Populist winds took down the Clintons and are now taking down Merkel, Macron, and May. Bibi, who is cruising to reelection (assuming he can stay out of jail) doesn’t have to worry about being taken down by nationalist populist insurgents because he is the nationalist populist insurgent who took down the establishment. He just did it earlier. Bibi was Trump before Trump.
Bibi and Trump have some similarities in style and character.
Bibi once went on TV to counterattack those (allegedly) blackmailing him for cheating on his third wife. Last Election Day, he rallied his base by warning of busloads of Arabs rushing to the polls.
But the real similarities are in political positioning and coalition.
They both ran on platforms of nationalism and realism vs. the post-national utopians.
They both successfully courted religious voters by essentially saying “I may be an adulterous playboy and a heathen but I respect you and I will defend you from the wolves.”
They both essentially told the deplorable majority, “the powerful people who look down on you hate me even more. If you have my back, I will take their arrows for you.”
And they did.
Sure, there are differences.
Bibi is a fiscal conservative. A courageous soldier. And the brilliant son of a leading (dissident) academic.
He is literally and figuratively a master chess player. A political animal from birth, and a cold, shrewd, disciplined manipulator. Bibi wouldn’t have publicly browbeaten his Attorney General for a year. He would have knifed him in the dark of night.
Bibi is a lifelong ideologue, advancing the same positions he learned from his father.
His most comprehensive book, A Place Among the Nations, has nationalism at its core. The book just celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was (unofficially) co-written by Dr. Yoram Hazony who just released The Virtue of Nationalism.
Bibi is cruising to reelection because he has completely defeated the left. He won the argument. He’s riding the demographic changes. And he neutralized the left’s stranglehold of the media. The only electoral threat to Bibi is that he won so convincingly that most parties now share his positions.
As recently as last election, the left was running on its standard theme: Bibi is leading us to diplomatic isolation if not war. The US president lost patience with Bibi. If Israel doesn’t propose a suicide pact (they don’t call it that) with Arab terrorists (they don’t call them that either), an even worse one will be imposed on her from the outside.
Now Israelis have about as much peace with Arab countries as they want. In my most recent conversation with an Israeli leftist about Saudi Arabia, he mentioned that he doesn’t want to normalize them.
Israelis see how Hezbollah and Hamas have taken over the areas of Lebanon and Gaza from which Israel withdrew, for peace. Even Israeli atheists are thanking God that Israel didn’t withdraw from the Golan Heights. Nobody (this time) is going to campaign on handing suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to terrorists.
Shimon Peres’ post-national, borderless New Middle East, all the rage only a few years ago, has been recognized as the delusional rantings of a (well-meaning) madman.
Similar things are happening elsewhere.
Europeans are realizing that the post-national project to protect Europe from Germany simply handed Europe to Germany.
Americans turned to Trump, whose team is working closely with Bibi in forming a nation-based Middle East policy centered on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel stopping Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Trump’s team is getting far better results than the catastrophes wrought by the Obama defeatists and Neocon imperialists.
South America’s largest country, Brazil, also turned to a nationalist-populist. Bibi attended his inauguration and Brazil announced they’re moving their embassy to Jerusalem. For all that the establishment tries to paint these nationalists as Nazis, they have turned to Jerusalem as a center and symbol of the battle against Brussels and Berlin.
As these leaders work to stop the imperialists and utopians, they’ve been turning to the man who has been doing this the longest and the most successfully.
This didn’t start with Bibi. He saw himself as the heir to Thatcher and Reagan, who saw themselves as heirs to Churchill, in a long Anglo-American tradition that saw themselves as continuing the stories and values of the Hebrew Bible.
All of these leaders are flawed. But they’re better than the people fighting them.
The ride will be bumpy. And Bibi may end up in jail. But ultimately, he won.