Now that the execrable Benjamin Netanyahu has determined to spread some of his malice by interfering in American foreign policy, I want to say a little about him that I think Americans fail to realize.
I first started encountering Netanyahu in the nineties, and he immediately had a familiar feel to me. He reminded me of nothing so much as the demagogic, lying, self-serving politicians that populate the Republican party in the United States.
This was something that Israelis could not be expected to understand, of course, but for a more fundamental reason than the fact that they didn't live here. Netanyahu was the first Israeli leader who had not participated in either the struggle for independence or the early years of the State of Israel. Israeli politicians before him, however awful some of them may have been, always had a commitment to the welfare of the State that came from their role in its founding, and which provided a sort of brake to their self-serving instincts. Somewhere, buried in all of them, was a real commitment to the good of Israel; Netanyahu was the first politician in Israel to have none of that, and to consequently feel no restraint about using the combination of lies, fear mongering and the synthetic generation of hatred that we have come to know so well here in the United States.
But, as gullible as Americans are toward that sort of thing, they at least have some painfully learned suspicion of the motives of politicians. The Israelis had no such immunity, although I am sure they will develop it now, confronted with the great damage that Netanyahu's overreaction/tantrum in Gaza has done to them.
In fact, the worst of these Israeli victims of Netanyahu's behavior have been the Jews who were forced out of Arab countries after the foundation of Israel. Their entire previous experience of government left them open prey to the machinations of the Israeli right, and they form by far the largest bloc of Netanyahu voters.
So, it is only to be expected that this very American style politician would collaborate with American Conservatives to damage this country's efforts to conduct diplomacy. He thinks like them, he belongs with them, and he will act like them. Which is to say that he cares for nothing but his own status and power, and will make any kind of devil's deal that he thinks will enhance them.