What Netanyahu and Trump owe the Left

Many comparisons have been made between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion airport on May 23, 2017 (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion airport on May 23, 2017
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
On Wednesday evening, thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv to demonstrate solidarity with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The purpose of the rally, organized by coalition chairman Likud MK David Bitan, was to decry the investigations into Netanyahu’s alleged acts of corruption, and commiserate over the news that the attorney general had decided to indict Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, for spending public funds on private expenses.
“Both the Left and the media, and they are the same thing... are now involved in an unprecedented, obsessive witch hunt against me and my family,” Netanyahu said at the event. Participants waved banners protesting the “putsch” being attempted by way of “trumped-up” criminal charges. Though the pun here is unintentional, the sentiment is eerily similar to that felt by supporters of US President Donald Trump in the face of his opponents’ move to delegitimize his election, criminalize his presidency and bring about his impeachment.
This is not the only comparison between Netanyahu and Trump that Israelis have been making lately. Although the press likes to mock Netanyahu for having so readily adopted Trump’s favorite phrase – “fake news” – journalists are not the only ones drawing parallels between the two leaders. Sara Netanyahu did so as well, when she greeted First Lady Melania Trump on the tarmac of Ben-Gurion Airport on May 22, when the Trumps arrived in Israel as part of the US president’s first official trip abroad.
“You know, in Israel... the media hate us, but the people love us. Like you,” Sara told Melania. Later that evening, when the two couples had dinner together at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, there was undoubtedly further discussion on the matter.
Whether they also talked about being loathed by certain groups within their own parties is not clear. Yet, just as Trump has many harsh critics in the Republican Party, Netanyahu bears the brunt of hostility from rivals within Likud and in the broader right-wing bloc. In addition, both Trump and Netanyahu are seen, even by many of their supporters, to possess character flaws that are difficult to discount, let alone defend.
What the two have most in common, however, is something that neither realizes. Indeed, the “background noise” – as Netanyahu has characterized hysterical calls for his indictment and ousting – seems to be preventing both the Israeli prime minister and the US president from noticing that they have been, and continue to be, bolstered by the very forces working tirelessly to take them down.
Trump was elected because of the cultural Marxism that had enveloped the United States. It was a climate that enabled and fed on the two-term presidency of Barack Obama, a Saul Alinsky adherent. Nor was the media the sole culprit. The US was becoming an Orwellian universe in which all concepts of good and evil were turned on their head. Universities were no longer institutions of higher learning, but rather totalitarian training grounds for the policing of thought. Trump’s brash assertions about “making America great again” elicited elation that somebody was listening to a mass plea to “make America America again.” The point is that Trump owes his victory, and the obstinacy of his loyalists, to the Left’s penchant for going too far. The same applies to Netanyahu. Members of his base turned out in droves to cheer and champion him last week, precisely because they felt that he, and they, have been under unjust assault. It did not matter to them whether there is merit to the case against Netanyahu. Politics, after all, is 75% perception.
Which brings us to the final and most significant gift that the Left has bestowed on both Netanyahu and Trump: the notion that both heads of state are dangerous, trigger-happy alarmists, liable to set off a nuclear war with rhetoric, if not weapons. This is nonsense, of course, but the Shi’ite mullahs in Tehran and the crazy communist dictator in Pyongyang are not so confident.
What level-headed Israelis do know for certain, beyond the real and present danger of Iranian and North Korean nukes, is that Netanyahu was ridiculed and chastised by the Left for making a special trip to Washington in March 2015 to address Congress and warn against the nuclear deal with Iran. In the same vein, Americans this week witnessed Trump being raked over the coals for responding to North Korea’s test launch of two intercontinental ballistic missiles with a threat of “fire, fury and... power.”
Such ludicrous belittlement of leaders doing their duty discredits the detractors and instills fear among those enemies with the will and means to annihilate whole populations of innocent people. Rather than commiserating over their shared victimization at the hands of the “Left and the media,” Netanyahu and Trump should be grateful for the help.
The writer is an editor at the Gatestone Institute.