Letters to the Editor / Netanyahu the Israeli Sniper

AP

The Israeli sniper

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress despite White House opposition raises questions. What was he doing there? Yes, he spoke passionately against President Barack Obama’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, yet offered few new facts supporting his position. What did he think he could achieve?

Did he sincerely believe his presence and speech would derail the U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations — negotiations ongoing in one forum or another since November 2013 and a key piece of Obama’s foreign policy? If so, he’s suffering from a delusion of omnipotence we usually call by its right name: chutzpah.

It’s certainly not his only recent overreach. In Paris, Bibi invaded the Charlie Hebdo march and offended the French government by inviting all Jews to come ”home” to Israel, where presumably he will keep them safe.

Bibi has a lot in common with Chris Kyle, the American Sniper famous for his exploits, his autobiography, the controversial movie version and his “tragic” ending. Kyle’s self-description is of an arrogant bullish man with contempt for his “savage” adversaries and the rationalization that his 160 certified kills of Iraqis were to “protect his boys.”

He’s undone by his single-mindedness and belief in his omnipotence. With no psychiatric skills he undertakes to “help” another unstable veteran by teaching him to shoot.

Netanyahu’s stance resembles Kyle’s. He’s hoping his messianic posturing will have an effect back home — on the Israeli election. It hasn’t and it won’t, because again, like Kyle, he has been neglecting the situation at home — the rising inequality, the housing problems, the corruption of and by the oligarchs.

In America, Netanyahu’s fearmongering may have encouraged the neocons of both parties. His warnings of the imminent threat of Iran’s nuclear capacity sound dire. But he has made essentially the same warnings since 1992. The current henny-pennying only serves to undermine his credibility.

His intention of undermining the potential agreement with Iran has backfired and strengthened the administration's determination to conclude the deal. In the end, Netanyahu’s arrogance and delusions of omnipotence actually undermine Israel’s security.

Jay Kuten
New Zealand

Stability without undermining democracy

In response to 'Israel’s coalition system is a dictatorship of the minority,’ March 10

In his article, Nehemia Shtrasler correctly observes that either Likud or Zionist Union will have to form a coalition government at the mercy of the small parties.

This of course is not new in Israeli politics. In Israel no party has ever received a majority of the votes and been able to govern alone. A coalition government does not mean a strong government capable of both making desirable decisions and implementing them effectively.

According to Amnon Rubinstein and Adam Wolfson in their 2012 Hebrew-language book “Absence of Government,” the right balance between democratic representativeness and government effectiveness has not been struck in the Israeli political system. The result is ungovernability.

To solve this dilemma, Shtrasler proposes that Israel install a similar system as in Greece and Italy where the party that wins the most votes receives an extra number of seats as a kind of bonus.

This would be advice worthy of Ahitophel. Copying the Greek model means Israel could be governed by a government that did not receive a majority of votes. We need to find solutions for forming stable governments but without undermining democracy.

Mose Apelblat
Brussels