Yossi Klein Halevi, whom I admire and often agree with, is wrong in his Times of Israel blog, “Netanyahu, the end.” It criticizes PM Netanyahu but gives him too much credit. In 10 years he has either done nothing or been toxic; and this combination of a static status quo and toxicity seems to have taken over the politics of Israel.
Our fine TOI editor Miriam Herschlag quotes a passage from it on Facebook:
“The truth is, Netanyahu was often unfairly attacked and stigmatized. Much of the media really did pursue him. And the leaks from the police investigations into his cases were outrageous. And yes, the courts skewed drastically toward the secular left agenda (though that is less true today). There is much balance that needs to be restored to Israeli society.”
This responds to both Yossi Klein Halevi and the TOI’s own Miriam Herschlag:
Under him the security-risk and extremism-tending settlements have expanded. From the get-go these have undermined rather than contributed to Israeli security, turned Israel rightward, and for decades ruined serious negotiations for peace and true security.
He has conducted no serious negotiations; he undermined and subverted President Barack Obama’s work for peace and security for Israel and Palestine throughout Obama’s entire presidency
He installed the discriminatory and ethnically and religiously racist and bigoted “Nation-State Law”–which also violates Israel’s Declaration of Independence. This includes having evicted Arabic as one of the previously two equal official languages of Israel.
He has tried to include the Kahanist overtly racist Otzma Yehudit party into his coalition. In both 2019 elections spewed hate about the Arabs “voting in droves,” and demagogically calling on “the people” to prevent the government from being “overtaken by the Arabs.”
His incitement against Arabs began in the 1990’s when he contributed to the climate of opinion that led to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Never over 10 long years could he solve the problem of Hamas’s rule over Gaza.
Israel’s Gaza border towns and far south are just as insecure as ever. Both its citizens and the Right point out its insecurity constantly–and underscore how Netanyahu after 10 years has come up with no solution.
Again a fundamental point is that Israel is just as insecure than ever; he has done nothing to improve it. This is a fact that the Right itself always implies by its very fact of constantly bringing up the issue. So he hasn’t kept Israel any more safe than any other time and under any other leadership.
As part of this, people forget the random terrifying epidemic of stabbing and car-ramming and running-over onto sidewalks through civilians under Netanyahu.
Netanyahu was never remotely responsible for Israel’s new economy which happened due to the fundamental and revolutionary new age of high-technology that absolutely unsurprisingly and predictably would have taken off in exactly the same way with any party in charge, and is not attributable to Netanyahu, but was inevitable and unavoidable due to the talents and gifts and genius of the Israeli people.
And yet meanwhile Haredi population growth means continuously fewer Israelis attending secular schools, with devastating future effects for the economy.
It was not his doing but pure luck that the US recognized the whole of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Whether this was right or wrong, the main point is that Netanyahu had nothing to do with it.
He ignores anti-Semitism in the US. He does this apparently because it is rightist vandalism and violence against liberal American Jews rather than against fellow far-rightists.
He has tried to undermine the authority and power of the Israeli Supreme Court.
I don’t even address here the charges against him of corruption because –and here I agree with the Right– they are so minor compared to the big picture of Netanyahu’s long and ineffectual rule.
So what could Yossi Klein Halevi, who is congenial and not usually devoid of sense, be talking about? And why is the Israeli public so swayed by it over this past decade?
These are the three highlights of Netanyahu’s 10 years of either do-nothingism or harm:
- Israel’s economy would have taken off under high-tech regardless of any PM or coalition or Party. Netanyahu has had nothing whatever to do with it.
- Israel’s security is neither more nor less what it is now that any other modern time in its modern history. Netanyahu has not changed Israel’s insecurity or security situation one single iota.
- With the settlement expansionism and destruction of the Green Line he is leading Israel to a segregationist binational state. Ten straight years as PM and he hasn’t shown he has one single clue what to do about this most important of all dangers to the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state.
The only question is why the public keeps falling for it, especially for the three points just above: That (1) Netanyahu has had nothing to do with the thriving economy; (2) Netanyahu has had nothing to do with Israel’s security in any direction one way or the other; and (3) Netanyahu has done not one single thing to halt Israel’s progression — with the settlement expansionism and the Nation-State Law — toward becoming either a more undemocratic and more segregationist Jewish state or else a completely and altogether bi-national and non-Jewish state.
These are all large issues; the point is that Netanyahu has had nothing– for either better or worse — to do with any of them. After ten years, far from being a “consequential” prime minister–he has done nothing–or, rather, nothing but harm.