We can debate the alleged racism, I suppose, but I’m not sure how we go about debating whether a guy who’s been prime minister for 10 years fairly represents the will of Israelis. If Netanyahu’s coalition wins tomorrow’s Knesset elections and he goes on to serve another four months, he’ll have served the single longest term as PM in the history of Israel.
But then, as Seth Mandel says, go figure that Beto might prefer to believe that the loser in an election more accurately represents the will of the electorate.
Did Trump ever go this far on the trail about an ally in 2015-16, by the way? He’s easily the most unorthodox president on foreign policy in modern American history, openly admiring the “strength” of the likes of Vladimir Putin and sneering at neoliberal NATO partners like Angela Merkel. But I can’t remember him ever personally affronting the leader of a closely allied nation by dismissing him as indecent the way O’Rourke does here with Netanyahu. Am I forgetting something? Did he call Justin Trudeau an A-hole at some point on the trail, say?
I mean, it sounds like something he’d do. But even Trump had more restraint than to deem someone with whom the U.S. cooperates regularly on intelligence as fundamentally unfit to lead.
Beto strains here to target his criticism at Netanyahu specifically rather than at Israel writ large, noting up front that the U.S.-Israel relationship needs to “transcend partisanship,” a possible allusion to the rising anti-Israel tide on the left. But he voted against funding the Iron Dome missile-defense system while a member of the House (ostensibly because there wasn’t sufficient debate about it), then made a goodwill trip to Israel sponsored by the lefty group J Street — and then reiterated that he would have voted again against the funding. I think he’s trying to straddle the two camps within the party and has concluded that withering criticism of Netanyahu while praising Israel and its people is the way to do it. “Netanyahu’s a racist” is for the Ilhan Omar wing; “we must … make sure that the alliance is strong” is for everyone else.
And what if he’s elected president and Netanyahu is somehow still PM in 2021, despite a tough election tomorrow and the prospect of soon being indicted? Eh, that’s a long enough longshot (and getting longer by the day) that Beto doesn’t need to worry about it right now. If all the stars align and we end up with an O’Rourke/Netanyahu summit two years from now, the new president will find some fig leaf in Netanyahu’s policies to claim that he’s “really changed” and now the two can work together.
Besides, whoever ends up as the Democratic nominee will be forced by the left to condemn Bibi to some greater or lesser degree, if not as great as Beto. Exit quotation from Bernie Sanders, after being asked about Netanyahu: “I’m not a great fan of his, and, frankly, I hope he loses his election.”