More on What the Netanyahu Victory 'Means'


Following this item last night and another a few hours ago, two more reader reactions for the mix. I'm adding them because each strikes a note different from those in the previous group.

1) "Our survival comes first, not America's." Without elaboration, from a reader in Israel. Punctuation and emphasis in original:

It is a pity that the ignorance and blatant naivety of Americans is beholden as the word of God. When are you going to realize there is a cruel, mean world beyond the Atlantic on one side and the Pacific on the other. Life, YOUR life in particular means very little to most of the world beyond the island of America.

We living here in the Middle East, first and foremost think of how are we going to survive, and not be wiped out by our wonderful, friendly and JEW HATING neighbor nation states. Now you want to shove down our throats another JEW HATING nation state? Please Mr. Fallows, you have to be kidding.......

Didn't America make enough mistakes in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan already? And now you are doing your best to screw up with Iran.

This is the real reason Bibi won the elections. Our survival comes first, not America's. Maybe Bugi would have been good for America, so go ahead and vote for him for POTUS. In the meantime, Netanyahu will be responsible for our survival. For better or worse, he is the best we have at the moment.

Hopefully, we will have good or even better leaders in the future. I wish the same for you. Obama is the worst POTUS since Herbert Hoover. Ask any leader in the world today. Putin laughs, Assad thinks he is a joke, and the Saudis can't understand how a man so ignorant of world affairs gets reelected..... .

Mr. Fallows, please take care of your own political problems and fallacies. For better or worse, the Israeli public has spoken with more than 70% of the eligible voters casting their vote and exercising their democratic rights.

When was the last time more than 70% of American eligible voters bothered to go to the polls?

Give us the respect we deserve as a vibrant democracy, even if the outcome was not to your liking. By the way, I didn't vote for Bibi either......

Actually, I will add one elaboration. I thought it would be obvious, but in case it's not: I have all respect for Israel democratically making choices for its future. I have never once suggested to people there or elsewhere how they "should" vote. It's their country, and the decisions are up to them.

My concern is how the United States should assess and react to the results of Israel's democratically made choice.

2) Another entry for the meager 'I agree' pile. A reader says there is a similarity in the two election scenarios I mentioned, but also an under-appreciated and ominous difference:

I was surprised to see that few of the people who wrote in agreed with your analogy [between the US presidential election of 2004 and the Israeli Knesset election this week] , because it struck me as right on the nose.

As you said, we'll have to wait to see what the coalition looks like, but Netanyahu has demonstrated since the 1990s that he has no interest whatsoever in two states, and whoever sits with him in the Knesset there's no reason to think that will change. So while I admire your hopeful optimism about future Israeli policy, I can't share it.

The point I would add to your 2004US/2015Israel comparison is that Israel has a *much* narrower margin for error than America. The 2004 election still haunts the United States (most prominently in the form of Justices Roberts and Alito), but as bad as those four years were (Katrina, continued wars, financial & economic meltdown), they didn't significantly alter America's balance of power or overall security. By the time 2008 rolled around, we still had a UN Security Council veto, a huge and diverse economy, friendly relations with Mexico, Canada and our other traditional allies, etcetera.

Israel in 2015, however, is on a precipice where they might find themselves isolated and nearly friendless by the time voters get a chance to make a course correction. Palestinian UN membership, referrals to the ICC, ever increasing comparisons to Apartheid, the BDS movement, all of these were already eroding Israeli security out from underneath it before the world saw Netanyahu and his odious policies vindicated. Whether or not that perception is just or unjust given messy internal political realities isn't going to matter much on the floor of the UN, before a tribunal in the Hague, or in European parliaments that are already all but openly hostile.

Obviously I don't know who will be in government with him or how long that government will last, but Israel was already very close to international pariah status before Tuesday's election. Now it is closer still, and no one, not even Netanyahu, knows how close to the edge of diplomatic and economic catastrophe they really are.

The gulf in world view suggested here and via other messages is one of several clarifying effects of this 2015 election. I wrote back to the reader in Israel, saying that I planned to quote his message and reminding him that I had always started from the premise that decisions about Israel's future were up to its own people to make.

He responded:

If the establishment of a Palestinian state, bent on the destruction of our country, no bigger than the State of New Jersey is in America's best and long term interests, than we have no common grounds for a mutual discussion.

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