Washington Post columnist David Rothkopf on Sunday cleverly described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so readers might mistake him for another head of state: “His former top aides have said that he is unfit for office. He is surrounded by a swirl of scandal. His family is not helping matters, with crazy statements that are intended to be supportive but just make matters worse. He is dependent on the far right and is so politically vulnerable that he is making decisions that put his entire country at risk. He has targeted groups on the basis of religion and background, which could lead to great unrest. You look at his record and you start wondering if he is drawn to the extremists because he really is one.”
Yes, you guessed it, Rothkopf attempted to show how Netanyahu is President Donald Trump’s Doppelganger, concluding that “In any event, he has brought his country’s democracy to a moment of crisis — one that has profound international ramifications.”
Here are a few problems with these clever comparisons: they don’t hold water at all, unless by “former top aides” you mean desperate political enemies who used to be very happy to work for him, such as the late Meir Dagan, and former Defense Ministers Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon; by “surrounded by a swirl of scandal” you mean fierce demands from Ha’aretz that a reluctant prosecution indict him in cases they are not sure they can win; by “crazy statements” you mean a post by his son about Antifa in Charlottesville; by “the far right” and “extremists” you mean a 65-member majority coalition; by targeting “on the basis of religion and background” you mean he identifies with the fears of the vast majority of Israeli Jews of their Arab neighbors going Jihadi; and by “brought his country’s democracy to a moment of crisis” you mean attempted to enforce the rule of law.
Rothkopf proves that you don’t have to be vicious and intentionally misinforming to be a leftist, but it certainly helps. Using his cheap, entirely fabricated comparisons, he manages to equate the US President, who, to be generous, represents a frontal attack on the American presidency, with a savvy Israeli politician who has governed his country successfully to unprecedented security and prosperity from well within the political establishment.
Rothkopf’s attack is so bereft of fact and so dependent entirely on the ways the author maligns facts and impressions about Israel’s tough issues, one must wonder from which yard this cat has dragged his other gifts into the house:
In “‘A’ Jewish State vs. ‘The’ Jewish State,” published in Foreign Policy in May 2014, Rothkopf wrote: “J Street is not an aberration. J Street is a reaction to that new narrative and to the perceived excesses of AIPAC and the reflexively pro-Israeli community in the US Reflex was my first instinct for supporting Israel. But it is not sustainable if you have a truly Jewish mind … a mind linked to a tradition of ‘struggling’ with even the Highest Power. Ideas and beliefs have to be tested against a reality. Today there are other safe places for Jews in the world, notably America. Today there are other ways for Jews to live and be true to their traditions that don’t involve the harsher realities of a garrison state.”
And: “Something new is needed — a new paradigm, a new narrative. One in which Israel needs to lead alongside a Palestinian state. One in which Israel must be the most committed of all nations to the success of its neighbors. One in which Israel can’t rely on its traditional relationship with the United States and must make new ties that are based less on history, that are less reflexive, that demand more adjustment, flexibility, and creativity.”
Viewed from our perch point in the summer of 2017, these two paragraphs might as well have been written by the man on the moon: Israel is a garrison state from which Jews must flee in order to regain their authentic Jewishness, and, at the same time, Israel must accomplish the dream of a peaceful co-existence with the noble people of free Palestine, according to Rothkopf.
Nothing a weekend in Charlottesville and a visit from ISIS in Brussels couldn’t fix…
Then there was this marvel of insight and prophecy: “The Last Act of Obama’s Israel Drama May Be His Best” from December 2016, where he suggested that “despite their momentary ascendancy, Bibi, Trump, and Putin are yesterday’s men,” and “The Israeli government’s settlement policy puts it on the wrong side of history, justice, demography, the law, its own interests — and therefore the interests of its friends and allies.”
Which suggests that it’s actually David Rothkopf who is yesterday’s man. At least as it pertains to Israel’s ability to pursue a relentless policy to prevent the possibility of a Palestinian State, never mind the wholesale removal of half a million Jews from Judea and Samaria.
In Sunday’s op-ed, he tries to pin on Netanyahu even the neo-Nazis and KKK marchers from Charlottesville: “Shockingly, echoing Trump, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the Jewish people took days to release a brief statement about the anti-Semitism in the streets of Charlottesville, and he said nothing about Trump’s effective defense of those anti-Semites.”
Spoken like a true Jewish American liberal: the Prime Minister of Israel must follow my political preferences or else he might as well be a collaborator with the white supremacists.
“In other words,” writes Rothkopf, “Bibi apparently cares more about his political survival (both he and Trump have underwater poll numbers) than he does about the well-being of the Jewish people he has taken it upon himself to ‘represent.’ For the record, he sure doesn’t represent me.”
A few corrections on that last one: Bibi just scored 34 Likud seats in last Friday’s survey, leaving the leftwing competition gasping for air – check your facts, Rothkopf; next, Bibi and his government are spending millions to engage American Jews in an Aliyah effort, for just that moment when said Jews realize they’re under water; and, for the record, regarding whether Bibi represents you – we’re sure the feeling is mutual.