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The poisonous legacy of Israel’s PM

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in 2017. AFP Photo

The problem with “narcissistic, anti-democratic, ethno-nationalist, arsonist would-be kings” is that they don’t care much about the rule of law, says David Rothkopf in Haaretz. Both Israel’s Netanyahu and America’s Trump have shown that when it comes to elections, “they know better than the people”. Okay, Netanyahu has yet to incite an insurrection and encourage his followers to occupy the Knesset, as Trump did on Capitol Hill, but “who knows what is next”. His attempt to rig the criminal trial against him by appointing a key ally as his justice minister (Netanyahu stands accused of corruption, including bribery and fraud) is “pretty darned Trumpian” in its corruption and “intergalactic levels of chutzpah”.

Both pose an enduring threat to their countries by leaving behind a legacy of empowered extremists. In Trump’s case it’s Republican members waging war on his behalf. For Netanyahu – who seems to have lost the election, but is so far refusing to budge – it’s right-wing parties that will playing an outsized role in the next Israeli government whether he manages to cling on or not. Netanyahu, like Trump, has empowered “extra-parliamentary far-right street gangs” who take their marching orders from the top, and has weakened the country’s international standing by eroding trust in democracy and promoting division and racism at home. He and Trump are “outstandingly odious”, but Putin, Modi, Xi, Bolsonaro and Erdogan all fit the same profile. Taken together, these shameless populists are a serious threat to the planet.

Why it matters The current violence in Jerusalem could easily have been avoided, says Haaretz in an editorial. But intelligence officials, the army and the police are taking orders from a prime minister who has lost his mandate and cares only about his political survival. The citizens of Israel don’t need another costly, senseless demonstration of “lethal muscle-flexing”. Sadly, Netanyahu believes they do.

Read the full article here.