Don Davis

Keeping Netanyahu

Domestic and international questions loom over the political survival or coalition stability of Israeli Prime Minister (PM), Benjamin Netanyahu, amid the alleged criminal investigation and substantial public protests.

Except, this opens up another mystery; why didn’t the public replace Netanyahu before these purported scandals? There have been social demonstrations in prior years and the opportunity to have another PM arose in the elections of 2013 and 2015.

Israelis know the reason, but some supposedly don’t want to come to terms with it or admit it publicly.

Depending on the moment of the surveys, Chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid and Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay appear to be the current, potential contenders for the next PM bid, even though there are a few retired army generals striving for political standing.

However, regional realities will most likely determine Israel’s PM outcome.

To begin with, unlike many western countries or large countries with expansive borders, Israel and various other Middle East countries have to deal with persistent, lethal terror and war threats and attacks. Militaries or militias that can literally overrun a country in minutes or an hour, plus incoming rocket and missile strikes that have less than a few minutes warning at best.

As a result, strength and security is paramount and in many scenarios the primary or solitary issue.

Moreover, since Middle East leaders do not have the luxury of relative peace-like conditions, as per say the United States and Europe, leadership qualities in this region normally alter to require someone with a history of strength, not the perception – that can get people killed, but the proven behavioral achievement of power.

In these harsh environments, where your entire country can be ravaged in less than a few hours, in the most brutal of circumstances, and no leadership security detail in the world can stop it, the person in charge becomes a living essential and not a popularity contest.

In fact, I would venture to suggest that only a tiny percentage of current world leaders could endure these perpetual, Middle Eastern chaotic and ambiguous state of affairs. And for that reason, it should be common sense and respectful for them to be prudent in their unending quick, public criticisms. Distinctively, because most have no clue or concept what it’s like to live in this chronic dilemma, let alone be a leader here.

Furthermore, unless a person has taken the government by force, choices and qualifications for leadership are extremely limited. This is true in Israel as well but for additional reasons.

An Israeli, whether Jewish or Arab, has the same challenges getting into politics as any western country regardless that Israel is a small country and population. And frankly, many Jewish Israelis simply do not want the hassle of trying.

Accordingly, based on these known Middle East factors, let’s briefly analyze the alternatives if Netanyahu is unseated.

The leadership or party traits the Jewish Israeli voter will be commonly looking for during these relentless, highly volatile situations in Gaza, the northern border and internally with the Palestinian Arabs, will be safety first, then financial. Why? Because money is useless without your life.

So, does Yair Lapid or Avi Gabbay have the mental and physical poise, strength, and Israeli military and political comprehension, and world military and political knowledge to overcome all these toxic and notorious trials? Can they deal with enemy border attacks, adversary coordinated strikes, bio/chemical assaults, nuclear intimidation and savage combat while world politicians are ‘screaming’ (as they habitually do) for Israel to ‘stand-down’ or use restraint? How about handling the entire combination at once?

Can anyone?

Since both Yair and Avi have important leadership positions we want to believe, they can. Resolved optimism.

But, here is where I believe the Netanyahu survival saga began, and maybe concludes.

I call it the ‘unknown voting phase’; it relates specifically to this period of time because the ‘unknown’ can be fatal.

Benjamin Netanyahu has something very few Israeli leaders or prospective leaders have. Foremost, he is the PM and changing that fact may be more than the Israeli public is prepared to handle.

Next, but nearly as important is that Netanyahu has a solid, proven history in fierce combat and close-combat terrorist brawls, has been wounded in combat, tremendous experience and years of knowledge of world leaders and how to handle them, immediately confronts threats to Israel, consistently defends any Israeli action against threats to Israel or Israeli sovereignty, and steadfastly protects Judaism and the Israeli population. Very few on this planet have that amalgamation on their resume.

What’s more, and this is very significant, Netanyahu does not get credit for resisting the formidable, clandestine outside political and institutional forces. For allegedly refusing millions of dollars from worldwide individuals, ‘donors’ and ‘institutional’ secret slush funds, and the immense pressure they deluge him with to sign deals with the Palestinian Arabs, that he, Netanyahu, believes are incomplete, deceptive and dangerous to the Jewish Israelis and the State of Israel. This takes exceptional bravery, patriotism, duty and discipline on Netanyahu’s part.

Just as important, the Israeli people know what they’ve got with Netanyahu and pretty much how he’ll behave and respond. They may not like him or his wife, they may loathe his politics, and can’t stand working with him or despise the deals he has made with the religious, but people know he will concretely protect Israel in this dangerous, unpredictable era.

Likewise, depending on which data you believe the above qualities may have been the reason for the public and government powers to elect, and endorse for a coalition, Netanyahu for the past three elections.

In other words, the numerous “closet Netanyahu’s” put him in office and keep him in office. Individuals, who publicly say, I don’t like him, and I don’t want him, but believe he’s the best for Israel at this point.

Otherwise, someone else would be PM.

This brings the ‘unknown voting phase’ full circle and would also explain the discrepancies in what the survey results were then, what the media was saying, and how Netanyahu became PM anyway in 2009, 2013 and 2015.

Consequently, it would be no surprise if the Israeli politics, public, government, lawmakers and enforcers procrastinated or dragged out the investigations in order to see if the treacherous regional threats cool or get worse.

Particularly, in this present situation with the sadistic Islamic State near the Israeli border in Sinai, the hostile Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, the unpredictable Fatah and Hamas in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank), the Jerusalem Capitol quandary, the Israel and Jewish hating Hezbollah, Iranian and Syrian troops near the northern border, and the Iranian nuclear missile program.

The ‘Netanyahu investigation’ may proceed, entailing the fall of many of Netanyahu’s advisors, appointees and friends, to show the public there is progress. But if local and regional events deteriorate further Israelis will most likely make the deduction in this stark and bleak reality that this is no time for an untested or novice prime minister.

Which is why I submit to you readers, that this is one reason Netanyahu has consistently won re-election and formed a coalition despite his numerous and very public critics.

Cause, if you’re in a fight with the ‘baddest’ bullies in the neighborhood, you want someone who has Been There Done That, successfully.

Therefore in conclusion based on past Israeli voter and coalition building, it may well be that the Israelis again make a strategic decision in saving or keeping – Netanyahu.

About the Author
Don Davis is a published Middle East analyst and book author that has been in the Middle East, North Africa, and Mediterranean region since 1992. For more than twenty years most of his research material was client confidential and behavioral related. But some of his abridged reports have been posted as articles or blogs. Don is also the book author of the international spy and assassin thriller, The Children of Santiago. The story is no fuzzy, cutesy story. Instead, a sobering, blunt, action and psychological account about a military general, Santiago, using child, teen and young adults as spies and assassins. Recruited from international families while on active assignments abroad during the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 1990s.