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Israel’s Biden moment

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Some political leaders are defined by big ideas and others by outcomes, even if prosaic. But with truly special ones, the legacy’s a zeitgeist. That’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel should feel very different after Sunday’s swearing-in of a new government even if co-leaders Naftali Bennett (slated to go first as prime minister) and Yair Lapid (succeeding him in 2023) never do an actual thing. It will feel different because of the change in behavior at the top.

Understanding how might help outsiders understand the radical polarization Netanyahu has inspired. Like Donald Trump, Netanyahu is opposed by a small majority of the people (and Knesset), about half of whom loathe him; and he is supported by an unmovable base of perhaps 40 percent, about half of whom adore him.

Like Trump, Netanyahu has dominated the discourse with whiplash-inducing jackhammer agitprop, and his exit might usher in a period of calm. Sunday is Israel’s Biden moment: a little like Joe Biden, the Bennett-Lapid duo might be boring in a way that is a balm.

Outsiders might feel confusion about why Netanyahu failed to win after Israel became the first country to basically vaccinate its way out of Covid-19 (indeed suffering four non-victories over a bizarre two-year non-stop campaign).

After all, anyone following Israel knows that personal security has been quite good, with suicide bombings all but gone, and that Netanyahu has started no wars (other than those involving Gaza, a conundrum no prominent Israeli politician has a solution for). The country is also quite prosperous owing to technology superpowerdom.

Moreover, Netanyahu as an individual wows observers not only with flawless English........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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