(December 23, 2019 / JNS)
I had the honor and privilege of speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this past week. I thanked him for all of his accomplishments and especially for advancing the Jewish people and the State Of Israel beyond belief.
As the longest-serving premier in Israel’s history, he has reached a pinnacle very few will ever attain—and he has done it with brilliance and flair. He has a lot more to accomplish, and he is the right prime minister to pull it off. In medicine and in other fields as well we live by the principle “that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Netanyahu has a Likud Party leadership primary on Thursday, and he needs to win it. He must be the Likud candidate for Israel’s March 2020 election if the right is to stand a chance of forming a majority coalition. I am afraid that as good as his challengers might be, they are not yet ready for prime time. They will have a harder time defeating the left than Netanyahu; Bibi stands the best chance of beating Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and company.
Even though the polls might indicate that Likud Knesset member and main Netanyahu rival Gideon Sa’ar would do well, in my estimation he cannot do as well as Netanyahu in a competition against Gantz.
To top it all off, there is the great relationship Netanyahu has with President Donald Trump. Why choose a new leader for the right who has no such connection?
I said the same thing about Boris Johnson in Great Britain. The British were smart: They chose a leader with a close relationship with the American president. Why disrupt that essential and vital dynamism? The Israeli voter understands this. A vote for Netanyahu is a vote for Trump. This was highlighted during the recent Democratic debate when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called
Netanyahu a “racist.”
It is clear that Netanyahu is doing a lot more at keeping the left at bay than he is given credit for by some on the right.
One might ask, however, what will be different about this third Israeli election? After all, Netanyahu failed to form a majority government following both the April 9 and Sept. 17 elections. It is an important question.
The answer, I believe, is that after March 2 many of the stubborn forces at work in Israeli politics will finally give way. Simply put, “The third time’s the charm.”
Netanyahu’s age should not be a factor. Trump will be 74 in 2020. Netanyahu is only 70.
His indictment should not be a factor. Trump looks stronger than ever despite or because of his impeachment. Similarly, Netanyahu looks even better to the voter embattled and defiant.
The Likud leadership primary this week is critical. It is a must-win for Netanyahu. Jewish survival depends upon it.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.