Full Text Israel Political Brief June 7, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Featured in July Vanity Fair Article ‘The Netanyahu Paradox’

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

IN FOCUS: ISRAEL’S PM BENJAMIN NETANYAHU FEATURED IN JULY VANITY FAIR STORY ‘THE NETANYAHU PARADOX’

Netanyahu, Man in Full — Tablet Magazine, 6-7-12

Bibi to Vanity Fair: ‘I’m Not Manipulative’ — Forward, 6-7-12

  • Netanyahu to Vanity Fair: ‘I’m not naturally manipulative’: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to intrigue the foreign media – after being crowned as ‘King Bibi’ on TIME magazine’s cover, he is profiled in Vanity Fair’s July issue, which tries to decipher ‘The Netanyahu Paradox.’…. – Haaretz, 6-8-12
  • ‘Sara Netanyahu can make or break anyone’: American Magazine Vanity Fair published in its July issue an article dedicated to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the people surrounding him, including his wife, Sara. The piece, titled “The Netanyahu Paradox,” begins with a depiction of the…. – Ynetnews, 6-8-12

The Netanyahu Paradox

Source: Vanity Fair, July 2012

A nuclear Iran threatens. The Palestinian conflict smolders. Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has largely vanquished his domestic foes—the Israeli media, the political opposition—in a battle backed by two U.S. billionaires and reportedly fueled by his wife, Sara. Interviewing the 62-year-old leader, David Margolick explores why “Bibi” is in control of his country, but not of its destiny.

Photographs by Platon

BILATERAL RELATIONS Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, photographed at his office in Jerusalem.

At one point or another for an entire week last November, most of the Israeli establishment showed up at the Bauhaus home in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem: members of the Cabinet and Knesset, security officials, rabbis, businessmen, journalists, supplicants of all stripes, “everyone who didn’t want to get in any trouble,” as one participant put it. They stood solemnly around the small stone courtyard with a tent on top, officially mourning, but also studying who else was there, who was whispering to whom. Ehud Barak, the defense minister and, by many accounts, the most vigorous proponent of an Israeli strike against Iran, was there. So was Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, who then held the key to the current government’s survival. Even an Arab member of the Knesset, Ahmad Tibi, came by later on. The guest registry also included Sheldon Adelson, the ubiquitous gambling magnate, and Ronald Lauder, an heir to the Estée Lauder cosmetics fortune—a pair of American billionaires who, improbably, have also become major Israeli media moguls.

The occasion was the shivah, or memorial observance, for a man named Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who had just died at the age of 97. Luminaries like this wouldn’t normally show up to honor a beloved but relatively obscure Israeli poet and educator like Ben-Artzi; few of the guests had even met him. They were there more for his son-in-law: Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. They had come to the prime minister’s official residence less out of friendship and respect—for Netanyahu is something of a loner, someone who antagonizes even his allies—than for reasons of realpolitik: even back then, before the shakeup that has left him with one of the largest majorities in Israeli history, Netanyahu was all-powerful. Attention had to be paid.

But, as is often the case in Israeli politics, it was even more complicated than that: many of the guests had come primarily for Sara Netanyahu, Ben-Artzi’s daughter and Bibi’s wife. Here, too, it was not so much out of love or respect, but fear. Even Bibi couldn’t stray very far, though he had other pressing business—like a memorial service commemorating the 1995 assassination of the Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. So, there he was, at his wife’s insistence, sticking around for the whole week, periodically reading her late father’s poetry aloud to the mourners in a way that elicited pity even from his detractors. “I have no choice,” lamented one tycoon about his reasons for coming. “She’s running the show here in Israel. She can make or break anyone.”

It is the paradox of Israel that in Benjamin Netanyahu, 62 years old, now entering his seventh year in office, the country has both its strongest and its weakest leader in memory—and, as things now look, will have both sides of him for many years to come.

As of early May, when his coalition suddenly and surprisingly swallowed up the largest opposition party, Kadima, Netanyahu now controls 94 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. An Iranian atom bomb may be some time off, but as Yossi Verter writing in Israel’s liberal daily, Haaretz, put it, an atom bomb has fallen on Israeli politics. Until elections in the fall of 2013, Netanyahu can now do pretty much what he wants. The question is just what that is, and whether even he knows, for he’s proven better at holding power than wielding it….READ MORE

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