On the eve of his historic, controversial, and critically-important address to Congress next week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a small-ball political barrage in Israel. His party, the Likud, lost a challenge against a U.S.-funded left-wing group, V15. The Prime Minister is being investigated for allegedly pocketing the deposits on beverages served at his residence, and his rivals are blaming him for rising housing prices in Israel, documented in a new report.
It is all small-ball stuff ahead of the election, which is on Mar. 17. Netanyahu is still likely to be re-elected, since the parties of the likely right-wing coalition are still polling well ahead of the parties of the parties of a likely left-wing coalition. But much depends on the actual result, and on who Israel’s ceremonial president, Reuven Rivlin, taps to make the first post-election effort at forming a government. Rivlin is conservative, but has also been critical of Netanyahu’s upcoming speech.
An observer of Israeli politics is struck by how petty it all seems. With Iran encamping its soldiers on Israel’s borders, and preparing to become a borderline nuclear power–deal or no deal–plus the armies of ISIS menacing the region, it would seem obvious that national security should be paramount. That is where Netanyahu has focused his message, while his main opponents, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni in their “Zionist Union” coalition, have downplayed national security issues.
To judge from reports in the Israeli media, voters are reacting to the temptations of “shiny object” politics. And it is quite possible that small-ball–the trademark of Obama’s 2012 campaign–could bring Netanyahu down. It is fashionable among U.S. conservatives to compare Netanyahu to Winston Churchill. But Churchill made it through the war before being dumped. Bibi still has that high hurdle to clear. If he fails, Israel may be in unsteady hands. And then–God only knows.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the forthcoming ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak