The Campaign Spot

Is This Week the End of Prime Minister Netanyahu?

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Is This Week the End of Prime Minister Netanyahu?

We’ll know soon whether this is the Washington Post reading too much into standard campaign rhetoric, or an accurate sense of a big shakeup coming this week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned supporters at a rally here Sunday that he and his Likud party may not win Tuesday’s election, a potentially dramatic fall for a consummate political survivor whose nine years in office transformed him into the public face of contemporary Israel.

A loss by Netanyahu — or a razor-thin win and the prospect that he would be forced to enter into an unwieldy “government of national unity” with his rivals — would mark a sobering reversal for Israel’s security hawks, in a country where the electorate has been moving steadily rightward for the past 15 years.

A detail in that poll they’re citing: “A majority of Israelis answer they want Netanyahu for Prime Minister, but they have issues with the Likud.” It’s easy to see foreign election results through our domestic political lens, but other countries’ voters make their decisions by their own criteria. A lot of news that’s big over there never makes a ripple over here. For example, the Netanyahus are getting flak for spending taxpayer money on cleaning services, take-out food, and so on.

Remember how the Obama administration’s big objection to the Bibi Netanyahu speech was that it represented an inappropriate sense of the American government taking sides in Israeli politics?

(Note we’re talking the American government, not Americans. Sure, Obama’s aides, like Jeremy Bird, are working on campaigns to replace Netanyahu. Haters gonna hate, and political consultants gonna consult. It’s a free country – two, really – and if Bird wants to work for opposition groups, he’s free to do so. Of course, if I were a foreign intelligence service interested in either the United States or Israel, political consultants would make an exceptionally tempting target, because they’re close to the leaders of the country and yet usually don’t have security clearance or familiarity with counter-surveillance techniques.)

But doesn’t Obama’s visible, visceral contempt for Netanyahu make it pretty obvious that our government is already taking sides in Israeli politics? The administration goes to Jeffrey Goldberg and calls Netanyahu “chicken****, recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’”

(Yes, “Aspergery.” No one in this administration gets to accuse anyone else of insensitivity to others, ever.)

In light of all that . . . a speech to Congress is going to suggest that the American government is taking sides in the Israeli elections? Really? That horse left the barn somewhere in Obama’s first term.

Our Quin Hillyer points out that it’s not like a new prime minister is going to dramatically change the way Obama sees Israel:

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.

Hey, look, the choice is up to the Israelis. But we all know how those who detest Israel will greet a Netanyahu defeat. In their eyes, a Netanyahu loss is a win for them – not Israeli’s future.

Most Popular


Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review


Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More

Democrats Think They Can Win without You

A  few days ago, Ericka Anderson, an old friend of National Review, popped up in the pages of the New York Times lamenting that “the Democratic presidential field neglects abundant pools of potential Democrat converts, leaving persuadable audiences — like independents and Trump-averse, anti-abortion ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More