. He was also caught on tape bragging about how he purposely derailed the Oslo Accords by reneging on the Hebron Agreement later on. Even before he was PM, though, Netanyahu criticized what he called Arafat and the PA's "revolving-door policy" on terrorism.
The Camp David Summit was promising, and both sides came very close to a solution. Clinton blamed the failure on Arafat, who didn't say 'no', but could never quite bring himself to say 'yes.' Clinton wrote, "I warned Arafat that he was single-handedly electing Sharon and that he would reap the whirlwind." After the failure of Camp David, things changed considerably. Hardliner Sharon was voted PM; the Second Intifada broke out; Hamas and Fatah split, also splitting the governments of Gaza and the West Bank, along with a strengthened, autonomous Hamas which made negotiation more difficult.
Netanyahu sharply criticized Sharon's disengagement from Gaza, believing that Israel should have maintained full control over it.
He was first prime minister from 1996 (the one time the premiership was directly elected) to 1999, where he ran an American-style negative campaign which demonized his opponents to hell and back; he lost to Ehud Barak, who used the exact same tactics, in 1999.
While he's mostly remembered for his foreign policy, Netanyahu's domestic policy is hardly any better, as in each of his four terms, he privatized state-run industries and set the country into a free market wasteland that led to economic fuck-up after economic fuck-up; a housing crisis has characterized his latest tenure.
As Minister of Finance in 2003-2005, Netanyahu instituted a program to end welfare dependency by requiring people to apply for jobs or training. The once-venerated safety net was demolished. He also reduced the size of the public sector, reformed and streamlined the taxation system, and attacked monopolies and cartels to increase competition. These Thatcherite policies enriched the few while depowering the many, leading to Israel having one of the largest wealth gaps in the world. In his defense he speaks a very clear and eloquent American English (to be exact, Philadelphia English from spending his teenage years with his family in Cheltenham Township) which is particularly evident in his addresses to the world (mostly American) media and the United Nations.
He became the leader of Likud and Opposition Leader shortly thereafter, returned to power in 2009, and subsequently won two more terms in 2013 and 2015. In November of 2015, Spain issued an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and for seven other former and current government officials. A Spanish national court judge ordered the police and civil guard to notify him if Netanyahu sets foot on Spanish soil. The case concerns an attack by Israeli security forces against an international "Freedom Flotilla" aid ship in 2010 that was trying to break an Israeli blockade and reach Gaza. The flotilla was carrying humanitarian aid and construction materials. During the raid Israeli forces killed nine human rights activists.
“”It is stunning how much Bibi’s actions serve Tehran’s strategic interests
|—The Mustache of Understanding|
He was one of the neocons who said removing Saddam Hussein would bring a "guarantee" of stability and security in the region, and firmly pushed for the Iraq War. He has constantly claimed, year after year, that Iran is either close to obtaining nukes, about to obtain nukes, or has already obtained nukes. He claims to believe that Iran is looming as nuclear threat to Israel but leaked reports from the Mossad have consistently debunked his bullshit on Iran making any nukes at all. The war with Iran remains on the table for Israel and their Sunni allies of convenience; they just need to amp up the provocations until America is forced into another war in the Middle-East that will gain us nothing but eternal enmity and more war.
Netanyahu's record on Palestine is likely his worst policy (along with his marrying off the right wing to the religious fundamentalists of the country). He's basically a neocon Republican, elected to make sure that nothing meaningful gets done about a Palestinian state. This is no coincidence: Ron Dermer and Michael Oren before him both have conspired with the GOP in ongoing efforts to thwart American interests in the Middle-East and elsewhere. Likud is also modeling their attack ads on Republican ones.
He is infamous for repeatedly building settlements on Palestinian soil, and justifying his actions by claiming that it's Israeli, not Palestinian, land that he's settling. Netanyahu demanded the full demilitarization of the proposed state, with no army, rockets, missiles, or control of its airspace, and said that Jerusalem would be undivided Israeli territory. He stated that the Palestinians should recognize Israel as the Jewish national state with an undivided Jerusalem. He rejected a right of return for Palestinian refugees, saying, "any demand for resettling Palestinian refugees within Israel undermines Israel's continued existence as the state of the Jewish people."
Another controversy spawned when Netanyahu stated that he would accept a Palestinian state — purportedly he would do this if an undivided Jerusalem becomes the undisputed capital of Israel, the Palestinians disband their army and the Palestinians revoke their demand for a right of return. Of course, Netanyahu has almost certainly never intended to permit a Palestinian State:
In his 2000 book, A Durable Peace, Netanyahu outlined his vision for any future self-governing Palestinian territory, one that bore little resemblance to actual statehood. “Many in the world have blithely accepted the notion that the Palestinians must have their own independent state,” Netanyahu wrote. “When I am asked about a Palestinian state, I answer in the negative.” Instead of statehood, Netanyahu proposed the creation of a “Palestinian entity,” a governing body with some rights of limited self-governance but not full independence.
So, neither the status of Jerusalem, nor any positions the Palestinians might revoke, would likely alter Netanyahu's opposition to a Palestinian state.
Highlights of Netanyahu's easy recourse to devastating use of Israel's military include two wars in Gaza, one in 2012 and another in 2014, the more infamous being the latter. In the summer of 2014 he presided over a 51-day bombardment that publicly killed thousands of Palestinian civilians; a UN shelter was shelled despite the UN repeatedly warning Israel that it was for hospital purposes and that it had hundreds of children. Even those who normally defend Israel's wars, like Joe Scarborough or Bill Maher, were taken aback at the brutality of the 2014 Gaza war. Many were especially appalled when Netanyahu told CNN the Gazans crave dead civilians to use these "telegenically dead" to win support.
Controversial statements on the Holocaust
In October 2015 when addressing a group of Jewish leaders, Netanyahu caused an uproar when he claimed the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini (appointed by the British) induced Hitler to exterminate the Jews. Historians strongly criticized Netanyahu's comments as both inaccurate and supportive of Holocaust deniers by exculpating Hitler and the Nazis for designing and implementing the Holocaust. The statement coincided with a wave of violent unrest and Israeli-Palestinian tensions. "Hitler didn't want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews," Netanyahu told the group. "And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, 'If you expel them, they'll all come here.' 'So what should I do with them?' he asked. He said, 'Burn them.'" No documentation exists for this conversation taking place and it's rejected by Israeli historians.
Nevertheless, as CNN reported, Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, refused to shirk her country's responsibility:
One person who isn't buying the idea that anyone outside Germany — including a Muslim leader from Jerusalem — was responsible for the Holocaust is that country's current chancellor.
"We don't see any reason to change our view of history, particularly on this issue," Chancellor Angela Merkel said while standing alongside Netanyahu. "We abide by our responsibility, in Germany, for the Holocaust."
CNN also reported that, "[t]here's no video or audio, not even a transcript… of the conversation between Hitler and Husseini." Further, Netanyahu's statements "spurred criticism in Israel and the Palestinian territories, with some claiming that Netanyahu had effectively absolved Hitler of the Holocaust's most gruesome, deplorable aspect and instead blamed Husseini…"
Let us be blunt: we can scarcely comprehend why the first (and to date, only) Israel-native leader of the only Jewish majority state in the world downplayed the Nazis' role in the Holocaust while insisting that the true idea for the genocide was from an Arab, especially when Nazism's ideology held Semites (including Arabs in this instance) to be racially inferior, making it further questionable why an Aryan supremacist would need to take advice from someone he considered of a lower standing. This accusation grows even more bizarre when one notes that Netanyahu's statement overlooks that Jews weren't the only victims of the Nazis' eliminationist views and policies, which were already being implemented when Hitler met with the Mufti. About 11 million people — 6 million Jews and 5 million so-called "Gypsies", Communists, Soviet citizens, Poles, Freemasons, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled, and various other groups — were all targeted for elimination. Hitler's decree to "euthanize" the disabled considered "unworthy of life" dates to 1 September 1939, and forced sterilization was going on since well before that. However -- and Netanyahu's anti-Arab propaganda notwithstanding -- while Husseini did not induce Hitler to exterminate the Jews, and had no responsibility for the Holocaust whatsoever (historian Raul Hilberg devotes only one sentence to Husseini in his 1,000+ magisterial work on the bureaucratic, brutal efficiency of the Nazi killing machine), both CIA and Army files establish that the Allies considered Husseini a war criminal who fled to Berlin where he collaborated with the Nazis and recruited Bosnian Muslims to fight for the Nazi side.
Otherwise, his policies are firmly center-right and align with the Conservative Party, to name an example. Many of his partners in the coalition are even more extreme than him, with ultra conservative Naftali Bennett (think a Jewish Ted Cruz) and ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman (who wanted to strip Israeli citizens of the right to vote if they didn't swear allegiance to the country) particularly standing out.
Relationship with the United States
“”A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.
|—George Washington, 1796 Farewell Address (nothing new under the sun)|
Netanyahu's behavior is the result of America taking the brakes off and long having allowed Israel to do as she wants. At this point, the U.S. has lost the ability to rein in Israel even for the sake of America's best interests. His personal dislike for Barack Obama is well-documented and largely mutual; despite Obama providing Israel with the Iron Dome, the most comprehensive anti-missile defense system in history, Netanyahu continued to badmouth the President for his entire tenure in the White House on the basis of his somehow not being pro-Israeli enough. He supported Mitt Romney over Obama in 2012, and was reportedly pissed off when Obama won re-election.
Back in 2012, when Obama was making secret negotiations with Iran, Netanyahu threatened to attack Iran at last… and immediately backed off when Obama flatly stated that he would never support a unilateral Israeli attack on Iranian soil. Netanyahu relishes the sheer adoration of the Republican Party, to the point where he openly sides with the Republicans against Obama; John Boehner invited Netanyahu to make a speech in Congress on the month he was running for re-election, which angered Obama to the point where he boycotted the speech along with several other Democrats including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. He spied on the Iranian-US-EU negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program and disseminated false information to both Israeli lawmakers and American Congressmen, as a way to drum up opposition to a nuclear deal; he even claimed that a deal would strengthen Iran's capacity to build nukes, which is patently false. Obama had him barred from the negotiations, which later led to his speech to Congress.
His vehement opposition to a Palestinian state, despite pretending that he was in favor of a two-state solution (that largely meant giving more land to Israel), led the Obama White House to finally play hardball more publicly; for a time they even considered backing a UN resolution on the recognition of a Palestinian state. During the 2015 elections, Netanyahu pandered to racist fears about the supposed hordes of Arab-Israelis heading to the polls, and flatly revealed that he never wants a Palestinian state to ever exist in what he holds is the "God-given" land of the Jews. He asserted that support of a Palestinian state is tantamount to yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorists to attack Israel. How much has he pissed off the Americans? The White House declassified documents that detail Israel's nuclear program. Then, at the U.N, America abstained on Security Council Resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal, causing the measure to pass.
Netanyahu and his aides, however, are terrible at reading the American public, preferring to listen to neoconservative boot-lickers and the always-wrong Christian Zionists. Israel's tone deafness is evidenced by their delusion in thinking that Romney would win the 2012 election and in Netanyahu's absolute conviction that he could threaten war with Iran to divide Jewish Democrats with a loyalty test. What he doesn't understand is that several American billionaires, like Sheldon Adelson[note 2] -- and even a Democratic one like Haim Saban -- and others who are in a position to finance, among other things, the annexation of Gaza, constitute a significant portion of the "Israel-First" lobby. Consensus is one thing. Smoke-filled backs rooms where rich guys work out deals together, and the general population isn't consulted, is quite another.
The Trump Years
“”I hear penguins support Israel. They have no difficulty recognizing that some things are black and white.
Donald Trump, for all his slobbering overtures about giving Israel and it's most vehement amoral American supporters everything they wanted during his 2016 campaign, managed to garner condemnation from Netanyahu before he even entered office. This is due to, among other things, his prejudiced remarks about Muslims.
In fact, Trump's general dumbassery has frustrated even Mossad. When the Israelis gave intelligence on Daesh to Washington, Trump blurted out the intel to Russia, an ally of Iran, and provoked harsh condemnation from Israeli intelligence sources who vowed never to share intel with the United States as a result.
When Trump was visiting Israel, he, without prompt, insisted that declassified information to Russia was within his right as President. This happened before the Israeli government was even allowed to comment on the incident, and Netanyahu, barely holding together a nervous smile, tried and failed to force Trump to shut his mouth.
The embarrassments didn't stop there. When Trump refused to condemn Neo Nazis who killed protesters, Netanyahu refused to respond, and a minister he appointed said preserving ties with the American President is more important than denouncing Nazis. This led to relentless condemnation from within Israel itself; many could not believe the first Israeli-born Jewish Prime Minister would dare to value the politics of the American President more than the history of his people.  You wanted a Republican President, Bibi. You got him.
- Ironically it seems that Yigal Amir, besides killing Rabin, will be the one to kill Zionism, since he kicked it down this path.
- Remember, Shelly is even richer and crazier than Donald Trump. He wants to nuke Iran, and also wishes he had served in the Israeli military instead of the U.S. Army.
- He's essentially Likud's Dick Cheney, although he is at least no chickenhawk as the
Sith Lordformer Vice President is. He took part in this hostage freeing mission among others. One of his commanders was Ehud Barak.
- Bezalel, Mel, "Who is Ben Nitay, and why does he look so much like Binyamin Netanyahu?", The Jerusalem Post 3.29.09.
- Levy, Gideon, "Who Is the Real Bibi Netanyahu?", RCP via Haaretz 17 July 2010.
- Erlanger, Steven, "After Condemnations, Arafat Is Still a Target", NYT 4 August 1997.
- "Clinton chides Arafat for 'colossal mistake' in peace talks", ABC 22 June 2004, 4:06am.
- Murphy, Dan, "Is Israel trying to lead the US to war with Iran?", CSMonitor 8.15.12.
- Davis Hirchfield, Julie, "Administration Official Criticizes Israeli Ambassador Over Netanyahu Visit", NYT 1.28.15.
- Boteach, Shmuley, "Michael Oren errs on Netanyahu and Congress", Jerusalem Post 2.2.15.
- Leibovitz, Liel, "Left For Dead", Tablet Magazine.
- Benjamin Netanyahu: full speech on Palestinian state The Telegraph (10:19PM BST 14 Jun 2009).
- Jerusalem is the de facto seat of government and capital of Israel, though the international recognition of this fact is a decidedly messy issue with many embassies in Tel Aviv mostly for that reason
- Netanyahu causes uproar by blaming Palestinians for Holocaust
- Professor Zimmermann, the Hebrew University historian, said on Israel Radio that Mr. Netanyahu was “doing something he must not do,” and that in “the protocol” of the 1941 meeting between the mufti and Hitler, “the text that Netanyahu speaks of does not appear.” Professor Zimmermann went on to argue"'He moves the responsibility of the Holocaust, for the destruction of the Jews, to the mufti and the Arab world,'...'This is a trick intended to stain the Arabs of today because of the Arabs of the past. To pile on the Arabs of the past by easing up on the Germans of the past.' Professor Litvak of Tel Aviv University said the speech was 'the height of the distortion of history.'" http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/world/middleeast/netanyahu-saying-palestinian-mufti-inspired-holocaust-draws-broad-criticism.html?smid=tw-nytimesworld&smtyp=cur
- The Nazi summary of the meeting is, however, available, and contains no such intimation. http://www.timesofisrael.com/full-official-record-what-the-mufti-said-to-hitler/
- See the Wikipedia article on The_Holocaust#Victims.
- Israel Spied on Iran Nuclear Talks With U.S.: Ally’s snooping upset White House because information was used to lobby Congress to try to sink a deal by Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal (March 23, 2015 10:30 p.m. ET).
- Goldberg, J.J., "Are American Jews Too Loyal to the Democrats?", Forward 4.14.15.
- Bill Moyers and Michael Winship., “We are hostage to his fortune”, Salon 3.7.15.
- Wasserman Schultz, Debbie, "Why GOP's 'Sheldon Adelson Primary' Is Disgrace — and Won't Lure Jewish Voters", Forward 4.24.15.