It has become common over the past few months, and especially since Donald Trump’s victory, to encounter opinion and analysis pieces that discuss the growth around the world of populist nationalism under pseudo-democratic strongmen who overturn and endanger democratic norms. One frequently finds Trump’s success compared to that of Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Erdogan in Turkey, Nigel Farange in Britain, Marine LePen in France, and Rodrigo Duarte in the Philippines. I have long found these comparisons quite useful, but it struck me today that in all the articles I have read making that point, I have yet to see one nationalist-populist strongman with a penchant for overturning established norms included in the list: Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. He built a wall; he backs the settler movement to the hilt, which is an ethno-nationalist movement that consciously aims to promote both the nation’s security status and provide economic succor to Israelis at the expense of an ethnic minority group; and he abandoned both the Two State Solution and, with his open backing of Mitt Romney and speech to Congress in opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, the tradition of history of maintaining good relations with both American political parties. In hindsight, it seems obvious that Netanyahu should be included in the parade of near-fascist horribles used to demonstrate the global trend, but he generally hasn’t been.
Well, he ought to be; he’s as bad as any of them.