Israel’s Victory of Fear

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.

But one does not have to be a security icon to see how Netanyahu has burned Israel’s bridges with the international community, particularly the United States, Israel’s most indispensable ally and benefactor. Not only did he openly seek to sabotage President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran by aligning himself with Obama’s Republican opponents; two days before the election, he suddenly reneged on his commitment to the two-state solution, the cornerstone of the international community’s vision for achieving peace in the Middle East.