What Does the Indictment Against Netanyahu Portend?

What Does the Indictment Against Netanyahu Portend?

Paul R. Pillar

Politics, Middle East

Netanyahu’s government has pursued policies toward Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians that have been increasingly and blatantly indefensible in terms of peace, justice, and international law.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under indictment for corruption, has been launching vociferous counterattacks that sound quite familiar to anyone (including editorial pages of the mainstream U.S. press) who has been following a parallel story of high-level wrongdoing in the United States. Netanyahu said that earlier reports of the conduct that led to charges against him were “fake news.” He has labeled investigations into the matter a “witch hunt”.  Now he is saying that the indictments are part of an “attempted coup.”  The similarities between a beleaguered Netanyahu and Donald Trump extend beyond such rhetoric to larger habits of never admitting wrongdoing and constantly attacking their accusers. Their common objective has been the retention of power free of any introspection about larger values.

Both heads of government have long histories of demagoguery, with an apparent disregard for possibly violent consequences. Netanyahu’s history includes stirring up hatred against political rivals who participated in the Oslo peace process—rabble-rousing that the family of the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin believes, with good reason, was partly responsible for Rabin’s assassination by a right-wing Jewish Israeli. More recently, Netanyahu’s racist rhetoric has featured warnings about Arabs turning out to vote “in droves”. 

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