News and Commentary

HAMMER: After Much Electoral Fanfare, Israelis Once Again Come Home To Bibi Netanyahu

The verdict out of Israel is in, and Israelis have seen fit to give Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu a fifth term as prime minister. Ballots are still being counted as part of Israel’s haywire electoral process, but, regardless, Netanyahu’s Likud Party is assured of enough allied votes in the Knesset to form another firmly right-of-center governing coalition. With the new term, Netanyahu will surpass the nation’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, as the longest-serving prime minister in the Jewish state’s seven decades of existence.

Israel, in other words, came home to the leader that it knows best.

Netanyahu is, as I have referred to him multiple times before, the Churchillian figure of our time. To be sure, he is far from perfect: He can be impolitic, is prone to opportunistic waffling on the all-important issue of the misbegotten “two-state solution” with the Palestinian-Arabs’ terrorist governments, and, if you believe Israel Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (which you should not), is perhaps even venal to the core.

Netanyahu is also simply not the trigger-happy warmonger that so many falsely depict him as being. Contrary to the pugnacity that so much of the global Left and establishment-aligned media ascribe to him, Netanyahu’s security-oriented actions in office are notable for their prudence and self-restraint. It is Netanyahu who, following the harrowing capitulation to fundamentalist jihadist evil that was President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, decided to wait (at least) until the 2016 U.S. presidential election before taking military action against the Tehran mullocracy — which he properly viewed (and still views) as an existential threat to the Jewish state. It is Netanyahu who continues to “mow the lawn” in Gaza and refuses to countenance some hawks’ preferred solution of initiating a comprehensive land invasion to utterly extirpate and eviscerate the Sunni jihadist group that governs there. It is Netanyahu who has frustrated some Eretz Yisrael-inspired supporters of Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria with his slow pace of building “settlements” there. And it is Netanyahu who has generally shunned any involvement in Syria that is more intrusive than the occasional bombing of an Iranian hard asset or a Hezbollah materiel shipment.

But it is also Netanyahu who, admirable prudence and occasionally excessive restraint aside, demonstrates an intuitive understanding of the threats that Israel — and, by extension, all of the West — ultimately faces. Netanyahu famously sparred with the pro-Palestinian Obama, but, as Quin Hillyer put it in 2015, Netanyahu “spent far more of his formative years on the American mainland than Obama did, … took enemy fire at the age when Obama was openly pushing Marxist theory, and … earned and practiced free enterprise at the same age when Obama was practicing and teaching Alinskyism.” He is a hardened man — his character forever shaped and his fortitude forever calcified by the tragedy that befell his dear older brother Yoni in Entebbe. He intuitively grasps the nature of genocidal, irredentist sharia supremacism in a way that perhaps no other Western leader can — and he is hardly shy in sounding the alarm, when need be. He is, to borrow from American Sniper, a true “sheepdog.”

Furthermore, as Yoram Hazony notes, Israel has quite simply never been better off as a country than it is right now. Quality of life is exceedingly high, the economy is booming, the famous venture capital/start-up scene has never been better, the birthrate is staggering by Western standards, ocean water is being desalinated, offshore natural gas is being drilled in abundance, foreign relations with rising non-U.S. powers such as India are ascendant, and the mutual enemy of the fanatical Iranian regime has brought Israel ever closer to once-vehemently hostile Sunni Arab regimes such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Times in Israel, overall, are pretty good. There was simply no compelling reason for right-minded Israelis to contemplate a change in leadership at the top. Even the ad hoc “Blue and White” alliance, Netanyahu’s main electoral opposition and a political organization that did not exist even a year ago, ran a centrist campaign as something closely akin to “Bibi-lite.” As for the Israeli Left? Well. In the aftermath of the blood of the Second Intifada and the abysmal failure that was the national mistake of the Oslo Accords, suffice it to say that there is no politically viable Israeli Left — even for the Labor Party that politically dominated Israel’s first two to three decades of existence.

Good for Bibi Netanyahu. Good for Israel. Good, indeed, for the United States of America — and for Western civilization.