Since the right-wing camp’s victory in the last November parliamentary elections, and the news that Benjamin Netanyahu will return to power with one of the most right-wing governments seen in the country, many media outlets in Israel and around the world have published reports and articles aimed at spreading fear and anxiety among Israeli citizens, Jewish communities worldwide, and decision-makers in various countries.
For example, The New York Times devoted an editorial in which it claimed that “Netanyahu’s government is a threat to the future of Israel.” Jewish media outlets also dedicated prominent pages and numerous headlines to the apparent threat of Netanyahu’s government to democracy. These publications apparently aim to express concern for democracy and minorities in Israel, but in reality, they are attempts to negate the free democratic election of Israeli citizens and the will of the voters.
All of this is done under the guise of “liberalism” and “democracy.” Therefore, those who attack the “threat to democracy” from the current Netanyahu government are those who actually represent anti-democratic and anti-liberal views.
Israeli citizens chose the right-wing government
We are witnessing a timed delegitimization campaign against the current Netanyahu government by forces associated with the Left in Israel and worldwide (including most Jewish organizations), which are unwilling to accept the election results. The simple truth is that Israeli citizens chose a right-wing government led by Netanyahu, thoughtfully and freely.
They did so knowing they would receive what they wanted. This means a free economy, a strong national identity, a realpolitik-based foreign policy, an uncompromising stance on settlement in Israel, and a pursuit of peace through strength with Arab and Muslim countries (without concessions on territories). They did so because they have already seen for themselves the benefits that a government led by Netanyahu can bring to Israel, in contrast to his opponents.
Netanyahu brought the golden ages for Israel
Here is the place to mention that for more than a decade during Netanyahu’s time, in the years 2009-2021, Israel experienced its golden age in all fields. On the economic side, Netanyahu worked to reduce taxes, open the economy to competition and reduce bureaucracy and regulation. This policy has proven itself beyond any doubt.
Netanyahu governments led to impressive economic growth, low unemployment, a record number of employed in the economy, an increase in investments by foreign companies, and tremendous growth in the stock market. Thanks to his insistence and anti-populist policies, Netanyahu turned Israel into an energy power by extracting gas from the seabed, contrary to the attempts of opposition elements and officials to prevent this with various arguments.
ON THE social side, Netanyahu governments worked to bring the peripheral cities closer to the center by investing heavily in transportation infrastructures, such as building and upgrading highways and interchanges and building railroads and train stations.
In the security field, during the Netanyahu governments, the lowest number of deaths in wars and acts of terrorism was recorded. It was the quietest period experienced by Israel in a long time, for a country surrounded by enemies. Netanyahu made sure of a wise, considered and balanced policy on the security front, without unnecessary operations.
The successes in the economy and security branded Israel as a strong country, which, with the help of Netanyahu’s determination and consistency in the domestic arena and in international forums, led to a dramatic change in the country’s foreign relations.
Netanyahu led the establishment of a regional alliance in the Mediterranean basin, bypassing Turkey. This alliance includes Cyprus and Greece. By creating economic opportunities and leveraging cooperation in the field of energy, starting in 2016, several summit conferences of the three countries were held in Nicosia, Thessaloniki and Jerusalem. Joint military exercises were also held between the countries. The Netanyahu governments even upgraded Israel’s foreign relations with Japan, China and India in Asia, and with many countries in Africa.
But the highlight was the signing of four peace agreements with Arab countries as part of the Abraham Accords. Netanyahu actually turned the pyramid that dominated Israel’s security and political systems for decades. Instead of the Arab countries following an agreement with the Palestinians, the idea now is that the Palestinians will want an agreement with Israel, following the Arab countries.
Netanyahu often talks about the advantages of the Israeli economy and security, and of their combination. This combination allowed Israel to achieve a prestigious international status and recruit allies that would benefit the Israeli interest. During his time, the State of Israel has never been better – in the economy, security and foreign policy.
Israel has become an influential regional power that world powers consult and respect as they shape regions. It has also managed to diversify its sources of support and trade to distant markets with a potential that is hardly quantifiable, thereby extricating itself from its economic and diplomatic dependence on the European Union.
The successes listed above are registered in Netanyahu’s name. The ability of a statesman to steer the ship calmly, wisely, sharply and decisively, to a safe shore – is no small thing – especially in the stormy sea of the Middle East, which has experienced many violent upheavals.
In the end, the fact that in the current Netanyahu government, there are ministers and deputy ministers whose opinions are not accepted by Reform and Conservative Jews in the US, as well as by elements of the Left camp in Israel and in the world, does not mean the “end of democracy” for Israel, or the collapse of the state. Sometimes you just have to know how to lose with dignity.
The writer is a military strategy and national security expert, and an Israeli publicist. He also holds a PhD in Political Studies.