Netanyahu Is Israel's Nixon, Says Conservative New York Times Columnist

Bret Stephens, who lived in Israel and advocated the prime minister's efforts against the Iran nuclear deal, calls Netanyahu 'Politically gifted, in many ways strategically canny, but also a fatally flawed human being'

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a speech, February 28, 2019.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivering a speech, February 28, 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
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Haaretz

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be remembered as the Israeli equivalent of former U.S. President Richard Nixon, according to conservative political commentator Bret Stephens, who had published many supportive articles about Netanyahu’s policies over the years.

Stephens, currently a contributing columnist at the New York Times, made the comment in an appearance on NBC News following Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit’s decision to charge Netanyahu in three corruption cases, pending a hearing. 

“I think Netanyahu is going to be remembered as the Richard Nixon of Israeli politics,” Stephens said. “Politically gifted, in many ways strategically canny, but also a fatally flawed human being.” Stephens also criticized Netanyahu’s political pact with the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, stating that this creates “a moral case” against Netanyahu. 

Stephens was a strong critic of President Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East, and supported Netanyahu’s efforts against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. He lived in Israel and edited the Jerusalem Post during the Second Intifada.

Last year, he wrote a column in the Times explaining why despite the corruption allegations, Netanyahu was still popular with many Israelis – mainly, Stephens believed, because of security issues. 

This is also the main reason Stephens now believes Kahol Lavan, the party challenging Netanyahu in the upcoming election, has a chance to beat Likud. He described the party led by former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz as “center-right,” which could challenge Netanyahu’s grip on matters of security in the political discourse. 

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