The Israeli prime minister is not using his Congress speech to gain votes in this election, rather, he is using his election campaign to gain favor for the Congress speech and serve his megalomaniac vision of being the savior of Jews worldwide.
Netanyahu’s recent campaign video, released Saturday night, has nothing to do with the Israeli election and certainly does not target the Israeli voter. It is intended for U.S. President Barack Obama, the White House, American Jews and more broadly, U.S. Democrats.
The video compares David Ben-Gurion’s decision to declare independence in 1948 over the objections of then U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, with Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress, behind the backs of Obama and Kerry amid the deeper rift with the White House and State Department.
“Would we be here today if Ben-Gurion hadn’t done the right thing?” the video asks, implying that if the first prime minister of Israel hadn’t stood up to the U.S. there would be no Jewish state. This perfectly serves Netanyahu’s message that any deal with Iran is an existential threat to Israel — on par with the very establishment of the country.
Netanyahu posted the video on his Facebook page along with the message: “Congress is the only place where a bad deal can be stopped. It is the right and essential thing to do to safeguard Israel’s security and existence.”
However, most Israelis don’t really care about the speech in Washington, and it most likely won’t affect Netanyahu’s votes. Likud voters aren’t going to turn away from the party and I’d even wager that most rightists admire Netanyahu for standing up to Obama. On the other hand, the Israelis who are concerned about the deepening conflict with the U.S. already disagree with Netanyahu’s approach to diplomacy, which has increasingly isolated Israel.
Netanyahu knows this. This latest clip isn’t an election campaign video. It is a foreign policy stunt aimed at softening the backlash from Washington, American Jews and Democrats alike. It is an attempt to regain bipartisanship on the Iran issue by reminding people that Israel is an unstable country that has to go it alone against all odds. Presumably, Netanyahu hopes he can score some points among liberal Americans who associate Ben-Gurion with the Israel they knew and love — the Israel that was respectful of its allies.
It is also worth noting that the comparison...Read More