In less than 2 weeks, the Israeli voters will decide whether to put again their destiny in the hands of the already longest serving Prime Minister in Israel’s history, Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu is actually in a fight for his political life and beyond, as the results of the pending election may well determine whether he will go to jail or not.
There are still 2 weeks to go and we can only be sure about one thing: Netanyahu will do everything, anything to get re-elected, and thereby to escape justice, as his first priority after his reelection will be to vote a law that guarantees him immunity as long as he serves as PM (the so-called “French law”)
Netanyahu has never shown a major respect for the rule of law and for the democratic norms, breaking a long tradition that went from Ben Gourion to Rabin or Begin, and going even further than his immediate predecessors that were “looser” in their respect of such norms, such as Barak, Olmert or Sharon.
But his behavior in the last 2 years has gotten worse, and the panic he is going through made him break all semblance of statesmanship.
His latest attacks on the media are absolutely infuriating and damaging for a variety of reasons:
– Netanyahu trivializes antisemitism by accusing Jewish Israeli producers of a TV show to be antisemitic because they present a thesis that he does not agree with. If THIS is antisemitism, so it means that antisemitism can be everything and thereby not such a big deal.
– He uses this crazy accusation to discredit an entire news organization, claiming that since they are antisemitic the accusations of the same channels against him and his corruption are bogus. Discrediting an entire news organization, and by extension an entire profession is familiar to the Americans in the age of Trump, but it is no less infuriating.
– He blackmails openly the Top management of these TV channels, threatening them with retaliation in case they do not comply with his requests, a more compliant media. This the textbook definition of abuse of power by an autocrat.
– He threatens the personal safety of journalists in Israel, the way the far-right threatened a PM and later on left-wing organizations such as Breaking the Silence
Netanyahu does not care about Israeli democracy, that he sees more and more as an obstacle to his power and his freedom, so he will not stop at anything that prevents him from winning the elections.
His latest attack on the Media is only the latest of his determined attacks on all the gatekeepers that still exist (for how long?) in the Israeli democracy.
In the recent months, he has attacked the police, the judiciary, the media and any institution able to limit his power.
Like in the USA, his systematic undermining of Israeli institutions will outlive his tenure and it will take time, and a strong and very respected leadership to try and restore their credibility, if that is even possible.
By that, but also by his unwillingness to address the problem of the Israeli occupation, Netanyahu will go down in History not only as a cynical prime Minister, but as a lousy politician that chose political expediency over statesmanship, his short-term future over the long-term well-being and standing of the State of Israel.
Let’s only hope Netanyahu will not have ruined the prospects of the country he led for so many years.
And in the very short term, let’s only hope he will not be renewed for another term, to send a signal to the world that Israel is not equivalent to Netanyahu, and that the damage he has done can be somewhat undone.