November 6, 2015


Netanyahu Needs to Stop Making Unforced Errors : In an unbalanced playing field, Israel's Prime Minister can ill afford to continue provoking unnecessary scandals (Yair Rosenberg, 11/06/15, Tablet)

 Of late, Netanyahu has repeatedly managed to make major unforced errors that have turned an unflattering spotlight on himself and his country. Most recently, the prime minister was forced to retract an incorrect claim that the former Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had not simply collaborated with Hitler, but actually gave the German leader the idea for the Final Solution itself. For days, the media was flush with stories of Bibi's factual faux pas, at a time when innocent Israelis were being stabbed in the streets. It takes talent to take the undisputed fact that a venerated Palestinian leader supported Hitler and turn it into an anti-Israel storyline, but in his hyperbole, Netanyahu managed it.

Now, these damaging miscues don't happen in a vacuum. There are people involved at every step of the process, from Netanyahu's personal advisers to his speechwriters. Yet at no point did any of these individuals raise eyebrows at Baratz's appointment, or Netanyahu's Mufti remarks. This is because Netanyahu increasingly inhabits an ideological bubble of close allies and confidants, and few others, as the Times of Israel's Haviv Rettig Gur has reported. While Netanyahu is open to criticism from this small circle of trust, in practice, it largely includes the like-minded, who are unlikely to question him.

This state of affairs explains why Netanyahu made the disastrous decision to address Congress on the Iran deal. The prime minister's words had essentially no chance of affecting the outcome of the deal, harmed U.S.-Israel relations, and ultimately served as an excellent pretext for the administration to rally Democrats behind their president and the accord. Had Netanyahu consulted many of Israel's friends in America, from right to left, they would have told him as much. (Among others, pro-Israel stalwarts and former George W. Bush officials Dov Zakheim and Adam Garfinkle both advised against the speech after it was announced, as did neoconservative leading light Robert Kagan.) But instead, even Netanyahu's own National Security Advisor was not consulted in the decision. As such, there was no one to push back on the idea until it was too late, and it was drawing fire even on FOX News.

Posted by at November 6, 2015 11:18 AM