On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.
Elections have grown increasingly contentious in countries across the globe. This makes sense; governments have become immensely powerful in the face of growing challenges, governments control a much greater share of the economy, and the benefits of dispensing government largesse are increasing exponentially. More recently, thanks to the “innovations” of James Carville and his ilk, campaigns have become ever more bitter and negative.
Eight days after a meeting on a potential free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union last month, two congressmen introduced a bill to influence the process and help prevent economic discrimination against Israel. Called the “U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act” the bill is an effort to counter the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions Movement (BDS), which is lamentably popular in Europe.
Tel Aviv It’s a Tuesday night three weeks before election day, and Naftali Bennett, the head of one of Israel’s oldest religious parties, is speaking in English to 1,000 mostly young, secular Israelis. For Bennett, 42, an ambitious, talented, American-style politician seeking to catapult his Jewish Home faction to third place among Israel’s parties, this isn’t all that surprising.
On the day that Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu was leaving for the United States to give what the Washington Post called “the most important speech of his life,” my grandchildren were watching Big Hero 6. When I heard the smallest of the animated characters say, “We didn’t set out to be super-heroes, but sometimes life doesn’t go the way you planned,” it sounded like the tagline for Bibi’s launch as hero of the free world.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced a daunting task at his address to Congress this week: convincing a friendly America, but a hostile administration, not to let Iran acquire an atomic bomb that could undermine the West and destroy Israel. His speech to Congress was so effective not only because of his characteristically superb presentation, but because he -- contrary to claims by critics -- presented concrete suggestions for a better deal.
When the revolt in Syria began in 2011, many policy analysts and former officials argued that the downfall of the Assad regime would be a major setback to Iran. I was one of them, and the claim was not complicated: Syria was Iran’s only Arab ally, provided its only ports on the Mediterranean, was a land bridge to Hezbollah in Lebanon that allowed Iran an easy means of arming Hezbollah, and via Hezbollah gave Iran a border with Israel. The fall of Assad would deny Iran all these assets and all these possibilities.
We'll all be discussing for quite a while the substance, context, and implications of yesterday's speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I thought I might just offer a personal note on what most struck me yesterday, sitting in the gallery of the House of Representatives.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on his take on Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech, Iran policy, and Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email account while serving as Secretary of State.