Unlike the vast majority on the Left, and just about as many in the political Centre and even on the Right, I’ve long had a certain admiration for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s hardly the hard-hearted ideologue he’s often portrayed by half of his haters, and not quite the Machiavellian monster as depicted by the other half.
True, Bibi’s ham handed and not always loyal – and that’s just with those in his own government and Likud circle. He’s secretive and often a party of one. In short, he’s like too many other elected officials found in democratic nations. However, that’s not the whole of the story or even its gist. Most of all – to my mind in any case – Netanyahu is strategic, pragmatic, gifted of vision, and to his core, a Jew who cares greatly about the Jews and the Jewish State. He will go down in Israeli history as the nation’s longest serving prime minister, at least in part, because his citizens have trusted him most with their security – period. That’s no small matter.
If you’re still with me – both those of you who rather despise Bibi and those of you who secretly admire him – here in my defence are two things you should take a quick look at: first, Bibi’s remarkable statement of solidarity with the LGBT community after the recent Orlando massacre (it’s less than three minutes, you can watch here); second, Jonathan Tobin’s brief analysis of the deal Netanyahu cut Monday with Turkey’s Erdogan to reconcile Israel and Turkey after six years of tension and division (read here).