Predictably, the Facebook video in which Benjamin Netanyahu mockingly imitates President Biden dozing off during his meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett evoked a surge of delighted, and quite Pavlovian, responses from his detractors.
For the umpteenth time – whether due to wishful thinking or a crude dismissal of a man who has proven, all too often, that one should only underestimate him at their own peril – they hastened to declare that Netanyahu is finished. This was an act by someone who fully realizes he will never return to the White House or the Prime Minister’s Residence, they said. This is proof that he has ceased to be a political threat to Bennett.
It is important to stress that this conclusion is completely mistaken. The critics who claim Netanyahu was making fun of Biden are correct. As is the Likud, who says that the barbs were aimed at Bennett. Netanyahu was laughing at them both.
There is also merit to the claims that Netanyahu’s video arouses suspicion that the edited and manipulated video that MK Galit Distel Atbaryan posted on Twitter – which seems to show Biden falling asleep during a meeting with Bennett and racked up millions of views before being debunked by Reuters and flagged by Twitter – was created in the fake news lab that serves Netanyahu. Bibi supporters do not believe Reuters. Netanyahu is preserving his political base. He’s not worried about his relationship with Biden. He knows he has no relationship with Biden. That was apparent from Biden’s treatment of him before Bennett took over.
The video didn’t ruin anything because there was nothing to ruin. If Netanyahu reassumes the mantle of prime minister soon, Biden will still have to work with him. The United States has its own agenda. The president will just have to hold his nose. The video proves that Netanyahu is a Trump supporter, not that he has no intention of visiting the Oval Office again.
It certainly attests to Netanyahu’s enduring megalomania. He is more narcissistic than ever, arrogant, full of himself. This only makes him more dangerous, if and when he returns. And he is capable of returning. Certainly, he is capable. He could do so three years from now or five years from now. To date, every person who has eulogized Netanyahu has had to eat their hat. He won’t go away, he won’t give up.
It’s possible that even if the current government survives a full term it won’t significantly increase Bennett, Lapid and Sa’ar’s share of Knesset seats in the next election. It’s very possible that Netanyahu’s trial won’t stop him, and he will win an election in 2025. By then he likely won’t have to deal with Biden either. Maybe Trump? At present, Kamala Harris isn’t looking much like presidential material.
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Opponents and eulogizers of Netanyahu must get this through their skulls: He is here. He is dangerous. He is the Israeli public’s leading candidate for prime minister. He has an insatiable lust for power. He is wilier and more determined than all his rivals. Netanyahu still insists on being addressed as prime minister, and he won’t be dissuaded by democratic barriers.
What does this video really tell us? Netanyahu is busy at work, and he is quite enjoying himself. This is no retiree riding off into the sunset.