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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776
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Understanding Real Israeli Politics


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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

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Then there are various centrist good-government style parties that are likely to take votes from Labor and from each other, notably the new party of Yair Lapid, whose father was also a journalist who also started a failed centrist, good-government and secularist party.

As I’ve often remarked, there is no country in the world about which people think they know more and that they actually know less. We often focus on bias but ignorance is equally important.

There are three key factors necessary to understand contemporary Israeli politics.

First, Netanyahu is not seen by the electorate generally as being right-wing and hawkish but as being centrist. He has successfully been developing this posture now for about fifteen years without much of the Western media appearing to notice.

Second, Israelis don’t really see the likelihood that different policies are going to make lots of Arabs and Muslims love Israel, or bring peace with the Palestinians, or end the vilification of Israel by the left. All of those things were tried by means of Israel taking high risks and making big concessions during the 1992-2000 period. Israelis remember, even if others don’t, that this strategy doesn’t work.

Third, there is no other politician who is attractive as an alternative prime minister.

We now know that President Barack Obama’s administration thought that he was going to overturn Netanyahu and bring Livni to power on a platform of giving up a lot more to the Palestinians on the hope that this would bring peace. The editorial pages of American newspapers and alleged experts still advocate this basic strategy. They couldn’t possibly be less connected to reality.

Barry Rubin

About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.


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