There is an urban legend going around on the internet that Benjamin Netanyahu has an IQ of 180; roughly 0.0000001% percent of the population or every 1 in 3.5 million people. This would give him a higher IQ than pretty much every famous genius ever. The origin of this stems from a 1999 Michael Hirsh article about Ehud Barak describing him as someone with an IQ of 180. This was not a statement of fact, but a mere way of describing Barak as a smart person. Somehow this morphed into a ‘confirmed internet fact’ that (Ehud’s political rival at the time) Bibi has an IQ of 180.
Although this claim is likely false, Netanyahu is in fact an incredibly smart person. Regardless of one’s political views or opinion of the man, Netanyahu’s two degrees from MIT, work at Boston Consulting Group, success in the cerebral Sayaret Maktal, its hard to define him as anything but an incredibly bright and hardworking individual.
Superlatives aside, it seems as if Netanyahu is acting quite foolishly at the moment. Presently, it appears as if Netanyahu is expending significant political capital and energy to ensure that negotiations with the Palestinians remain alive. Netanyahu finds himself with less international pressure when he is engaged in negotiations with the Palestinians, so he finds this indefinite temporary situation ideal. It is clear to everyone except John Kerry that these peace negotiations are going nowhere. These moves by Netanyahu make sense, but just as clear as it is the peace negotiations are not going anywhere, it is also clear that the peace negotiations are temporary and will eventually end.
The Palestinian’s current strategy is to upset Israel. Whether it is through causing schisms among Jews, alienating Israel internationally, or making life on the ground harder for Israel, it is very obvious that this is the Palestinian’s goal.
As outgoing national security advisor Yaakov Amidror said last week, the Palestinians have “not moved one inch” in their positions or made any concessions since 1994. After recognizing the State of Israel and what it perceives as a loss of 78% of their land, there is nothing else they will do. One would think for a state that claims to be occupied and oppressed so much that they would be the ones rushing to the negotiating table to get an agreement as fast as possible, but this is simply not the case. The Palestinians prefer the status quo while holding onto their sacred rights and antagonizing Israel more than they would prefer an independent sovereign state.
The Palestinian’s know that regardless of what happens, Israel will always be blamed, and they will always be treated as the world’s darling. The Palestinian’s also know that they can do whatever they want without repercussions because any repercussion would make their state less stable which aside from causing more problems for Israel, will only garner them further sympathy.
The status quo is politically unsustainable for Israel while being the preferred scenario for the Palestinians. This means that it is imperative for Israel to adapt and create a new strategy to put them in a better position. Regardless of one’s views of how they want the conflict to evolve, it is indisputable from both the right and the left that Israel must act in some way to put themselves in a better position.
One of my favourite academics is a legal scholar named Eugene Kontorvich. Although I greatly admire what he does and think he produces great work, I cannot but help laugh at the situation he finds himself in. People will write something about Israel and Kontorovich will respond explaining why what they said is incorrect. Although Kontorovich’s work is accurate and the people he is engaging with agree with what he says in a strict sense, the response will always be these two things – although what you said is accurate, you are wrong because of politics or although what you said is right, you are wrong because everyone else disagrees with it. Israel’s actions may be right, moral and justified but it does not matter if the world has already made up their mind.Netanyahu does not need to act like a person with an IQ of 180, but he must make a decision for the future.