Days after Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, claimed to be speaking for “the entire Jewish people” in his speech before Congress, tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets, rejecting such a ridiculous notion by calling for his ouster.
The explicitly anti-Netanyahu rally, which organizers say drew 80,000 people, comes just 10 days before Israel’s elections, with most polls showing Netanyahu’s Likud vulnerable to being defeated by a center-left coalition.
At the rally, former Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, blasted Netanyahu as more dangerous than any perceived enemy and the greatest obstacle to peace:
“Israel is a country surrounded by enemies, but the enemies are not scaring us. I am afraid of our leadership.”
“Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister for six years straight, six years in which he has not led a single genuine process of change to the face of the region or the creation of a better future. On his watch, Israel conducted the longest [military] campaign since the War of Independence.”
Dagan’s voice is representative of those in Israel’s security establishment who both rejected Netanyahu’s speech before Congress and his attempts to derail President Obama’s Iran diplomacy. Indeed, Netanyahu organized the speech behind the back of his own National Security Advisor, knowing it would be rejected as dangerous and damaging to U.S.-Israel relations.
This week, Netanyahu defended himself from attacks on the right by claiming to be the greatest supporter of Israel’s settlement enterprise in Israel’s history, the only claim he’s made recently which rings true. In response to this and Israel’s continued occupation, multiple speakers at the Tel Aviv rally charged Netanyahu with pushing Israel toward full apartheid, including Dagan.
It remains difficult to determine whether Netanyahu’s foreign policy push and speech before Congress, one of the most elaborate election stunts in recent history, will end up helping or hurting his election chances.