Into The Homestretch

No Israeli politician has meddled in partisan American politics more than Bibi Netanyahu (R-West Jerusalem), much to the detriment of US-Israel relations and the support of Israel's primary support base in America.

Now that his latest and most disruptive foray has backfired on him, he is in full panic mode.  His supporters are accusing the State Department of funding the opposition's campaign.  He knows that's not true, but that's never been an impediment.

It isn't odd that so many former top colleagues and aides have broken with him.  Dan Meridor, one of the princes of the Likud (sons of the party's founders) and a former minister of Justice among other posts, told Yediot Ahronot he won't vote for his old colleague.

"Bibi is the biggest phony in the world. He may talk sweet, especially in English, but if psychologists or other experts analyze his speeches it is clear they are just a hot air," said Meridor, now president of the Israeli Council on Foreign Relations.

Two former chiefs of staff in Bibi's office not only are voting against him but formed their own parties and are running slates against him, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett.

Mordechai Tzipori, a former commander of the pre-state militia, the Irgun, and a former Likud minister, is another who turned against Bibi.  "I unequivocally say:  We mustn't vote for Netanyahu," he told Yediot.

Bibi did pick up the endorsements of TV action star Chuck Norris and actor Jon Voight , who said Barack Obama does not love Israel, as he does.

Fox News reported Senate Republicans are threatening a formal investigation into allegations that the Obama administration is funding anti-Netanyahu campaigns through OneVoice, a group supporting the two-state solution. The State Department rejected the charges, saying it halted all funding when Netanyahu called new elections last fall, according to the Jerusalem Post.

No Israeli politician has ever collected more in political contributions from American business people than Netanyahu, reported Haaretz. And yet no one complains louder that foreign money is flowing into his opponents. 

"There is a huge international effort, with major money, that is partnering up with leftist organizations here and also with media figures in order to bring down the Likud government that I head," Netanyahu told Channel 2 television.  

 “Foreign governments, specifically Scandinavians, are part of a worldwide campaign to topple me," he said in a Kol Yisrael radio interview.

This is the same guy who got his Republican friends to give him a platform before the US Congress to deliver a campaign speech attacking the President of the United States two weeks ago. Video clips of the event showed up extensively in Netanyahu's campaign ads.

In the House gallery for that speech was Netanyahu's wealthiest backer in two countries, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.  He owns the largest paper in the Jewish state, Israel Hayom, which daily gives Bibi its full-throated backing and echoes his thinking.

As Netanyahu's party drops in the polls and his outlook for Tuesday's election is increasingly bleak, paranoia and panic have set in as he points fingers of blame in all directions but the one where many of his Likud colleagues say the real fault lies. 

But don't count him out yet.  Remember the words of the great philosopher, Yogi Berra: it ain't over til it's over.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.