Monday, June 07, 2021

The Trump Post-Election Play Comes to Israel

While by all appearances Bibi has lost control of the Prime Minister's post, it ain't over until someone else's butt is physically in the chair. And until that moment happens, Netanyahu is taking a page from Trump's book on how to lose an election: raging incitement, spurious claims of fraud, and ramping up violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned violent rhetoric on “every side” of the political spectrum Sunday but also claimed that Israel’s incoming government, which will replace him, is the result of “the greatest electoral fraud in the history of the country.”

Netanyahu’s speech came as the head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service warned of a rise in rhetoric that encourages violence. A pro-Netanyahu lawmaker compared two of his rivals to “terrorists” facing a “death sentence,” and members of the incoming coalition have received death threats in recent days.

At least one American Middle East analyst compared Netanyahu’s words to former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric ahead of Jan. 6. 

One of Netanyahu's allies, Itamar Ben-Gvir (you may remember him for having a portrait of the terrorist Baruch Goldstein hanging in his house) is promising to lead a march of right-wing extremists through Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem in the obvious hopes of provoking another spate of inter-ethnic violence that might derail the new government. The march has already been deemed illegal, but Ben-Gvir says he's going to exploit his parliamentary immunity (thanks, Bibi, for shepherding him into the Knesset) to lead it anyway.

Why is Bibi doing this? Well, obviously, he's desperate to hang on to power by any means necessary -- that's been clear for awhile. But the reason he's adopting these tactics is because Trump demonstrated that they could work. They didn't, in Trump's case, and they probably won't in Bibi's either. But they came far closer to working than anyone should be comfortable with -- close enough so that Bibi's willing to give them a shot, consequences be damned.

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