Home news Election victory - Like a king - Politics

Election victory – Like a king – Politics

Benjamin Netanyahu has helped his right-wing populist positions – and the fact that no Israeli politician has as much security policy experience as he.


From Alexandra Föderl-Schmid

Benjamin Netanyahu was a stopgap. Actually, according to the will of his father Benzion, he should not go into politics, but his older brother. But Yoni died as commander of an elite unit in the liberation of abducted air passengers in Uganda Entebbe in 1976. In Israel, he is considered a hero, his story knows every child. Benjamin Netanyahu performed in public for the first time at the memorial service on Jerusalem's Herzlberg. At that time he was still a student and called himself Ben Nitay. Only later did he become Bibi – as friend and foe alike call him.

His father, a professor of Jewish history, moved to the US with the family. In Israel, which was then dominated by the Labor Party, the radical Zionist felt persecuted because of his views – the victim role should later take his son frequently. Benzion Netanyahu stood up for Greater Israel, saying disparagingly about Palestinians: "The inclination to quarrel lies in the nature of the Arabs, you are the born enemy."

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From his younger son, who returned to Israel after a few years in the diplomatic service in 1988, he seemed to have no good opinion. The documentary filmmaker Dan Shadur, who has long been concerned with Netanyahu's rise, shows in a movie a significant scene from the year 2009: The then almost one hundred years father should campaign in a campaign spot for the son, the front man of the right-national Likud. "In the current situation, he would be the best prime minister," says the old man – and his already almost 60-year-old son stands next to this not exactly euphoric recommendation like a schoolboy.

Won second

Benjamin Netanyahu was second only at the time, but it was he who led a coalition. It took him ten years to get back to the top. He had won the election in 1996, but lost three years later – to a former chief of staff, Ehud Barak. Two decades later, Netanyahu faced three former chiefs of staff and pulled out all the stops to keep from losing.

He had learned to deal with the media early on. In his MA thesis at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1976, he studied the computerization of the press and predicted that anyone with a lot of money could start his own newspaper. He himself later opened a television channel on Facebook, early on social media and thus the direct approach of the citizens, without having to ask critical questions from journalists. He became the first representative of modern right-wing populism, as politicians like Viktor Orbán or Matteo Salvini cultivate.

He was warmly disliked by Clinton and Obama, and Bush was not so serious

With the slogan "Netanyahu – create a secure peace" he started in 1996 and won. After that, he negotiated with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat the Wye agreement to withdraw troops from the Israeli forces from the West Bank, but at the same time he lifted the freeze on settlements.

He was a reciprocal aversion to US presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and did not seem to take George W. Bush seriously. With Donald Trump, a partner then moved to the White House according to his taste. Both are married for the third time, both stand for populism and nationalism, both attack the left and the media, both speak of "witch hunts" when they see themselves attacked.

Netanyahu considers himself an irreplaceable politician

Those who know Netanyahu better, such as former journalist and current opposition politician Jair Lapid, call 2015 a turning point: from then on, Netanyahu has become a politician who believes he is infallible and irreplaceable. With his wife Sara, who rarely leaves his side, he has started to understand the state as a self-service shop and to let it go away. Those who stood in his way, not only in politics, were defamed.

That he wants to accuse the Attorney General of corruption, Netanyahu feels as an imposition in view of what he has done for the state. With his argument that it was trivial, the 69-year-old has apparently permeated voters. Many Israelis have been persuaded that no one else has much experience to ensure the security of the country. The majority allowed him a fifth term with the best for him Likud result. In July he will even have been in office longer than state founder David Ben Gurion. "He's just the smartest politician ever to exist in Israel," says political scientist Jonathan Rynhold. For the filmmaker Shadur, Bibi worship in Israel already has "monarchical features". That's why he called his movie "King Bibi".

Politics Israel Netanyahu's victory has a high price

Netanyahu's victory has a high price

The prime minister will probably remain in office. He has split Israel, radicalized it and isolated it internationally. But the political trend is now working against him.Comment by Stefan Kornelius


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