I was just discussing the upcoming Israeli election with Assaf Oron, who feels a bit more sanguine than I about the outcome. He believes that Livni still has a chance to pull her irons out of the fire. I’m not sure but hope he’s right. Bibi would be an utter disaster.
This got me to thinking who Bibi reminds me of. At first I thought a used car salesman, but that’s not right. Bibi’s too cerebral for that. And then it hit me: he’s Israel’s Dick Cheney. The same ponderous baritone spouting vacuous sound bytes that sound reassuring until you examine what little content they contain. The same hyper-testosterone infused, angry political rhetoric. The same frightening laser-like gaze. The same obsession with national security, terrorism and global jihad. The same disdain for the common man and little guy.
Actually, Assaf doesn’t agree with my analogy:
I don’t think of him as Cheney at all; more like John Cleese in Fawlty Towers:…sweaty, running around, spineless, bullish – and always steps in that dogshit on the floor at the wrong moment.
I find little comic in Bibi’s political persona. In fact, both Bibi and Cheney are alike in their total joylessness and lack of a sense of humor. But I’m glad someone can see Bibi as a buffoon. I wish I could as well. He seems far too dangerous for that. But I trust Assaf’s take on Israeli politics and so he may have something there. Let’s see how the election turns out.
Israeli politics: fraudulent or corrupt?
February 8, 2009
It is disturbing to note that the corruption endemic in Israeli politics continues and that it is possible that a right-wing leader may succeed at the polls who is being investigated for fraud. This follows, of course, upon the present incumbent who is under investigation for high-level corruption.
This trashes completely the incessant claim by Israel to be the only democracy in the Middle East.
That Israel is a corrupt society is not in question – at least as far as its political class is concerned. Which begs the question as to why anyone would take this forthcoming election seriously. Whatever the outcome, we will be left with a sleazy politician with sticky hands and an ability to bend facts to his or her satisfaction.
That is unfortunately, or even tragically, not to the benefit either of Israel or the Diaspora and both anti-Israel feeling as well as anti-Semitism will continue to rise worldwide.
The solution? Elect a government of integrity and probity that the world can see will make a genuine effort to co-operate with the indigenous peoples of the region so that a peaceful settlement to the conflict can ensue.
The alternative? Nuclear war in the Middle East and the consequent danger to the world.
C. O. says
I agree with Assaf’s views about Netanyahu’s personality, but I’m not sharing his optimism. I won’t misunderestimate the damage that clowns can make
Norman Weinstein says
The clinical term for both of these people – I looked it up in MacPherson’s Dictionary of Moral Certitudes – is “malevolent horse’s asses”. MacPherson never made it big because of his proclivity for excessive understatement.
I’m with you Richard on this, and I don’t see the comical aspect of it. While his first term is generally associated with failure, and many of his subsequent political moves have been met with scorn by the chattering classes, I think he still commands a measure of respect from the people – total ruthlessness would do that for you.
He’s the only Israeli politician, out of many I detest, that actually gives me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Sharon has done far worse and is responsible for many more deaths than Bibi — after all he’s a bona fide war criminal — but I never had that visceral reaction to Sharon as I did for Bibi, even out of power.
To top it all, in addition to being a neocon’s neocon he’s as dogmatic a follower as you’ll find of Laissez-faire free market capitalism. A true believer. In a country full of racists and bigots he injects a whole new level of evil missing from the other candidates and parties, by introducing all the now-discredited conservative policies that have wrecked the US for the past 30 years.
And that dead fish look in his eyes..
And they both remind me of ‘Il Duce’ (as Mussolini’s fawning, fascist followers lovingly referred to him).
“So long as the Duce lives, one can rest assured that Italy will seize every opportunity to achieve its imperialistic aims.”
—Adolf Hitler, late November 1939
QUOTATION SOURCE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benito_Mussolini
I know it’s superficial to say this, but to me, all white conservatives seem alike. I guess it’s something psychological…
There are some similarities at the political and perhaps physical level but they are quite different in other respects imo. Netanyahu is a highly educated man graduating from MIT and has seen military service in the Israeli special forces. Cheney flunked out of Yale, barely graduated from Wisconsin and failed to complete his doctorate while obtaining five deferments for the draft during the Vietnam war. In many ways Netanyahu is more intelligent and not, at least in my view, a physical coward like Cheney. Where Cheney has the edge is that he is a smarter political operator, knows how to win turf battles and is a much better manipulator of power inside administrations. Netanyahu comes across as much more hapless and less politically able – a fact made clear in a rather disparaging interview by his father on the son’s political abilities.
On a personal note, I think he lives to a degree in the shadow of his elder brother Jonathan and was never regarded as highly by his parents.
Arie Brand says
I share the distaste for Netanyahu (I can’t get myself to write Bibi) some of the other contributors have. I am not sure, however, that his election instead that of Livni would be a greater disaster. Livni can keep up a measure of respectability in spite of her recent lying performances. Netanyahu shows the real face of present day Israel and is for many beyond the pale. If he, moreover, puts that Russian fascist into his cabinet the worldwide movement for sanctions might really get some momentum.
Things might have to get worse before they get better.
Arie Brand says
When I wrote the above I hadn’t read Richard’s previous post yet. Neither had I heard of that Huffington Post gent and others espousing the point of view I came up with.
I share Richard’s fear that Obama will not have the political strength to deal with a far-right Israeli government but the US isn’t the sole player here. The disaffection might first spread in Europe and force European governments to change their attitude towards Israel. Presently the discussions regarding a preferential position for Israel in trade have already been unilaterally stopped as the European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs announced about four weeks ago. The European Commission shied away from the word ‘sanctions’ but I understood from a television interview with a former European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, the Dutchman Hans van den Broek, that this measure was actually meant as such.