Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent reelection was a study in "whatever it takes" campaign strategy, surely learned from American politics during the last few decades ("A costly victory," March 19). Facing the reality of polling that showed a dead-even election last week, Mr. Netanyahu pivoted his position on a two-state solution in which Israel would coexist peacefully with an independent Palestinian state, a position held by the U.S. and Europe.
Most appalling was how he ended his campaign where he warned that Arab citizens of Israel were "moving en masse to the polling places" in a way that "distorts the true will of the Israeli people." Could you imagine an American presidential candidate in the final desperate days of his campaign urging voters to rush to the polls by saying "blacks and Latinos are flooding the voting booths! Hurry out and vote or America will change overnight!" A few may have thought it, but we haven't actually heard that — yet.
Now, just a few days after his re-election, Mr. Netanyahu told NBC News, "I don't want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution." Now, this is an "Etch A Sketch" moment if I've ever heard one. You may recall just after the GOP primary season in March of 2012, Mitt Romney's campaign adviser used his famous Etch A Sketch analogy, explaining how Mr. Romney would pivot from his far right positions. "Everything changes — it's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."
Benjamin Netanyahu is not stupid. He attended high school in the Philadelphia suburbs in the 60's, and later attended both MIT and Harvard in the 70's. After high school, he returned to Israel to join the military and served in an elite special forces unit. In the late 70's, "Bibi" Netanyahu worked with Mitt Romney at the Boston Consulting Group, which is quite ironic. Perhaps they pitched Etch A Sketch business strategy to desperate clients!
Mr. Netanyahu may not be stupid but he is clearly dangerous. In September of 2002, he testified under oath as a private citizen in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding the nuclear threat posed by Iraq. He reported "there is no question whatsoever that Saddam [Hussein] is seeking and is working and advancing toward the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever." Perhaps he got the ear of Congress and the president of the United States and we see where that got us.
Benjamin Netanyahu now has to try to assemble a new Israeli parliament which he totally fractured in this election and he has an approval rating in the low 40s. Instead of fawning all over him, as Republicans did a few weeks ago during his address to Congress, we should be very careful when negotiating with someone who will do and say whatever it takes to get what he wants.
Charles Rosenberg, Lutherville