Jul 1st 2024

Netanyahu Is Israel’s Most Dangerous Enemy

by Alon Ben-Meier

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is an expert on Middle East politics and affairs, specializing in peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. For the past twenty five years, Dr. Ben-Meir has been directly involved in various negotiations and has operated as a liaison between top Arab and Israeli officials. Dr. Ben-Meir serves as senior fellow at New York University's School of Global Affairs where he has been teaching courses on the Middle East and negotiations for 18 years. He is also a Senior Fellow and the Middle Eastern Studies Project Director at the World Policy Institute. Dr. Ben-Meir hosts "Global Leaders: Conversations with Alon Ben-Meir," a series of debates and conversations with top policy-makers around the world. He also regularly holds briefings at the US State Department for international visitors. Dr. Ben-Meir writes frequently and has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and websites including the Middle East Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Le Monde, American Chronicle, the Week, the Political Quarterly, Israel Policy Forum, Gulf Times, the Peninsula, The Jerusalem Post, and the Huffington Post. He also makes regular television and radio appearances, and has been featured on networks such as CNN, FOX, PBS, ABC, al Jazeera (English and Arabic), and NPR. He has authored six books related to Middle East policy and is currently working on a book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. He is fluent in English, Arabic, and Hebrew.

Never in Israel’s history have Israeli-Palestinian relations been more poisonous than under Netanyahu’s nearly uninterrupted 17-year-long reign. It is now incumbent upon every Israeli, young and old, man and woman, to realize that Netanyahu's rule brought Israel to this unprecedented, perilous state of affairs. I make this statement because I genuinely believe that Netanyahu’s ideological bent, self-indulgence, insatiable thirst for power, and illusions about Israel’s future are sliding Israel ever more precipitously toward the abyss. Hamas’ ferocious attack and the disastrous war that followed is the culmination of a series of tragic mistakes that Netanyahu had committed over the years.

In defiance of any logic, reason, and reality, Netanyahu has opposed throughout his entire political career the establishment of a Palestinian state and has sworn to prevent that from ever happening with absolute zeal. Whereas he was determined to thwart any attempt that could lead to that end, he had been gripped by the illusion that he could find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that precludes such a state yet allows Israel to still coexist peacefully with the Palestinians.

The tragedy is that he has been completely dismissive of the fact that the Palestinian problem will not fade away and will continue to haunt the Israelis. And worse yet, he has contributed directly and wittingly to the horrific disaster in which Israel and the Palestinians are thrust today.

From the day he rose to power in 1996, he was resolute and made no secret of his desire to scuttle the 1993 Oslo Accords. In 2001, in a private conversation with relatives of terror victims, he said: “I actually stopped the Oslo Accords.” And in December 2023, he stated at a press conference, “I will not let the State of Israel go back to the fateful mistake of Oslo.”

Since Oslo laid the foundation for Palestinian statehood, Netanyahu stopped short of nothing to sabotage it to prevent such a state from being realized. This was enshrined in the original Likud Party platform, 1977: “The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable...” In 1997, Netanyahu reaffirmed this view: "This is the land of our forefathers, and we claim it to the same degree that the other side claims it.” And during his UNGA speech last September, Netanyahu displayed a map that shows Israel encompassing all of Mandatory Palestine – Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

To make his case, Netanyahu skillfully and consistently portrayed the creation of a Palestinian state as a mortal danger to Israel. He stated in January 2024: “My insistence is what has prevented — over the years — the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have constituted an existential danger to Israel. As long as I am prime minister, I will continue to strongly insist on this.”

To cement his opposition to a Palestinian state, Netanyahu embarked surreptitiously on creeping annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank. In defiance of the international community, he pushed for establishing new and expanding existing settlements, and legalizing illegal ones. In February 2023, in response to reports of a settlement freeze, he countered: “Construction and legalization in Judea and Samaria will continue according to the original planning and construction schedule, without any changes.”

Since 2007, following Hamas’ overthrow of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, Netanyahu imposed a blockade, claiming that Hamas poses an existential danger to Israel. True, while Hamas’ leaders professed that much publicly, Hamas never posed such a danger to Israel as they have never had the military capacity to do so. But Netanyahu's repeated assertion was calculated to serve his political interest. In response to Hamas’ provocations, he was happy to dispatch his troops to Gaza several times to “mow the lawn,” to keep Hamas at bay and bolster his badly-sought reputation as “Mr. Security.”

Netanyahu’s public posture against Hamas was misleading and designed for public consumption. He knew all too well that Hamas was shaped into what it is today by Israel going back more than a decade before he became prime minister in 1996. Former Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev, who was the Israeli military governor in Gaza in the early 1980s, told a New York Times reporter that he had helped finance Hamas as a “counterweight” to the secularists and leftists of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Fatah party, stating “The Israeli Government gave me a budget and the military government gives to the mosques.” And Avner Cohen, a former Israeli religious affairs official who worked in Gaza for two decades, told the Wall Street Journal in 2009 that “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.”

No one has strengthened Hamas’ military more than Netanyahu. It is under his watch that Hamas became a more potent force than it was ever before. Netanyahu was happily funneling billions of dollars from Qatar to Hamas, of which Hamas dedicated 55 percent to buying and manufacturing weapons, building 350-mile-long tunnels, and recruiting and training tens of thousands of fighters, preparing them for urban warfare beyond anyone’s wild imagination. In March 2019, Netanyahu stated that “Whoever opposes a Palestinian state must support the delivery of funds to Gaza because maintaining separation between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.” All along, Netanyahu has convinced himself that Hamas is under control and that the Palestinians will succumb to living in Gaza in an open-air prison.

And then came Hamas’ unfathomably horrific attack, where 1,200 Israelis were savagely murdered and 250 abducted, laying 20 Israeli communities in ruin under his watch. But, of course, leave it to the shameless Netanyahu to refuse to take any responsibility, blaming the Israeli intelligence and everybody else for the colossal failure of his own making that fundamentally amended the status quo. Netanyahu is now bent on making matters even worse.

The Israeli retaliation was undoubtedly justified, but in the manner the war was carried out, there were strong elements of revenge and retribution that no calculus could justify. The killing of 37,000 Palestinians, among them more than 50 percent women and children (albeit only 12,800 have so far been positively identified), while laying more than half of Gaza in ruin, transcends any proportionality and indeed is tantamount to war crimes. This unfolding horror obscured Hamas’ butchering of 1,200 innocent Israelis in cold blood courtesy of Netanyahu's catastrophic mistake, and how he executed the war enraged the international community, putting Israel and its people to shame.

But then leave it to the masterful manipulator to paint the whole war as an existential threat to justify the often-indiscriminating bombardments, claiming: “I think we've responded in a way that goes after the terrorists and tries to minimize the civilian population in which the terrorists embed themselves and use them as human shields.” But then, how do you square that statement with what he said on November 2023: “You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible. And we do remember”? The first Book of Samuel states:

  • I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys [emphasis added]. 

Then, in December 2023, he pledged, “We are not stopping, and we will not stop until we are victorious.”

What kind of victory?  Victory is celebrated if it ushers in a new era—an era of sustainable peace and promising horizon, not a new opening of an even greater inferno with the Palestinians, which will surely follow. Netanyahu's continued refusal to articulate a sensible exit strategy from Gaza and his persistent rejection of the Palestinian right to statehood will only pave the way for the next catastrophic war that may well involve other regional actors, making this war anything but a rehearsal.

Netanyahu’s disdainful criticism of Biden

Netanyahu knows how indispensable the US is to Israel, as no country has provided Israel with more financial, military, and political support than the US. And no American president has ever been more supportive and committed to Israel's security than President Biden. But then, leave it to the most loathsome Netanyahu, who dares to criticize the president for suspending the shipment specifically of 2,000-pound bombs to continue with his devastating bombardment of Rafah that could indiscriminately kill thousands of innocent civilians.

On June 18, 2024, Netanyahu shamelessly stated: “It is inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunition to Israel.” And on June 23, 2024, he again brazenly stated: “Four months ago, there was a dramatic decrease in the munitions coming from the U.S. to Israel… We received all sorts of explanations, but we didn’t receive one thing: the basic situation did not change. Certain items arrived in trickles, but the munitions at large remained behind.” In reality, only one shipment of “high-payload munitions” was paused in May.

Even if this were true, only an ungrateful fool would publicly make such an ill-thought-out statement for the whole world to hear. This character is scheduled to speak at a joint session of the US Congress on July 24. Inviting him at this particular juncture will do nothing but disgrace Congress. Netanyahu has repeatedly defied President Biden, and giving him the prestige to address Congress is nothing but a slap in Biden's face.

Moreover, bestowing him this honor before he agrees on an endgame to the war further strengthens his resolve to prolong the war in order to stay in power. Netanyahu’s speech will drive a deeper wedge between the Democrats who support versus those who are against the war. Known for his strong affinity to the Republican party, coming to Congress amid presidential elections, Netanyahu will allow Republican leaders to show more support to Israel than the Democrats. Indeed, there is no depth that Netanyahu will not stoop to only to see Trump be re-elected, believing that Trump will give him free rein to do whatever he wants to the Palestinians.

To sum up Netanyahu’s saga, he, more than any other individual in Israel’s history, tried to destroy every pillar on which Israeli-Palestinian coexistence must inevitably rest. Since he returned to power in 2008, he has spared no effort to make the Palestinians’ lives unbearable. His successive governments have systematically been oppressing the Palestinians, especially in the West Bank, subjecting them to forced evacuation, administrative detention, and night raids, demolishing their homes, and expropriating their land. At the same time, several hundred are being killed every single year. All the while, he let settlers harass and intimidate the Palestinians, poison their wells, uproot their trees, and block them from grazing on their land, forcing many to leave their villages in desperation.

Failing to cleanse the territories ethnically, Netanyahu’s actions only poisoned the minds of yet another Palestinian generation who now live with ever deeper hatred toward Israel, waiting to exact blood from the country they view as their existential enemy. More alarmingly, as the war rages on, one cannot escape the evidentiary conclusion that Netanyahu has become Israel’s most insidious and dangerous enemy from within.

All Israelis who care about their country’s future must rise and demand the immediate resignation of this corrupt and brazen creature who inflicted untold damage on the only Jewish state, making it a pariah state. It will take many years before Israel recovers, but only if it recognizes the Palestinians’ unmitigated reality and forges peace based on a two-state solution.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a retired professor of international relations, most recently at the Center for
Global Affairs at NYU. He taught courses on international negotiation and
Middle Eastern studies.
alon@alonben-meir.com  Web: www.alonben-meir.com

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Jul 17th 2024
EXTRACTS: "Iran unveiled a digital clock counting down the days to the destruction of Israel in 2040. The display, located in Tehran’s Palestine Square, embodies the Islamic Republic’s long-held commitment to annihilating the Jewish state. Some view this promise as a mere rhetorical exercise...." ----- "From Adolf Hitler to Vladimir Putin and even Osama bin Laden, history has taught us to take threats of ideologically inspired attacks at face value. " ---- "Against this backdrop, the key enabler of Iran’s war of attrition is, in fact, Israel’s own government. Netanyahu’s unrealistic goal of achieving 'a complete victory' in Gaza serves Iran’s strategy of miring Israel in an inconclusive conflict while orchestrating a long-term plan to destroy the Jewish state." ----- "It turns out that the only truly irrational, trigger-happy fanatics in this lethal equation are Netanyahu and his theo-fascist allies, who are determined to engage in an apocalyptic war in Gaza and Lebanon." ---- "These messianic hallucinators have a willing collaborator in Netanyahu. Together, they are doing more to annihilate the Jewish national project than Iran could ever hope to achieve on its own."
Jul 16th 2024
EXTRACTS: "In her dissenting opinion in Trump v. United States, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declared that with the majority’s ruling, 'the President is now a king above the law'. In this, she is wrong: the majority opinion has given the US president far more power than English kings had at the time of the American Revolution." ---- "In June 1686, 11 of the 12 hand-picked justices ruled in favor of the king. Echoing the king’s own solicitor, Sir Thomas Powys, the Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys contended that if the king did not have leeway above the law, “the preservation of the government” might be in jeopardy." ---- "In 1689, the English people roundly rejected such reasoning and asserted that their kings would thereafter be subject to the law. They set a precedent by removing James II from office. The Supreme Court’s decision goes beyond threatening more than two centuries of American jurisprudence; it overturns four centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence. The Roberts majority did not give the president the power of an English king; it gave the president power that an English king could only covet."
Jul 4th 2024
EXTRACT: "Most American voters who believe that Trump is the best defender of democracy are not fascists, much less communists. The very thought would horrify them. But they almost surely have a strong opinion on who constitutes the true American people: God-fearing, hard-working, and most probably white. And they worry that these ordinary Americans are being displaced by illegal immigrants, and that their way of life is being threatened by new ideas about gender, race, and sexuality emerging from elite universities. Trump is stoking these fears and exaggerating these threats. His line that the US courts are attacking not only him, but every right-thinking American is horribly effective. Since he is heard as the true voice of the people, he is the purest democrat. As a result, liberal democracy might not withstand another four years of his rule."
Jul 3rd 2024
EXTRACT: "....the debate showed all too clearly that he is suffering cognitive decline and cannot possibly serve as a competent president for another four years. If Biden is true to his word, and stopping Trump from regaining the presidency is his overriding goal, he needs to announce that at the Democratic Convention in August, he will release his delegates from their obligation to vote for him, and instead ask them to vote for the candidate with the best chance of defeating Trump."
Jul 3rd 2024
EXTRACTS: "Both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Supreme Court have just announced grand opinions trying to resolve the fundamental constitutional issues raised by former President Donald Trump’s claim to absolute immunity" ---- "According to Sotomayor, who wrote for the three dissenting justices, Roberts’ sweeping grant of immunity has 'no firm grounding in constitutional text, history, or precedent.' ” ----- "For what it’s worth, I think that Sotomayor is right and Roberts is wrong." ----"But for now, it is much more important to consider the objection raised by Justice Amy Coney Barrett to both Roberts’ constitutional glorification of the presidency and Sotomayor’s devastating critique of Roberts’ majority opinion." ---- "Barrett is right to ask why Roberts and Sotomayor did not join her in adopting the problem-solving approach that they have repeatedly endorsed in many other contexts." ---- "Roberts took the path that not only betrayed Founding principles, as Sotomayor argued, but also betrayed the very principles to which he has dedicated his entire career. "
Jul 1st 2024
EXTRACTS: "Netanyahu’s disdainful criticism of Biden. Netanyahu knows how indispensable the US is to Israel, as no country has provided Israel with more financial, military, and political support than the US. And no American president has ever been more supportive and committed to Israel's security than President Biden. But then, leave it to the most loathsome Netanyahu, who dares to criticize the president for suspending the shipment specifically of 2,000-pound bombs to continue with his devastating bombardment of Rafah that could indiscriminately kill thousands of innocent civilians." ---- "All Israelis who care about their country’s future must rise and demand the immediate resignation of this corrupt and brazen creature who inflicted untold damage on the only Jewish state, making it a pariah state."
Jun 12th 2024
EXTRACTS: "One of the more amusing exercises on the economic calendar is the International Monetary Fund’s annual review of the United States. Yet while everyone knows that the US government pays absolutely no heed to what the IMF has to say about its affairs, the Fund’s most recent Article IV review of the US economy is striking for one unexpected finding. Readers will be startled to learn that, in the IMF’s estimation, US government debt is on a sustainable path." ---- "What then could go wrong? Well, US institutions could turn out not to be so strong. Donald Trump has a personal history of defaulting on his debts. As William Silber has observed, Trump in a second presidential term could instruct his Treasury secretary to suspend payments on the debt, and neither Congress nor the courts might be willing to do anything about it. The gambit would be appealing to Trump insofar as a third of US government debt is held by foreigners. The damage to the dollar’s safe-asset status would be severe, even if Congress, the courts, or a subsequent president reversed Trump’s suspension of debt payments. Investors in US Treasuries would demand a hefty risk premium, potentially causing the government’s interest payments to explode."
Jun 9th 2024
EXTRACT: "An all-too-familiar specter is haunting Europe, one that reliably appears every five years. As citizens head to the polls to elect a new European Parliament, observers are once again asking whether far-right anti-European parties will gain ground and unite to destroy the European Union from within. To be sure, skeptics of this doomsday scenario have always argued that the far right will remain divided, because nationalist internationalism is a contradiction in terms. But it is more likely that specific policy disagreements – mainly over the Ukraine war – and drastically diverging political strategies will prevent Europe’s various far-right parties from forming a 'supergroup.' ”
Jun 9th 2024
EXTRACT: "While the dreadful legacy of his Conservative predecessors – the morally vacuous Johnson and the reckless Liz Truss – would make it extremely difficult for Sunak to offer a credible vision of a better future, many of his current problems are self-inflicted. For example, he supported Johnson’s bid for the Conservative leadership, a decision that reflects poorly on his judgment. Sunak has also been a Euroskeptic since he was a schoolboy and was an early supporter of Brexit."
Jun 8th 2024
EXTRACTS: "Why are so many young people attracted to far-right politics? Polls show that 36% of French people aged 18-24 support Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, while roughly 31% in the Netherlands back Geert Wilders’s nationalist, anti-immigration ..... 26% of Americans aged 18-29 prefer former US President Donald Trump over the incumbent Joe Biden." ---- "Center-left parties had become increasingly associated with urban elites who benefited from a globalized economy in which immigrants provided cheap labor and well-educated cosmopolitans could seek financial profit or intellectual stimulation wherever they desired." ---- "Trump does not have to convince many young people to vote for him. If enough of them refuse to vote for Biden, either because he is too old, too conservative, or too pro-Israel, Trump could win November’s presidential election. If elected, he will continue to shatter the norms and wreck the institutions that allow democracy to function."
Apr 13th 2024
EXTRACT: "That said, even if Europe were to improve its deterrence capabilities, it would be unwise to assume that leaders necessarily make rational decisions. In her 1984 book The March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuchman observes that political leaders frequently act against their own interests. America’s disastrous wars in the Middle East, the Soviet Union’s ill-fated campaign in Afghanistan, and the ongoing war of blind hatred between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, with its potential to escalate into a larger regional conflict, are prime examples of such missteps. As Tuchman notes, the march of folly is never-ending. That is precisely why Europe must prepare itself for an era of heightened vigilance."
Apr 13th 2024
EXTRACTS: " Nathan Cofnas is a research fellow in the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. His research is supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust. He is also a college research associate at Emmanuel College. Working at the intersection of science and philosophy, he has published several papers in leading peer-reviewed journals. He also writes popular articles and posts on Substack. In January, Cofnas published a post called “Why We Need to Talk about the Right’s Stupidity Problem.” No one at Cambridge seems to have been bothered by his argument that people on the political right have, on average, lower intelligence than those on the left." ---- "The academic world will be watching what happens. Were the University of Cambridge to dismiss Cofnas, it would sound a warning to students and academics everywhere: when it comes to controversial topics, even the world’s most renowned universities can no longer be relied upon to stand by their commitment to defend freedom of thought and discussion."
Apr 13th 2024
EXTRACTS: "Word has been sent down from on high that there is room for only “good stories of China.” Anyone who raises questions about problems, or even challenges, faces exclusion from the public sessions. That was certainly true for me." ----- " But my admiration for the Chinese people and the extraordinary transformation of China’s economy over the past 45 years persists. I still disagree with the consensus view in the West that the Chinese miracle was always doomed to fail. Moreover, I remain highly critical of America’s virulent Sinophobia, while maintaining the view that China faces serious structural growth challenges. And I continue to believe that US-China codependency offers a recipe for mutually beneficial conflict resolution. My agenda remains analytically driven, not politically motivated."
Apr 11th 2024
EXTRACTS: "The insurrection began just after 8 p.m. on November 8, 1923, when Hitler and his followers burst into a political rally and held the crowd hostage. ---- The Nazi attempt to seize power ended the following morning, ---- After two and a half days in hiding, Germany’s most wanted man was discovered ----- Hitler was charged with treason, and his trial began on February 26, 1924. ---- .....the judge, having found Hitler guilty, imposed the minimum sentence....That miscarriage of justice was facilitated by the trial’s location in the anti-democratic south, and by the role of the presiding judge, Georg Neithardt, a conservative who was happy to allow Hitler to use his court as a platform to attack the Republic. ----- Like Hitler in 1924, Trump is using the courtroom as a stage on which to present himself as the victim, arguing that a crooked 'deep state' is out to get him."
Apr 9th 2024
EXTRACTS: "If Kennedy’s emphasis on healing suggests someone who has been through “recovery,” that is because he has. Following the trauma of losing both his father and his uncle to assassins’ bullets, Kennedy battled, and ultimately overcame, an addiction to heroin. Like Kennedy, Shanahan also appears to be channeling personal affliction. She describes grappling with infertility, as well as the difficulties associated with raising her five-year-old daughter, Echo, who suffers from autism," ----- "Armed with paranoid conspiracy theories about America’s descent into chronic sickness, loneliness, and depression, Kennedy has heedlessly spread lies about the putative dangers of life-saving vaccines while mouthing platitudes about resilience and healing. To all appearances, he remains caught in a twisted fantasy that he just might be the one who will realize his father’s idealistic dreams of a better America."
Mar 18th 2024
EXTRACT: "....the UK’s current economic woes – falling exports, slowing growth, low productivity, high taxes, and strained public finances – underscore the urgency of confronting Brexit’s catastrophic consequences."
Mar 18th 2024
EXTRACTS: Most significant of all, Russia’s Black Sea fleet has suffered significant losses over the past two years. As a result of these Ukrainian successes, the Kremlin decided to relocate the Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk on the Russian mainland. Compare that with the situation prior to the annexation of Crimea in 2014 when Russia had a secure lease on the naval base of Sevastopol until 2042." --- "Ukrainian efforts have clearly demonstrated, however, that the Kremlin’s, and Putin’s personal, commitment may not be enough to secure Russia’s hold forever. Kyiv’s western partners would do well to remember that among the spreading gloom over the trajectory of the war."
Mar 8th 2024
EXTRACT: "As the saying goes, 'It’s the economy, stupid.' Trump’s proposed economic-policy agenda is now the greatest threat to economies and markets around the world."
Mar 8th 2024
EXTRACT: "Russia, of course, brought all these problems on itself. It most certainly is not winning the war, either militarily or on the economic front. Ukraine is recovering from the initial shock, and if robust foreign assistance continues, it will have an upper hand in the war of attrition."
Mar 8th 2024
EXTRACT: "...... with good timing and good luck, enabled Trump to defeat [in 2016] political icon Hillary Clinton in a race that appeared tailor-made for her. But contrary to what Trump might claim, his victory was extremely narrow. In fact, he lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes – a larger margin than any other US president in history. Since then, Trump has proved toxic at the ballot box. " -----"The old wisdom that 'demographics is destiny' – coined by the French philosopher Auguste Comte – may well be more relevant to the outcome than it has been to any previous presidential election. "----- "Between the 2016 and 2024 elections, some 20 million older voters will have died, and about 32 million younger Americans will have reached voting age. Many young voters disdain both parties, and Republicans are actively recruiting (mostly white men) on college campuses. But the issues that are dearest to Gen Z’s heart – such as reproductive rights, democracy, and the environment – will keep most of them voting Democratic."