By Ron Jager
In recent years, the state of Israel has become unstoppable in its march towards economic success, technological innovation, food and agricultural production, military superiority, and the emerging public alliance with the Arab Sunni nations in the Middle East. Most Israelis have responded in poll after poll that they are very satisfied with their standard of living and quality of life in Israel.
The periodic security lapses in the south of Israel disrupt the daily routines of Israelis living in these peripheral areas, yet usually end within a few days, allowing us Israelis to move on. Israelis are incredibly optimistic about Israel’s future and do not anticipate any realistic existential threat challenging the state of Israel. The one politician most associated with this modern-day success story in Israel is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel’s old guard and liberal elite have never accepted Netanyahu nor given him any semblance of political legitimacy from day one of his incumbency. A former Israeli prime minister who knows Netanyahu recently said: “In the end, and maybe right from the very beginning, he was not one of us. Don’t just look at his biography,” he explained. “Look at his mindset, his values, and his modus operandi. He is a dark, pessimistic, frightened, anxious diaspora Jew who behaves as if he doesn’t know or totally fails to appreciate how strong Israel really is. This is the core of his personality,” the former Prime Minister went on. “In his heart and mind, he is an American; his preferred language is English, not Hebrew.” But he doesn’t fit America, either. “He hates liberal American Jews just as much as he hates the ‘leftist’ founders of the State of Israel.”
This rejection of Netanyahu as “one of us” seems incredulous when you remind his detractors of the fact that his brother Yoni Netanyahu was killed during the Entebbe rescue raid or the fact that Netanyahu himself served in the same Sayeret Matkal (Israel’s elite special forces unit) as an officer and risked his life again and again over a number of years. What once was considered as the ultimate litmus test of Israeli patriotism is not applicable in Netanyahu’s case, with his military service delegated to an irrelevant biographical footnote.
Despite the knee-jerk reaction of the old guard and their eager media cohorts enlisted to weaken public support of Netanyahu, historians and political scientists may very well depict the Netanyahu era in an entirely different and positive perspective. Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister who gave Israel unparalleled prosperity and stability during an extended and complicated period in which Israel was transformed under his watch into a world leader. Netanyahu may very well be personally associated with and depicted as having an indispensable role in Israel’s security and success.
Those on the other side of the aisle insist on labeling Netanyahu as a victim of his own doings, of digging his own political grave. They will claim that the current period that culminated in the attorney general handing down three indictments is not because he is a victim of the “deep state” or a victim of a “prosecution within the state prosecution,” but because he is guilty as charged irrespective of due process. They will claim that he is not a victim of a hostile, vindictive, organized biased media that manufactures fake news and fake narratives. They will ignore a media bias that is largely a function of a self-imposed insularity among journalists due to the fact that everyone they worked with and socialized with held the same anti-Netanyahu agenda. They will deny that most media reporters weren’t even fully aware they were prejudiced politically. The media and press in Israel has embraced its bias and declared its allegiance to one side of the political war that has been going on for the past decade, culminating with the indictment charges against Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s political opponents would be wise to hold off on the obituaries claiming the end of the Benjamin Netanyahu era. As opposed to his political opponents, Netanyahu has the tenacity and sustainability often found among many in the Special Forces who are trained in survivability under all circumstances and in enemy territory; this allegory is similar to Netanyahu’s political reality today and says much about his personality and personal constitution.
The people of Israel elected Benjamin Netanyahu, and it is unacceptable that a cabal of unelected civil servants supported by the mainstream media might nullify the legitimacy of his electoral successes. This is why I support the prime minister unequivocally and without hesitation against his many political challengers. The demand that he end his political career in such a disgraceful manner is unacceptable, not only from a personal perspective but more so because of the political danger inherent for future prime ministers. The basic law in Israel and even the attorney general both enable Benjamin Netanyahu to continue as Israel’s prime minister. Forcing him to leave his position prematurely will only empower future unelected civil servants and media organizations to unseat future prime ministers who don’t follow the political agendas of those who don’t represent the choices of the sovereign, the people of the State of Israel.
Should Netanyahu be edged out in this manner, no future prime minister will ever be safe from being subject to a similar campaign of demonization and delegitimization.
Ron Jager grew up in the South Bronx of New York, making Aliyah in 1980. Ron is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Ron served as a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.