Thursday, February 8, 2018

Churchill and Netanyahu: a brief comparison

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in trouble. Allegations of fraud and bribery have been made against him.

No proof has been offered. No investigative journalist has found credible evidence against him. No one has found a 'smoking gun'.

Nevertheless, the press is eager to attack. Over the last year, the press has called Netanyahu selfish, greedy, self-aggrandizing and interested only in himself. 

If these press reports are to be believed, Netanyahu is hearing many of the same accusations Winston Churchill heard in the 1930's: he's selfish, self-centered, self-aggrandizing, interested only in himself. By the end of the 1930's, the words 'corruption' and 'Churchill' were appearing together (Norman Rose, Churchill: the unruly giant,1994, pp 244-5). Churchill was called (pardon the language), a 'tyrant', a 'sh*t' and touched by megalomania' (ibid). 

These two men may share more than you think. They certainly share similar press notices.

Attacks against both men have been ad hominen--against the man, not his ideas. At the worst of times, both look like they face the end of their political careers. For both, their future at such moments looks bleak.

Of course, we're not talking here of a one-to-one comparison. Their political situations are indeed different. The times are different.  

But the threat each leader's nation faced is the same. The personal animosity each experienced feels similar. Each certainly heard his enemies call for his nation to 'move on' without him. 

In hindsight, Churchill's greatest political sin might have been his dislike of Hitler. Powerful Leftists in England took great offense that Churchill didn't believe Germany could be 'peaceful' towards England. Churchill spoke too much of Hitler's war mentality. 

Today in Israel, powerful Leftists take great offense that Netanyahu won't believe that Mahmoud Abbas wants 'peace. They say it's Netanyahu who doesn't want peace. 

The rise of Nazism in Germany threatened Western civilization (Paul Addison, "The 'Churchill question' is a complex one: a study in failure as well as success", historytoday, vol 30, issue 8, August 1980). In the 1930's, Nazis in Germany were creating a barbarous regime "by exalting into a religion of state the most destructive and irrational instincts of mankind" (ibid). Churchill opposed such a regime.

In the Middle East today, jihadists seek to create an Islamic Caliphate that promotes an anti-Western barbarity by exalting a religious belief that appears at once destructive, irrational, racist and filled with hate. Netanyahu opposes such a regime.

In 1930's England, Churchill was attacked for his anti-German views. In 2017, Benjamin Netanyahu is attacked for his anti-Abbas views. 

Both men stood against appeasing his enemy. Both were attacked for that position. Both suffered politically from those attacks.

Nazis in Germany promoted a racial conflict against the Jews, the likes of which had never been seen before. Jihadists in the Middle East today promote the religious murder of Jews which has rarely, if ever, been seen at this scale.  

Churchill was right. His Leftists enemies were wrong. In the end, with survival at stake, England chose Churchill to lead their fight for survival--not his Leftist enemies.

Israel, too, faces an existential threat. Will Israel choose  to stay with Netanyahu for its own fight for survival?

Stay tuned.

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