If there is one thing Israeli voters ought to both resent and revolt against, it is the idea that the proud Jewish nation is a mere vassal state of their American allies.
If there is something that should make them not just resentful but also red-raged furious, it is the idea of an American presidential administration deliberately trying to dictate the results of an Israeli election.
And if there is a single thing those voters can do to fight back against those two insults — and, far more important, to safeguard the independence and survivability of the nation of Israel — it is to reelect Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.
Of course, we in the United States, those of us who admire Netanyahu as well as those who don’t, are not always aware of the domestic effects of the current government’s policies or of how various political personalities come across to Israelis in their daily life. But we do know very well, perhaps better than Israelis (while in the maelstrom of their internal politics) can appreciate, that Netanyahu enjoys an international stature that is many degrees greater than that of any of his challengers. Further, we can see that Netanyahu’s stature also outstrips the status of probably all of Israel’s prime ministers, even the most forceful and the most revered, of the past 40-plus years.
In a free world whose elected leaders today are sure to be pygmies in the eyes of history, Netanyahu alone consistently and resoundingly speaks for civilizing virtues, for steadfast adherence to essential principles, and for appropriate firmness against the despoilers of enlightened modernity. And he rallies all people of goodwill, in a way nobody else does, to defend Israel and civilization itself against the subhuman terrorists who are publicly committed to the annihilation of Israel and the establishment of worldwide sharia law.
The American people, by a huge percentage, support Israel almost viscerally. Despite this, President Obama has insulted Israel by despicably mistreating its elected leader and, most recently, has sent his minions to defeat Netanyahu and subvert the Israeli administration at every turn. Worse, Obama is not acting merely from personal pique against Netanyahu but from a decades-long antipathy to Israel itself. His entire adult life, going back to his college years, has been filled with paeans to the Palestinian cause, and he’s long enjoyed close associations with anti-Zionist and/or anti-Semitic haters such as professors Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said and pastor Jeremiah Wright.
If any Israelis are hoping that Obama will be friendlier to their cause if only they defeat Netanyahu, they will be sorely disappointed. Obama will continue to trample over Israeli interests no matter who Israelis elect this week. The only difference will be that nobody else on Tuesday’s ballot will fight for those interests, despite Obama’s opposition, the way that Netanyahu will. Israelis know that Netanyahu, whatever his perceived flaws, has the ability to keep their nation safe. They cannot be sure that Isaac Herzog will.
Americans who love Israel will, of course, continue to love it regardless. But we fear that, without Netanyahu’s leadership, there will be less of Israel left to love.
It’s not that Israel can’t produce other leaders who can preserve and protect its sacred nation, or that Netanyahu is some sort of superman. It’s just that, at this moment, he is the only one on the ballot with the proven ability to handle the job and effectively promote the Zionist cause in a hostile world. In no small measure because Barack Obama sits in the Oval Office, it is a world (aside from the American public) that is more hostile to Israel than ever.
Americans should be embarrassed, even mortified, that Obama has tried so hard to undermine both Netanyahu and the entire case for Israel’s legitimate, existential interests. We should recognize that Israel — entrepreneurial, humane, and free — is a bellwether for civilization itself, and we should not let our own House and Senate members, Republican or Democrat, forget it.
Because of Obama, the Israeli election has been roiled by questions about how the Obama–Netanyahu quarrels will affect Israel’s security. But Obama’s real quarrel is not with Netanyahu personally, no matter how much Obama pretends it is, but with Israel itself. He dislikes Netanyahu only because Netanyahu stands so strongly for Israel.
One can only hope that Israeli voters recognize that what Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI applies almost perfectly to their current prime minister in his patriotic stance for Zion: “What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.”
— Quin Hillyer is a contributing editor for National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter: @QuinHillyer.