Could hostilities with Hamas mean serious political trouble for Israel's prime minister?
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu faces a political quandary – as the State of Israel is under immense attacks from Palestinian Arab terrorists. The people of Israel are under attack – and universally demanding calm and an end to terror attacks. Netanyahu’s test during this period will determine whether the man is likely to remain the leader of the Jewish State. While the government won’t fall as rockets fall and are fired, the aftermath may see major political changes depending on what transpires.
While Netanyahu is often referred to as “extreme” by the international media, or thought of as uber-conservative outside of Israel, today there is an immense crisis, and certain circles believe the Netanyahu government will face elections well before they are currently scheduled. If he will fall, it’s solely due to the fact that he is not right-wing enough – and not acting conservatively enough for the people of Israel.
This week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned from Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and took with him 11 Knesset members from the Likud. Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitunu party left Likud - saying that he expects much stronger action against the Palestinian Arabs threatening Israel, and expects a death-blow dealt to Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza. This move leaves Netanyahu’s ruling party with only 20 seats. Moreover, it is widely accepted that Netanyahu is largely unpopular amongst the rank and file of the Likud’s powerful central committee – as they too are more right-wing than Netanyahu.
Lieberman is an ambitious, widely popular politician who is clearly using the current conflict with Hamas as a chance to rise his political fortunes. He noted that – “we do expect changes in the fight against terrorism.” Lieberman in a recent cabinet meeting had a screaming match with Netanyahu yelling, “You promised to deal a harsh blow on Hamas but nothing came of it and they continue to shoot at citizens." On Friday, Lieberman said during a visit to Sderot that "the messages being passed on to Hamas about a cease-fire are a grave mistake." It is unacceptable, he added, "that after three of our boys were kidnapped and murdered, and after two straight weeks of rockets falling, Israel's approach is that 'quiet will be met with quiet.'"
Another charismatic, right-winger, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, has loudly called for a large-scale operation in Gaza and criticized this government – even as he is a member of the Cabinet and the coalition. On Saturday night, Bennett said that "restraint in the face of targeting women and children is not power. Restraint in the face of an execution of three boys is weakness."
The Netanyahu government is far from “extreme right.” Netanyahu is much more likely to fall from the right then he is from the left. In Jonah Goldberg’s book: “Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,” there is an interesting story about an extremist: “If I say we need 100 feet of bridge to cross a 100 foot chasm that makes me an extremist. Someone else says we need no bridge because we don’t need to cross the bridge at all. He is an extremist. The 3rd guy says let’s compromise with a 50 foot bridge, and end the bridge in the middle of the air. As an extremist, I will tell you the other extremist has a better grasp on reality.” Perhaps according to the above standards, Netanyahu is an extremist. But in reality, he is quite moderate, and he has a responsibility to the people of Israel, despite foreign pressures.
Benjamin Netanyahu is the leader of a democratic country that is under attack by cold-blooded murderers. While the world may not recognize it, a much more nationalistic, right-wing Prime Minister is likely to emerge if Netanyahu does not shut down the terrorist organizations attacking Israel today.
Israel’s desire to live is not extreme – its survival.
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