A possible approach to @arishavit’s Netanyahu Apologetic?

Political Observer offer an unapologetic reductivist strategy, to ‘parse’ this essay?

Netanyahu in his own words A divisive politician’s harsh philosophy of survival

By Ari Shavit.

I will quote the the first sentences of each paragraph, as examples of the ‘Shavit Methodology’ The Reader can read these paragraphs in full:

The Prologue:

Benjamin Netanyahu is a unique international phenomenon. When he first strode on to the world stage, in 1984, as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States, Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister of the United Kingdom and Freddie Mercury had yet to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at Live Aid.

Netanyahu is also a unique Israeli phenomenon. The time he has spent in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem – more than fifteen years – far outstrips that enjoyed by Yitzhak Rabin (six years), Menachem Begin (six) or Golda Meir (five), let alone Shimon Peres (three) or Ehud Barak (two).

On the human level Netanyahu is similarly unusual. One of his close associates once told me that he has never met a more impressive – and flawed – individual.

Now this singular actor in a Shakespearean tragedy of his own making has published an autobiography: Bibi: My story. He wrote it, as I understand, because he feared his imminent political demise, devoting nine of his recent eighteen months in parliamentary opposition to writing this 654-page account of his life’s war, his life as war.

Act One, Scene One:

I first met Netanyahu twenty-six years ago. On a damp, grey autumn afternoon, I parked my red VW Beetle outside the office of the prime minister in Jerusalem.

Bibi was the enigmatic, recently elected prime minister, viewed with suspicion by the Israeli elites and the international community. I was a young journalist, eager to decipher the enigma.

Act One: Scene Two

Netanyahu inherited this extraordinary perception of reality – and his all-consuming sense of purpose – from his father, Professor Benzion Netanyahu (1910–2012), a scholar of Judaic history.

Of course, when it comes to telling his story, Netanyahu does not actually describe this radical world-view – which I have heard from him, from his father and from several of his close friends over the years.

With surprising candour Netanyahu reveals that only after he was first voted out of office (in 1999) did he devise his vision for Israel: the formula that peace would not bring security, but security would bring peace.

In line with this vision Netanyahu developed a nonconformist discourse: the corollary that peace with the Palestinians was not the path to peace with the Arab world, but that peace with the Arab world was the path to peace with the Palestinians. As he sees it, Clinton, Obama, the entire Israeli left and most of the international community are wholly misguided.

What is most notable about Netanyahu’s vision is what it lacks.

Act Two: Scene One:

After I met the son, I came to know the father. More than twenty years ago I visited him a dozen times in the small limestone-clad home in Jerusalem in which Bibi was raised and forged.

Preventing catastrophes is the life mission of Benzion Netanyahu’s son. And, in his own eyes, he has succeeded.


Yes and no. True, for more than a decade Bibi has endowed Israel with strategic, economic and political stability.

Like his hero Ronald Reagan, Netanyahu scorns the state. That is why he failed to notice, or care, that during his previous time in office national leadership shrivelled, the political system withered and the civil service atrophied.

Ultimately, what Netanyahu did was to replace Ben-Gurion’s republic with a quasi-royalist regime. The comparison to Trump is instructive.

Act Three : Scene One

On page 190 of Bibi, Netanyahu recounts with pride how, in the early 1980s, he anticipated the fall of the Soviet Union. This sudden premonition came to him, he writes, as he recalled an engineering experiment he once conducted with his classmates at MIT, where he studied architecture.

Israel’s Black November encompasses three unprecedented developments: for the first time a far-right party (the Religious Zionist Party) garnered 11 per cent of the vote; Haredi and ultra- nationalist candidates won more than a quarter of parliamentary seats overall, and make up half of the seats in the governing coalition; and the ruling Likud party plans to hollow out the rule of law by weakening the supreme court and giving politicians powers to undermine the independence of the judicial system.

In the narrow political sense, the elections of 2022 gave Netanyahu a resounding victory: while still standing trial on charges of corruption, he nevertheless managed to destroy the left, defeat the centre and receive a full mandate to govern.

Netanyahu, of course, believes he will prevail – and he will try to ward off this nightmare in two ways: via war and peace. For him the ultimate objective remains Iran.


Netanyahu, of course, believes he will prevail – and he will try to ward off this nightmare in two ways: via war and peace. For him the ultimate objective remains Iran.

What is missing from Bibi: My life story is empathy and introspection. The man who has experienced and accomplished so much is apparently ill equipped to share any genuinely sincere feelings with his readers. His memoir is light on self- criticism – and heavy on self-adulation.

A profound sense of mission helped Benjamin Netanyahu to overcome the tragedy underpinning the leader he has become – amplified by his belief that he is Israel’s Winston Churchill. The sure-to-be turbulent years of his latest tenure as prime minister will determine if his talents will indeed secure the future of his nation, or whether his flaws will endanger the very existence of the Jewish state.

Political Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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