Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Post-Victory Wither Bibi Netanyahu?
Netanyahu's victory in the Likud primaries was inevitable but the real challenge has only begun. Netanyahu now faces a dilemma primarily of his own making, he is a statesman adept at making speeches and poor at actually committing to the resolve necessary to see himself and the nation through tough times.
The Israeli public today is more dissatisfied with their government than at any time in the past, even including the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. The one thing the man in the street agrees on is that it's time for a change. All that is required is someone credible to step forward and make that change from a slogan into reality.
Before Oslo plenty of left wing activists had dreamed of an accord with Arafat. But it was as implausible and as improbable a policy then as Israel reconquering Gaza and the West Bank would be today. What made it real is that prominent Israeli statesmen like Rabin and Peres were able to see it through by acting as if it was inevitable. If the impossible is to happen twice, if Israel is to end the Palestinian experiment, then Netanyahu must learn from Rabin and Peres and commit calmly and transparently to a reconquest of Israel.
Those most afraid of a change are those in power. That is why this government continues to remain in power and the Knesset still sits. For now no real effort has been mounted to remove them and so the same corrupt asses hold down the same grimy Knesset seats and the same parties squabble and make their dirty deals disdaining the public will which they feel free to ignore.
To win Netanyahu will have to do more than show up and make speeches. He will have to fight an uphill battle. Yet Netanyahu has spent too much of his political career playing it safe. His campaign thus far has consisted of simply showing up. It might be enough to win the next election but not with a solid majority. And with all sorts of third parties like Gaydamak's likely to leap into the fray, the next Knesset is likely to be even worse than this one.
The reality is that few people inside Israel like Netanyahu. But that's okay. No one in England much liked Churchill. Netanyahu makes speeches like Churchill but he doesn't act on them. Netanyahu's last chance rests on an ability to do more than talk but to lead by setting out two clear alternatives, the path of continued compromise and a long bloody struggle of negotiating tables and battlefields inside Israel itself or a single decisive campaign to destroy the terrorist presence within Israel and demonstrate to Israel's enemies that the nation stands ready to fight against all who would do it harm.