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Bibi Was Trump Before Trump

 

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.

Published in Foreign Policy
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There are 15 comments.

  1. Lincoln

    It’s always worth remembering that Bill Clinton sent James Carville over to Israel in 1999 to run what turned out to be a successful campaign to get Ehud Barak elected over Netanyahu, mainly because Clinton saw Barak as far more willing to reach a deal with Arafat (and in the process, win Bill the Nobel Peace Prize). It was Arafat’s walking away from Barak’s agreement to give the Palestinians just about everything they were asking for which led to the Second Intifada in September of 2000.

    Likud’s dominated control of the Israeli government since then, first with Sharon and then with Netahyahu again, in large part because Arafat showed the Palestinians’ hand with his rejection of the Camp David Summit accord. And Democrats in turn have come to see Israeli voters’ refusal to go back to a more malleable Labor government as akin to Red State voters in the U.S. who keep refusing to elect Democrats to office. To them, Bibi might as well be the governor of Texas (or, based om their hatred for him, more like Ted Cruz), where he and the people who keep voting him into office must be punished. And they’ve gotten even angrier over the past two years, due to the fact that Trump’s moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and other Arab nations have peeled away from their support of the Palestinians (ironically thanks to Barack Obama, who brought the Saudis together with the Israelis out of fear Obama was facilitating Iran’s efforts to develop their own nuclear weapons, in order to serve as a counterbalance to Israel in the Middle East).

    Voters there can see how U.S. politics is aligned right now, and aren’t going to give power back to a more liberal coalition that might do for a future Democratic president what Ehud Barak was willing to do for Bill Clinton 20 years ago.

    • #1
    • January 5, 2019 at 11:51 pm
    • 12 likes
  2. Inactive
    Gil Reich Post author

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    It’s always worth remembering that Bill Clinton sent James Carville over to Israel in 1999 to run what turned out to be a successful campaign to get Ehud Barak elected over Netanyahu, mainly because Clinton saw Barak as far more willing to reach a deal with Arafat (and in the process, win Bill the Nobel Peace Prize). It was Arafat’s walking away from Barak’s agreement to give the Palestinians just about everything they were asking for which led to the Second Intifada in September of 2000.

    Likud’s dominated control of the Israeli government since then, first with Sharon and then with Netahyahu again, in large part because Arafat showed the Palestinians’ hand with his rejection of the Camp David Summit accord. And Democrats in turn have come to see Israeli voters’ refusal to go back to a more malleable Labor government as akin to Red State voters in the U.S. who keep refusing to elect Democrats to office. To them, Bibi might as well be the governor of Texas (or, based om their hatred for him, more like Ted Cruz), where he and the people who keep voting him into office must be punished. And they’ve gotten even angrier over the past two years, due to the fact that Trump’s moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and other Arab nations have peeled away from their support of the Palestinians (ironically thanks to Barack Obama, who brought the Saudis together with the Israelis out of fear Obama was facilitating Iran’s efforts to develop their own nuclear weapons, in order to serve as a counterbalance to Israel in the Middle East).

    Voters there can see how U.S. politics is aligned right now, and aren’t going to give power back to a more liberal coalition that might do for a future Democratic president what Ehud Barak was willing to do for Bill Clinton 20 years ago.

    Agreed. Thank God Arafat turned Clinton & Ehud Barak down.

    It also seems that there was something in the works to be worked out during the transition period between Clinton’s successor’s election and inauguration. I’ve always wondered if the mess of the 2000 election aftermath prevented the deal from going through.

    The Israeli people kicked Ehud Barak out of office by a 61%-39% vote for Sharon, and have not trusted Labor since. Of course than Sharon did a withdrawal. It is generally accepted that Sharon was pressured with threatened legal actions against his children if he didn’t go along. I know all these things sound like crazy conspiracy theories, but there’s enough evidence behind them.

    And yet, we got through all this without suicidal concessions, and Israelis do not seem tempted to vote left again any time soon.

     

    • #2
    • January 6, 2019 at 3:20 am
    • 5 likes
  3. Member

    Re: the title of the OP: “Bibi Was Trump Before Trump” – As far as populism goes, fine. Draw the comparison. As far as military service to their respective countries…well, there’s no comparison. Trump evaded service and then bragged about his sexual escapades while other American men were dying in Vietnam. Netanyahu was a warrior. 

    At the age of 18, Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel, where he spent five distinguished years in the army, serving as a captain in an elite commando unit, the Sayeret Matkal. He took part in a raid on Beirut’s airport in 1968 and fought in the 1973 Middle East war.

    • #3
    • January 6, 2019 at 4:09 am
    • 7 likes
  4. Inactive
    Gil Reich Post author

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Re: the title of the OP: “Bibi Was Trump Before Trump” – As far as populism goes, fine. Draw the comparison. As far as military service to their respective countries…well, there’s no comparison. Trump evaded service and then bragged about his sexual escapades while other American men were dying in Vietnam. Netanyahu was a warrior.

    At the age of 18, Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel, where he spent five distinguished years in the army, serving as a captain in an elite commando unit, the Sayeret Matkal. He took part in a raid on Beirut’s airport in 1968 and fought in the 1973 Middle East war.

     

    The similarity goes deeper than populism. As for the military service and other differences, yes, I addressed that:

    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.

    • #4
    • January 6, 2019 at 4:58 am
    • 5 likes
  5. Member

    Thanks. What do you think of the “New Right” party being formed by Bennett and Shaked?

    • #5
    • January 6, 2019 at 6:13 am
    • 2 likes
  6. Inactive
    Gil Reich Post author

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Thanks. What do you think of the “New Right” party being formed by Bennett and Shaked?

    They’re who I’m voting for. And I’d love for Shaked to be PM one day. 

    • #6
    • January 6, 2019 at 7:51 am
    • 2 likes
  7. Member

    Gil Reich (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Re: the title of the OP: “Bibi Was Trump Before Trump” – As far as populism goes, fine. Draw the comparison. As far as military service to their respective countries…well, there’s no comparison. Trump evaded service and then bragged about his sexual escapades while other American men were dying in Vietnam. Netanyahu was a warrior.

    At the age of 18, Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel, where he spent five distinguished years in the army, serving as a captain in an elite commando unit, the Sayeret Matkal. He took part in a raid on Beirut’s airport in 1968 and fought in the 1973 Middle East war.

     

    The similarity goes deeper than populism. As for the military service and other differences, yes, I addressed that:

    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.

    I believe my distinction was more precise and telling about the character of each man. Trump wasn’t merely a non-soldier/civilian. Though I’ll grant he attended a military academy which made him smarter than all of his generals. 

    • #7
    • January 6, 2019 at 8:06 am
    • Like
  8. Member

    My Brother! We are the international fellowship of Christians and Jews! Let us together make America and Israel great again! Let us put those liberal socialists in their place!

    • #8
    • January 6, 2019 at 9:33 am
    • 4 likes
  9. Member

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Re: the title of the OP: “Bibi Was Trump Before Trump” – As far as populism goes, fine. Draw the comparison. As far as military service to their respective countries…well, there’s no comparison. Trump evaded service and then bragged about his sexual escapades while other American men were dying in Vietnam. Netanyahu was a warrior.

    At the age of 18, Benjamin Netanyahu returned to Israel, where he spent five distinguished years in the army, serving as a captain in an elite commando unit, the Sayeret Matkal. He took part in a raid on Beirut’s airport in 1968 and fought in the 1973 Middle East war.

    Metaphors and analogies are never perfect. That is why they are called an analogy or metaphor. Compare and contrast. There are many more similarities between these two men than differences. And their respective fights within their own countries are exactly alike. And each man has the same remedy for their countries … and the world. And it is a righteous one … standing athwart history and socialist liberals yelling “Stop”! 

    Viva Israel and America! Viva Bibi and Donald!

    • #9
    • January 6, 2019 at 9:37 am
    • 5 likes
  10. Member

    Thank you Gil, I have always admired Bibi since that raid when his brother was killed. I always believed he would make a great P.M. And the fact that President Trump has some of the same determinations of Bibi had/has is an admirable trait, and his escapes can be forgiven. At least he didn’t rape any of them, nor did Bibi. I have learned that for some powerful alpha men, have powerful sexual drives. Probably a good thing for populating the species for more powerful offspring.

    You can see this in lower species as well when one stallion will have a herd of mares, or one stag will have a herd of does. Those powerful males just can’t help it. In the Bible, men were allowed more than one wife, probably because of this trait.

    • #10
    • January 6, 2019 at 10:20 am
    • 1 like
  11. Member

    Columbo (View Comment):

    My Brother! We are the international fellowship of Christians and Jews! Let us together make America and Israel great again! Let us put those liberal socialists in their place!

    Um… I am actually a long-time member of an Organisation called The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. 

    • #11
    • January 6, 2019 at 10:47 am
    • 3 likes
  12. Inactive
    Gil Reich Post author

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    Thank you Gil, I have always admired Bibi since that raid when his brother was killed. I always believed he would make a great P.M. And the fact that President Trump has some of the same determinations of Bibi had/has is an admirable trait, and his escapes can be forgiven. At least he didn’t rape any of them, nor did Bibi. I have learned that for some powerful alpha men, have powerful sexual drives. Probably a good thing for populating the species for more powerful offspring.

    You can see this in lower species as well when one stallion will have a herd of mares, or one stag will have a herd of does. Those powerful males just can’t help it. In the Bible, men were allowed more than one wife, probably because of this trait.

    Thanks. I agree these men likely have very powerful drives, but I think they still can and must control it, and are punished severely when they don’t. King David’s punishment for the crime and the horrifying cover-up includes having 4 of his sons die tragically. And the Bible didn’t end the practice of polygamy, but its stories show terrible consequences from these marriages, and its laws greatly protect the first wife and her children, removing much of a man’s ability to attract a second wife.

    • #12
    • January 6, 2019 at 11:06 am
    • 6 likes
  13. Contributor

    You mentioned twice the potential of his going to jail, Gil. In reading Caroline Glick’s stories, those set against him sound pretty determined. Do you have any idea about the odds of his being jailed?

    • #13
    • January 6, 2019 at 1:28 pm
    • Like
  14. Inactive
    Gil Reich Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    You mentioned twice the potential of his going to jail, Gil. In reading Caroline Glick’s stories, those set against him sound pretty determined. Do you have any idea about the odds of his being jailed?

    My wild guess is 50-50 chance that Bibi has to step down because of legal issues within the next few years. This is just my sense of how the wind is blowing and how people are acting. I have no idea whether or not the charges have merit. My sense is that Bibi is less corrupt and more careful than your average politician, that he’s far from clean, aggressive prosecutors may be able to get him on something, but that under equal application of the law he wouldn’t be near the top of the list of politicians who should be prosecuted. But again, that’s just my sense, and I’m not following his legal issues closely enough to offer an informed opinion. 

    • #14
    • January 6, 2019 at 2:47 pm
    • 4 likes
  15. Member

    Gil Reich: Europeans are realizing that the post-national project to protect Europe from Germany simply handed Europe to Germany.

    So many Republicans are so dumb about this stuff and everything related. It’s eye opening. 

    • #15
    • January 7, 2019 at 6:32 am
    • 2 likes