+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Netanyahu is not Ben-Gurion, and 2015 is not 1948

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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands in front of a portrait of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands in front of a portrait of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

It is also worth noting that the comparison between Netanyahu in 2015 and Ben-Gurion in post-WWII 1948 is way off. While it is true that Ben-Gurion and others in pre-state era pushed hard against international reservations to form the state of Israel, U.S. President Harry Truman actually supported the UN partition plan in 1947; the U.S. was the first country to give de facto recognition to the State of Israel after Ben-Gurion declared independence on May 15, 1948 (followed by Iran, ironically. The Soviet Union was the first country to give de jure recognition to Israel on May 17).

Since Netanyahu is trying to give Americans a history lesson, here is another one that highlights the difference between him and Ben-Gurion: Netanyahu recently said that he must go to Congress because he represents not only Israelis but the entire Jewish people. While Ben-Gurion was adamant that Zionism meant Jews moving to Israel — and stressed as much to the American Jewish Community — he was quickly forced to correct himself in 1950, after Jacob Blaustein, head of the American Jewish Congress (then a non-Zionist organization), made clear that Israel does not and will never speak for Jews in America.

Here is what Ben-Gurion stated as part of the Blaustein-Ben-Gurion agreement from August 23, 1950:

The Jews of the United States, as a community and as individuals, have only one political attachment and that is to the United States of America. They owe no political allegiance to Israel. In the first statement which the representative of Israel made before the United Nations after her admission to that international organization, he clearly stated, without any reservation, that the State of Israel represents and speaks only on behalf of its own citizens, and in no way presumes to represent or speak in the name of the Jews who are citizens of any other country. We, the people of Israel, have no desire and no intention to interfere in any way with the internal affairs of Jewish communities abroad. The Government and the people of Israel fully respect the right and integrity of the Jewish communities in other countries to develop their own mode of life and their indigenous social, economic and cultural institutions in accordance with their own needs and aspirations. Any weakening of American Jewry, any disruption of its communal life, any lowering of its status, is a definite loss to Jews everywhere and to Israel in particular

Netanyahu is not using the Congress speech for his election campaign. Instead, he is using it to serve his megalomaniac vision of being the global Jewish savior of modern times.

Related:
Netanyahu campaign video: A victory for the Left means an ISIS invasion
Netanyahu is losing it

Election Coverage banner

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Sheikh Yahudi

      If the video is intended for an American audience why is it in Hebrew and not in English? By the way, there is a country in the Middle East that has a stated policy of destroying Israel. And that very country wants to acquire nuclear weapons. But that fact has nothing to do with Netanyahu’s efforts, he is just a megalomaniac!

      Reply to Comment
      • Cheema Khaled

        If Iran wants to destroy Israel so much then why is Israel for many years constantly planning on attacking Iran?? (including the 40,000 Persian Jews living in Iran.)

        If anyone is doing the threatening day and night, it’s Israel.

        Reply to Comment
        • C.C. DeVille

          You may want to update your propoganda; latest estimates suggest that you inflated the number of Jews by a factor of 4.

          To answer your question, you only need to understand the concept of pre-emptive remedies. The solution of the Iraqi nuclear capacity for example. Such an active likely saved 10,000s of lives; most of them arab

          Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        YES you definitely ARE correct:

        Satanyahoo IS “just a megalomaniac”.

        Although his highness “Field-Marshall” Bibi has made a hugely arrogant MISTAKE by “appointing” himself the exclusive and sole representative of Jews all around the world.

        He does NOT represent THIS JEW and certainly does NOT represent Moderate Jews here in the US who are embarrassed by Israel’s endless brutal occupation, and sadistic leaders.

        Reply to Comment
        • Shekh Yahudi

          Embarrassed? It seems that some people love being “embarrassed.” Perhaps, embarrassment is not the right term. I prefer to use the term “self-righteous.”

          Reply to Comment
          • Weiss

            To even speculate that ANYONE enjoys being embarrassed, is one of the most absurd things I have ever heard.
            And re-defining embarrassment as “self-righteousness” borders on insanity.

            No wonder you can’t comprehend that Israel has become a Fascist State right before your very own eyes…

            Reply to Comment
        • Baladi Akka 1948

          Do you really have to point out in every comment that you’re a Jew ? We might get the impression that it’s some-kind of ‘false-flag’ …

          Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      In 1941 Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain addressed the members of the Canadian House of Parliament. In his speech he told the members of Parliament that he had a discussion with French generals in which he said Britain would fight on alone no matter what the French did. The French told him that Britain’s neck would be wrung like a chicken in three weeks if it tried to stand up to Germany. Churchill replied “some chicken, some neck.”

      In the end many more French necks, including those of France’s Jewry, were wrung than of the British.

      In this case, the neck belongs to Israel and Netanyahu is fighting to make sure that Israel’s neck is not wrung because the American administration of Barack Obama wants a deal with Iran at any price.

      There is no doubt that the crusty Ben Gurion would be doing the same thing as Benjamin Netanyahu. Ben Gurion attacked his opponents without mercy. He militarily defeated the Irgun when it tried to keep its own army. He fought the Americans when the American administration threatened to change its position over Israel’s independence. He fought Jordan and the combined might of the Arab world than give into losing the Jewish state of Israel.

      David Horowitz has a very good opinion piece at the Times of Israel and is worth reading.

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/divided-over-that-speech-not-over-a-lousy-deal-with-iran/

      Reply to Comment
    3. Jello

      What you are saying is that Bibi is driven by a sense of mission to serve and protect the Jewish people from threats. Indeed, this is a horrible horrible quality for the leader of the Jewish State.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Average American

      No, Milekowsky is not Grun and neither one’s family is from Israel. Actually both are fanatic nationalist Zionists so there’s something in common.

      Reply to Comment