Bibi the PR debacle

My support for the idea of Israel — as the permanent home the world owes to the Jewish people — is deep, and I understand the fears Israelis have of Arab populations that appear to hate them and Arab governments that still, overtly or covertly, hope to erase the Jewish state from the map of the Middle East. (I saw this directly during the Persian Gulf War, while I was reporting from Saudi Arabia. When Iraq lobbed Scud missiles into Israel night after night in an attempt to draw it into the war, The Arab News, the official English language paper in Saudi Arabia, barely mentioned what was the lead story in most western news outlets. Every day, Scuds landing in Jewish cities were noted at the very bottom of the jump of a story on the course of the war. And when the newspaper deigned to show readers where these Scuds were falling,  it was on a map that had Israel, the West Bank and Gaza melded into one entity called “Palestine.”)  I also understand the reluctance to negotiate with Hamas, which is a terrorist organization by any stretch of the definition. But I absolutely do not understand why Israeli voters see Benjamin Netanyahu as a credible person to represent their country and keep it safe. There is plenty of testimony from the Clinton and Obama administrations that Bibi is unreliable, untrustworthy and uninterested beyond measure in reaching a peace accord that creates a Palestinian state. Beyond that, he is a public relations nightmare that his supporters apparently sleep too deeply ever to experience. Watch the video of his performance at a joint session of Congress today with a fresh eye. Would you buy a used car from this prime minister? His is a jowly, sneering schtick, full of trite catch phrases, planned off-the-cuff remarks and truculent insistence that Israel, the strongest military power in the region, never misuses its power. The performance — both today and last night at an AIPAC dinner — seemed not just unconvincing to me, but insincere and condescending. And I don’t think condescending insincerity is the best path toward persuading those who do not already sing in your choir that your melody is pure.

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Filed under Israel, politics

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