Opinion: Netanyahu just pulled from Trump’s playbook. it won’t help him


“We are witnessing the biggest electoral fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy,” he told In a meeting with his Likud faction. sounds familiar?

So does the next bit. “We, my friends and I in Likud, we will vehemently oppose the establishment of this dangerous government of fraud and surrender,” roared Netanyahu.

But he was also ready to accept at least a temporary defeat. “And if God forbids it to stand still, we’ll bring it down very soon.”

Given the similarities in Netanyahu and Trump’s rhetoric, it’s worth asking: Is Israel about to face its own January 6, with thousands of armed right-wing militia members storming the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, before the new government comes to power. likely to take oath on Sunday?
Maybe not. However, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, felt the need Especially on Saturday night for issuing a rare public warning against toxic discourse and incitement to violence on social media.

However, there are no signs of any comprehensive plan to physically disrupt the transfer of power later this week. But even though Israel has been shielded from the spectacle of insurgency like Capitol Hill, the resilience of its democracy has been tested in the years since the Netanyahu era, and like the US, its core institutions have had to fight back and protect is the basic principle.

Of course, Netanyahu and the rest of his allies will continue Pressure on potential defectors of the new coalition, as they have been doing for weeks. but the edge oral misuse — in protests online and outside politicians’ homes — together prudent temptation The wavering members of the new government are unlikely to move on. And so far, at least, it seems to have failed.

It looks like Netanyahu, unless he convinces a surprise defector, will step down next week peacefully but without grace. A second populist leader forced to step down after a difficult election (in Israel’s case, followed by four consecutive elections) within six months should be instructive.

What the current wave of populist leaders around the world share is their populist rhetoric of “we” – “people” versus “establishment” – “elite traitors” and their “foreign” supporters. They also share an innate ability to identify phobias and resentment of their base, and are adept at provoking them—creating an angry alliance of fear, loss of privilege, and disenfranchisement.

Beyond that, though, every populist is different.

Unlike Trump, Netanyahu is both a professional politician and an intellectual. In this way he managed to make a political comeback – despite earlier shocks and losing his career, defying predictions of pundits and elections, and eventually became Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
In this way he succeeded in changing a diplomatic paradigm – the belief that Israel would never be able to enjoy economic prosperity and have strong ties with countries in the region and around the world, if it decided to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians. Necessary concessions were not given. , proved to be false. Israel’s economy has grown and, with the help of the Trump administration, Netanyahu made peace With many Arab and Muslim neighbors.

For Netanyahu, populism is just a tool used for electoral purposes. However, there is a sophisticated and well thought-out strategy behind it.

But his strategy to hold on to power ultimately failed, as did Trump’s populism, because it did not take into account the resilience of Israel’s democracy-defending institutions – the legal establishment, the media and the electoral system. He tried to destroy each of these and was only partially successful.

Netanyahu appears to have gotten away with it by appointing a friendly attorney general and a convenient national police commissioner. investigation and prosecution. But in both cases, his professionalism – and that of his teams – won out. His alleged corruption came to the fore. Netanyahu despite still in office Is charged and is on trial for charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. (He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.)
He allegedly tried To bully both journalists and their publishers. He encouraged Assistant tycoons, like the late Sheldon Adelson, set up their own newspapers and stations in the hope of taking important new organizations out of business. Some of the media sold out, but enough persisted to provide the public with a complete picture of events.
And they tried to defame the electoral system, claiming that That it was rife with fraud perpetrated by Arab citizens, but elections continued transparently and with high public confidence in their results. It eventually gained a majority that not only prevented Netanyahu from forming his new government, but was able to work together to replace him.

In Israel and the US, institutions have endured, toppled populist leaders and helped lead to their downfall. But the resilience of these institutions is not to be taken lightly – they need to be strengthened now that the threat is averted, perhaps only temporarily.

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