Ever since Donald Trump grew to become President, Israeli critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have pointed to unflattering similarities between the 2 males.
Each are right-wing populists who bully the media, are dogged by corruption scandals and forged themselves as victims of an elite institution. Each have used concern and hatred to sow divisions of their societies and win elections.
However Netanyahu isn’t any Trump.
For starters, he’s skilled, competent . Bibi, as Israelis name him, has spent his life in public service, from his stint in an elite Israel Protection Forces unit to his first actual job in politics, as deputy chief of mission at Israel’s Embassy in Washington within the 1980s.
Bibi gained his first election as prime minister in 1996, and three extra since. If he manages to serve out the remainder of this time period, he’ll change into Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, eclipsing the tenure of founding father David Ben-Gurion.
Below Bibi’s stewardship, Israel’s financial system has thrived and its safety has held quick, regardless of evolving threats from Hamas-led Gaza, the chaos in Syria and the ascendance of Iran throughout the area.
On the identical time, there may be rising unease in Israel about Netanyahu’s management and the legacy it’s leaving.
In his final election, in 2015, Netanyahu’s marketing campaign advertisements depicted Israel’s left wing as enemies of the state, and he promotes insurance policies that replicate that harmful view. Netanyahu champions legal guidelines sanctioning human-rights organizations vital of Israeli coverage, sparking concern that he’s undermining Israel’s democracy by searching for to outlaw dissent.
His assaults on Israel’s courts, together with assist for a regulation that might give the Knesset supremacy over Israel’s Excessive Court docket, threat making Israel a spot the place there aren’t any basic legal guidelines or inalienable rights, simply majority rule.
Then there are the scandals. Corruption: Police have advisable that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud and bribery. Unseemly conduct by members of the family: His spouse was fined for verbally and emotionally abusing the home assist, and his son allegedly flipped somebody the fowl for insisting he clear up his canine’s poop.
Final week, Netanyahu was accused of politicizing Israeli Independence Day by insisting on a talking slot through the annual nationwide torch-lighting ceremony historically reserved for celebrating the accomplishments of abnormal Israelis.
When, after a lot negotiation and bullying by his tradition minister, Miri Regev, Netanyahu received a slot, he proceeded to disregard protocol and a dedication to maintain his remarks transient by delivering a speech extensively panned as self-aggrandizing and political.
When actress Natalie Portman introduced a couple of days in the past that she couldn’t in good conscience go to “any public occasions in Israel” to obtain a $1 million prize meant to have fun the accomplishments of well-known Jews, Portman was rapidly denounced by quite a lot of Israelis and American Jews as a shill for the BDS motion — which goals to make use of boycotts, divestment and sanctions as cudgels in opposition to Israel.
“I used to be unhappy to listen to that Portman fell like a ripe fruit into the palms of BDS supporters,” Regev mentioned.
Portman’s views on Israel are “absurd, uninformed, inaccurate, harmful,” mentioned the president of the Zionist Group of America, Morton Klein.
Nevertheless, the notion that Portman, an Israeli-born actress who speaks fluent Hebrew and has a deep, abiding and private relationship with Israel, is uninformed was itself absurd. Certainly, inside hours, Portman clarified that her fundamental purpose for declining to take part within the Genesis Prize awards ceremony was due to Netanyahu.
“I selected to not attend as a result of I didn’t wish to seem as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech on the ceremony,” Portman mentioned in a press release posted on Instagram. “By the identical token, I’m not a part of the BDS motion and don’t endorse it.”
Put merely, Portman didn’t need Netanyahu to do the identical factor to the Genesis Prize ceremony that he did to the Independence Day ceremony. Her announcement was an indication of her devotion to Israel, not her hostility to it.
Portman, who has greater than only a passing relationship to Israel, cares deeply about Israel’s future. Her refusal to countenance what Netanyahu is doing to Israeli politics and society deserves reward from those that care about Israel, not condemnation.