America and Israel have long been considered great allies, but it would be difficult to argue that the relationship has ever been as strong as it has been during the Trump-Netanyahu era.
The friendship makes sense. President Trump’s policies, especially as they pertain to Israel, are almost completely synchronized with the preferences of Netanyahu. In peace discussions, the Trump administration has uniquely implied that it isn’t married to a two-state solution peace plan — thereby alleviating pressure former presidents had placed on the prime minister.
On a political level, it also makes sense. Trump is popular in Israel and he likes Netanyahu a great deal. Netanyahu even named a town in Israel after the American president. Trump, on the other hand, is more than glad to appeal to the large pro-Israel base that consists of Republicans, independents, and some moderate Democrats by engaging positively with Netanyahu. By doing so, he can make his Israel policy critics appear to the laymen as fringe, anti-Israel extremists.
But perhaps, between the lines, there is a deeper reasoning that explains the nature of their relationship.
Since the beginning of Trump’s administration, and over the last few years of Netanyahu’s, both have had to deal with unreasonable political opponents, an overtly adversarial media, and distracting politicized investigations. These challenges have been specific to these two individuals; each is thus uniquely qualified to understand the other’s predicaments. Perhaps that explains their tremendous relationship.
But the core similarity has been the joint investigations into their respective actions. Specifically, the similarities lie in the way opponents and media alike have responded to the investigations. Instead of allowing the investigations to go to completion, foes and the media have turned them into distractions for political gain. This commenced before either of the investigations reached its natural conclusion.
The willingness of the media and politicians to assume and report negative outcomes prior to any information being released was simply irresponsible. In the American case, the media were made to look foolish when the results contradicted two years’ worth of “bombshells.” Indeed, President Trump was correct to call the process “a hoax,” and Netanyahu has wisely borrowed some of the language Trump used in describing the investigations in Israel. Only Trump and Netanyahu can understand each other’s frustration in dealing with folks who were so blatantly willing to make brazen and, sometimes, even fabricated claims.
Both are also forced to deal with foes who are irrationally not accepting the results of democratic elections. In Trump’s case, Democrats continue to bemoan the results of an election that took place almost three years ago. They now refuse to accept the result of an investigation that they desired. Now, with all other options off the table, many Democrats are going with an impeachment narrative, which has no basis in reality.
In Netanyahu’s scenario, his political nemeses didn’t allow him to form a governing coalition, which has forced a repeat election for the first time in Israeli history. Thus, Israel will be forced to undergo a nearly identical election to the one it recently completed, and undertake the tremendous costs associated with that. This occurrence has led one Israeli reporter to refer to the situation as “the dumbest thing [she has] ever seen in the Knesset.” Both Netanyahu and Trump have made attempts at bringing their adversaries to the table for the sake of compromise instead of partisan politicking, but to no avail. Not due to fault of their own, but because no one has come forward ready to have a reasonable discussion.
The media has also been complicit in the partisan onslaught each leader has faced.
Since the beginning of the Mueller investigation, the media have been obsessed with it. One study found 353 minutes of nightly news airtime devoted to the Mueller probe. The fact that an investigation (particularly one that concluded what this one did) so significantly outweighed tangible policy results, like a historically strong economy, is asinine. Frankly, it’s worse than that: It’s media malpractice.
Netanyahu faces a similar barrage. Throughout his career, “Netanyahu would frequently complain about the media’s negative attitude toward him [and these claims have] some merit.” As one writer put it, “another re-election, another case of media bias against Netanyahu.” It forced Netanyahu to speak about how he and the media are looking at two completely different realities.
Despite being geographically distant, Trump and Netanyahu face different, yet similar, challenges. And these challenges are, for the most part, imposed by the same types of people. It’s understandable that they seem to appreciate each other on a level more significant than what we have previously seen between the holders of these two offices. Maybe it’s that exact closeness that compelled Trump to support Netanyahu via Twitter upon learning that a new election would be held. Indeed, during the electoral process, “Trump was widely seen as overtly pushing to get Netanyahu elected, with a series of steps aimed at boosting Netanyahu’s popularity.”
And so it is wholly feasible to suggest that their alliance stands on the fact that, when you pull back the curtains, these two leaders are working hard to serve their citizenry despite the intransigent obstacles they each face. It is a task that no one but the two of them can truly understand.
Elliot Fuchs is a political consultant and writer. You can follow him on Twitter @Elliot_Fuchs.