Netanyahu’s One-Year Report Card


“Benjamin Netanyahu, a year into your term, observers seem to agree: You’re an impressive survivor, but just a survivor. The government you lead has no vision, no destination. It’s not going anywhere.”

Thus Ari Shavit, journalist for Israel’s left-wing daily Haaretz, to Prime Minister Netanyahu early this week. Netanyahu (who took office, actually, last March 31 and has been prime minister less than a year) naturally responded by denying the charge, saying “My vision is of an Israel that is a world technological superpower, anchored in values, reaching peace from strength…. we are working to jump-start the economy, to augment our security and to strengthen Israel through inculcating basic national values.”

Realizing that the charge of “lack of vision” from the Left means mainly “lack of negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria to hand them major Israeli strategic assets,” Netanyahu said the Palestinians and Syria were “present[ing] us with extremist preconditions that they did not present to earlier Israeli governments…. The critics expect us to accept the Palestinian and Syrian dictates; they describe the acceptance of those dictates as a vision. I don’t see it as a vision.”

Tentatively, after almost a year in office, Netanyahu can be described as handling the Palestinian situation artfully: positioning himself as a perceived moderate by expressing openness to the idea of a Palestinian state, while hedging such a hypothetical state with requirements (genuine acceptance of Israel, effective demilitarization, Israeli retention of considerable areas) that no Palestinian leader would accept; helping to position Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas as the intransigent party who—reportedly to American, if not European, annoyance—stonewalls talks.

As for the “Syrian track,” those with an awareness of the Golan Heights’ importance for Israel and of the radical nature of Bashar Assad’s regime can only welcome the fact that Netanyahu’s government has not resumed the previous Olmert government’s Turkish-mediated talks with Damascus.

What of Netanyahu’s other claims? Has Israel been “augmenting its security” this past year or just marking time while Hamas and Hezbollah continue their arms buildups on its borders? Israeli analyst Guy Bechor claims it’s the former, and notes that

“our borders are quieter than they have been in many years…. The IDF is training today as it has not done in dozens of years. Every day, from morning till night: Tanks, airplanes, helicopters, live-fire drills…. [The IDF] is now the first military in the world equipping its tanks with anti-missile systems, which are changing the rules of war. The IDF is also equipping itself with new APCs, advanced airplanes, and amazing technological systems, while Hezbollah and Syria are still stuck in the ’80s and ’90s…. Moreover, a series of daring assassinations attributed to Israel is prompting personal fears among axis-of-evil leaders.”

For Bechor, the upshot is that:

“Our enemies realize that the days where Israel conducted itself as a state without honor willing to give in to the advances of those who deceive it are over. They realize that Israel has matured, learned the art of creating deterrence, and that it is here to stay.”

Bechor’s analysis doesn’t say why enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah, and their patron Iran keep building ever-more-dangerous capacities if they’re simply cowed. But it is true that under the Netanyahu government, a trajectory of renewed deterrence has been well sustained up to such recent successes as the presumed Dubai exploit and the air force’s unveiling of a “super-drone” that can reach Iran.

As for “inculcating basic national values,” Netanyahu had in mind a new, 600-million-shekel program launched by his government to restore historical sites and reconnect young Israelis with both the ancient Israelite and modern Zionist past. But whether or not such a massive effort is necessary—and most of the country’s leadership agrees that it is—there are already signs of a revived self-confidence and assertiveness.

The Foreign Ministry’s reported snubbing of a congressional delegation sent by the faux “pro-Israel” group J Street was one such sign. Another is a brand-new, entirely novel initiative by the Foreign Ministry to encourage ordinary Israelis to present Israel’s case abroad with the help of a new website (in Hebrew) that had already been visited by 130,000 in its first five days.

There are also signs of a mounting, well-deserved intolerance toward the traitorous element from within: Tel Aviv University has come under fierce pressure to fire radical-Left academics who campaign abroad for a boycott of Israel; and the left-wing NGO known as the New Israel Fund is likewise under fire and Knesset investigation for funding anti-Israeli groups including some on which the Goldstone commission relied for its libelous report.

Netanyahu was right, then, to reject the allegation that his only real goal is now his own political survival as he leads a government that is “not going anywhere.” In less than a year his government has been rebuilding Israel’s strength on many fronts. But great danger still looms.

  • AlFromOz&Israel

    Bibi is the most intelligent Statesman in modern Israel's history – a Zionist to the Core!! And a great Hero for Israel.
    He reads Obama and his cronies like a book – that is the Power of Hashem being with Bibi!!
    This is also the reason Olmert / Livni – the Demons from Hell that would give the Golan and Sumaria and Judea to the Muslims, will face their Creator and be cast in to Hell's Fire! Repent of your sins you fools.
    Islam is EVIL to its foundation. "Allah" is Satan and it was HE alone that spoke to the imbecile Muhammad!! Muhammad was a pedophile and an evil bastard that worshipped Satan!! He is right now rotting in Hell!! That is a FACT! As will be EVERY Muslim that does not turn to the One TRUE G-d – Hashem – the G-d of the Jews and those grafted in, the Christians!!
    Time is of the essence for ALL of us!! Wake Up World!!

    • Stephen D.

      Well said Al! As a Christian, I feel exactly the same way. I will support Israel as long as Israel is home of the Jews. I am mandated to do just that. Genesis tells us that G-d will bless those that bless Abraham and curse those that curse him. I believe this. I see it like this: The Jews are our older brothers and sisters.
      Smart, you aren’t fit to lace Netanhayu’s sandles! He is a brilliant staesman. I pray for America to find a leader EXACTLY like him.

  • William Smart

    Netanyahu will always be thought a wimp by top Israelis, because he's the only leader in Israel's history not to have personally carried out acts of terrorism or assassination. He's accepted on sufferance because his brother died at Entebbe.

    • Larry D. Crumbley

      You need to get your facts staright okay. The people of Israel love there Prime Minsiter. Not like the so-called President that we have now in power in this country. So go back to the drawing board, and try some other lame excuse for a comment will you.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JosephWiess JosephWiess

    "Realizing that the charge of “lack of vision” from the Left means mainly “lack of negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria to hand them major Israeli strategic assets,”

    I've got an idea. How about major Israeli strategic assets, one bullet at a time, directed toward PLO and HAMAS terrorists, including but not limited to mortar shells, tank ammo, rockets, and drones flying overhead. It's time for Israel to repeat what they did in 65 and 70 and run roughshod over every country around them.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/johncarens johncarens

    Lordy, I wish we could vote for Netanyahu here in the United States.

    To have a brilliant, proudly nationalistic, sunny, strong-as-nails, confident, clear, experienced, articulate, leaders-leader is indeed a gift. Take a look at the disaster of a "leader" we have here in the U.S, if you want contrast…

    Sadly, Israel is infected with the same elements of western self-loathing that infects the United States, and they will go into full Rabin-mode at some point. In the meantime, Israel, enjoy this great man while you have him.

    • hotspur666

      Thanks to the Lord for Yigal Amir!

      Rabin, alive, would have completed the destruction of Israel!

  • LARRY D. CRUMBLEY

    Hello,
    The present day Prime Minister of Israel does not know that he is doing exactly what the Creator Jehovah wants him to do. He is doing it because the Holy-One knows what He wants to happen over there, and as such we now have a leader in the present day so-called President of America that thinks that he can bully the Holy-Land into doing what he wants them to do with there God given property. I say to Israel kick the piece of human scum that he sent over there, I think it is George Mitchell out of your area, and find him to be in violation of his visa. Whatever it takes. Send a clear message to this administration in Wacko D.C. that Israel is not going to be broken up for them or anybody else. Praise YAHWEH.

    LARRY D. CRUMBLEY
    P.S.—PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM, AND FOR THE PEACE OF ISRAEL, THE TRUE HOLY-LAND.

  • Larry Anderson

    Strongly agree with the Pro-Netanyahu comments above!!

    What a great deal it would be for the U.S.—Obama and all his czars for Netanyahu.

  • lostinmassachusetts

    Bibi has had the misfortune to have to lead Israel during two Democrat administrations: Clinton’s and Obama’s. Neither have been supportive of Israel, and Obama, IMO, is openly hostile to the Jewish nation. Despite the extreme pressure from both Clinton and Obama to compromise Israeli security for their political benefit, I believe he has done a remarkable job of defending the interests of his country, and deserves and A for effort.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/kwg1 kwg1

      The last admin was no great help in many ways either!

  • JohnC

    re: lostinmassachesetts
    Not only has Bibi had the misfortune of leading Israel while the Democrats have control of the White House, but he also had to deal with Clinton sending over his operatives to defeat him in his re-election bid. And look how that turned out for Israel. God Bless Israel.

  • USMCSniper

    One year after declaring – as a presidential candidate – that an Iranian attack on Israel would be regarded as an attack on the US, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this week revealed that this was certainly not the policy of the Obama administration.

    While the Iranians could expect 'retaliation,' America was not committing itself to come to Israel's defense is now her official US position. Instead of sending the unequivocal and reassuring message Israel wants to hear on this critical existential issue, Clinton, um'd and ah'd and betrayed Israel .

  • Sassamon

    I am thankful that my Grandfather carefully taught me that the Jews are God's chosen people… and proud that my Father was among those who liberated the concentration camps, 12th Armored Division. Now, I am ashamed of our leaders who do not love Israel and have no understanding of her place.

    • http://www.itecode.com eerie Steve

      Forget the Nazis, the Pacific theater was a much more horrible place. If Israel wants to forgo their interests, such as organized crime or trade rights, to become a protectorate of the USA, then go ahead. Show some balls.

      Israel is the old woman with the beef wellington under her arm crying b/c she has no bread. The conquered mourns. The conqueror is undone indeed.

  • Shalom Freedman

    This is a truly encouraging and I believe accurate piece by one of the finest commentators on Israel reality now writing.

  • SCUMBUCKET

    I suppose it's just an oversight that there was no full discussion of the Isreali terrorists who were let loose on the streets of Dubai?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/PoinTofVeiw PoinTofView

    Peace is not possible for a nation like Israel although Israel has done everything possible to achieve peace. Did Israel not give up Gaza in 05? What good did it do? Not only did it make things much worse for Israel, but for Palestinians, as well. Since 05, violence in Gaza has shot up 77%… this is Palestinians committing rapes, beatings, murders against their own people… so what chance does Israel have? Netanyahu is doing as well as any man could, under such enormous odds and opposition.

  • hotspur666

    Poor Bibi, he is not the Joker Bolshevik, grandson of a Mau Mau cannibal!