Israel’s Victory of Fear

Binyamin Netanyahu, detested by allies and opponents alike, is probably the most deficient prime minister in Israel’s history. And yet he has understood, better than any of his opponents, what motivates a majority of the country's voters.

TEL AVIV – Binyamin Netanyahu is probably the most deficient prime minister in Israel’s history. His blunders and vices have been laid bare in great abundance during his nine years in power. When he embarked on his most recent campaign for re-election, even his own supporters and constituents could not hide their disgust at his egomaniacal behavior and his wife’s embarrassing public conduct.

Beyond Netanyahu’s noxious personal characteristics, Israel has consolidated its position as one of the OECD’s most unequal countries under his rule. Netanyahu, the most fanatic neo-liberal leader in Israel’s history, asked the country’s penurious middle class and poor to re-elect him on a record of high living costs, unaffordable housing, and a 21% poverty rate. Yet re-elect him they did.

Nor could Netanyahu find any respectable security experts to vouch for his return to power. Some 180 generals and war heroes, chief among them Meir Dagan, one of the most revered former heads of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, came together to oppose the re-election of a man they described as a threat to Israel’s security.

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