DOREEN WACHMANN COLUMN
Was chutzpa behind Bibi's election win?

CAN Israel manage without the USA? This is a question that needs addressing after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a last-minute surprise victory in the elections, soon after annoying US president Barack Obama by having the chutzpa to argue against him in his own Congress.

Netanyahu was probably right about Iran. During the current negotiations between western powers and Iran, a strong voice of caution needed to be heard and Netanyahu's was that voice.

But he could have said what he said anywhere in the world. It did not have to be in Obama's own legislative assembly.

Netanyahu would not have liked it if Obama had accepted an invitation from an Israeli opposition leader to speak in the Knesset. Yet Bibi, who played into American Republican hands to score points against their Democrat president, has the chutzpa to accuse the Americans of interfering in his election campaign through V15.

It might indeed be his chutzpa which won Bibi the election. But is chutzpa really a long-term political strategy?

The answer to my original question as to whether Israel can manage without US support is, of course, if we have Hashem on our side, who needs the USA?

But are the Americans and the rest of the world not also God's creatures? Does Israel really need to make Hashem's job more difficult by needlessly antagonising the rest of the world and thus increasing Diaspora antisemitism?

Bibi is a strong leader and, in the current anarchic sea of turbulence which is the Middle East, a strong leader is what is needed.

But for a man with such an excellent command of the English language, Netanyahu's diplomatic skills have recently taken a downturn.

If he really wanted to influence American policy on Iran, would it not have been a better strategy for Bibi to have shmoozed Barack into being his best buddy so that the two could talk privately behind the scenes rather than fesheming (putting to shame) the American president in public?

Is it Israeli pride, which makes Netanyahu not care two hoots about the rest of the world and arrogantly assert that all Diaspora Jews must react to antisemitism by making immediate aliya?

Bibi seems to have lost all sense of subtlety and nuance which are just as essential for political strategy as strong leadership.

Also, his reaction to the unprecedented high Arab turnout at the Israeli election may have won him the vote but does not bode well for the future cohesiveness of Israeli society.

The Arab vote rose thanks, ironically, to right-wing Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose law of raising the threshold for Knesset representation forced the Arab parties to form a united front in which to appeal to their voters.

Netanyahu used the upsurge in Arab voting to appeal to his supporters to come out and beat the Arabs - a strategy which won on the day. But is an even-more divided Israeli society between Jews and Arabs really the answer for Israel?

Bibi has unfairly been getting the stick from the rest of the world for failing to create a Palestinian state and make Middle East peace. But this is a job no one can do. Only last week Tony Blair stepped down as Middle East peace envoy, realising it was an impossible task.

President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 since when hatred and violence have only increased in the world and especially in the Middle East.

If the supposed Messiahs of Blair and Obama can't achieve the impossible of making Arabs act reasonably then why should an Israeli president, who is besieged all sides by Arab enemies be able to do so?

But the answer to the Israeli-Palestinian quetion may be closer to home than many Israelis realise. Amongst the current turbulence of a Middle East increasingly under brutal ISIS control, Israel's democracy should be a shining light to Arab voters of stability and ethnic and religious co-existence.

Surely it is good that Arabs should stop fighting among each other in Israel and come together peacefully to participate in Israeli democracy. Israeli Arabs need to be wooed by Israeli Jews so that they should not become the feared fifth column.

If Israel cannot make peace with a duplicitous Palestinian Authority, then at least it should address the justified concerns of Arab Israelis who feel that they are second-class citizens.

It just might be, as Israeli Arabs look at the rest of the Middle East tearing itself apart, that they might realise how lucky they are to live in a democratic and tolerant country rather than to create yet another failed Arab state which will inevitably be swallowed up by ISIS or Iranian-backed violence.

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