Incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not just coming back to office after he was unfairly pushed out; he is also taking down the entrenched “deep state” that tried to get rid of him, and nearly did so.
Netanyahu’s approach, while shocking to the left-leaning Israeli media, suggests a model for any future U.S. Republican administration, and shows what Trump might yet achieve, if he has not destroyed his chances.
To recap: Netanyahu first served from 1996 to 1999, elected after a backlash against the left-wing Labor Party’s concessions to the Palestinians. When he made similar deals, under U.S. pressure, he lost the next election.
Rather than react in bitterness, Netanyahu came back several years later as the finance minister under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He carried out sweeping free market reforms that made Israel a global economic leader.
He resigned from Sharon’s government in protest against the “disengagement,” when Israel unilaterally gave the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, who promptly turned it into a launching pad for terror attacks against Israel.
He then won the 2009 election, largely on promises to oppose the anti-Israel policies of the new Barack Obama administration in the U.S. He did that, then worked with Donald Trump to transform the entire Middle East.
But Israel’s entrenched interests wanted him gone. Netanyahu upset the Israeli establishment: he hurt the monopolies whose power depended on socialist policies; he sided with religious parties over secularists.
Therefore he was targeted with flimsy charges of corruption that collapsed under the scrutiny of the judicial process. Worse, the police abused their surveillance powers to pressure witnesses to testify against him.
Netanyahu was also double-crossed by a small conservative party, denying him a governing majority. Though his Likud was the largest party in four successive elections, a coalition of smaller parties ousted him last year.
Initially, Netanyahu’s rhetoric seemed to echo that of Trump. Both claimed that they had been cheated out of reelection — though Netanyahu stressed the overall circumstances rather than alleged fraud at the ballot box.
But Netanyahu accepted his new role as the leader of the opposition, and used it to exert constant pressure on the new government, which broke various promises it made to voters and slowly alienated its own members.
Netanyahu won the recent elections with the support of a coalition of right-wing parties. Now, with a solid governing majority for the first time in many years, he is rooting out the centers of establishment power.
He is starting with the judiciary, reining in the power of activist judges to strike down laws, which left-wing judges have allegedly abused. He is also planning to reform the police, who have operated without oversight.
He is also planning to divide up the education ministry, where activists — as in the U.S. — have used their control over the curriculum to impose a set of postmodern values that devalue patriotism and tradition.
Israeli pundits are not just asking questions and challenging Netanyahu’s arguments — as they should — but throwing a tantrum, declaring his reforms are the “end of democracy,” though they are the result of an election.
Netanyahu is reassuring them — keeping Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade, for example — while making sure Israel’s “deep state” can never again destroy a democratic government. Republicans should take careful notes.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.