“Spitting on America’s Face,” said former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
On November 9, 2012, well after the US elections ended, Hebrew media is still obsessed with the feeling of defeat at Netanyahu’s bureau. “The night Netanyahu won’t forget” and “the astonishment that seized Netanyahu and his advisers this week was absolute” were typical comments. “Spitting on America’s Face,” was the harsher comment of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who after being acquitted by the court, is becoming increasingly active against Netanyahu. The redundancy of these reports and their extreme texts made me wonder wether Netanyahu and Obama are secret allies trying to hide that they are playing a complex international poker game. Yet, this is one of those rare cases in which such a conspiracy is not an option.
Netanyahu’s backing of Romney was as absolute as media reports indicate. The links between the two go beyond shared political activities. It is not their personal friendship. It is not the fact that Netanyahu appeared on Romney’s ads. It is not Romney’s recent visit to Jerusalem. It is the fact that both of them share the same political platform. Both are lavishly supported by Sheldon Adelson, a gambling magnate. Netanyahu and Adelson rely on political advice from Arthur Finkelstein, an American Jew who is a prominent Republican Party consultant and was considered instrumental in Ronald Reagan’s victory. Finkelstein claimed that Romney was about to win and influenced the actions of Adelson and Netanyhau. This powerful team made an awful work in its assessment of the American elections’s results. Netanyahu realized that it may be committing the same error in the upcoming Israeli elections. Netanyahu’s nightmare is rapidly becoming true.
A 6% Error is (almost) Nothing!
The unprecedentedly open Israeli support to a candidate to the American presidency was the result of a 6% error in Arthur Finkelstein’s assessment of the results. He claimed that Romney would win with a 4% margin over Obama. In reality, he lost by roughly 2%. He also predicted that Romney will win all the swing states; eventually he lost all but one. This error was enough to convince Netanyahu and Adelson to help as much as possible to Romney’s campaign. Beyond Netanyahu’s political gifts, Adelson was the largest private contributor. Evaluations of his contributions vary between 40 and $70 million.
Contributions of such large sums imply an extraordinary level of involvement. He contributed $16.5 million to Winning Our Future, an organization supporting Newt Gingrich. When the latter lost the Republican candidacy to Romney, Adelson contributed $20 million to Restore Our Future, which backed Mitt Romney. Had Adelson made a better judgement, he wouldn’t have given such large sums to the losing candidates. He could have shown his support with humbler sums. At least three other candidates backed by Adelson, among them Josh Mendel in Ohio, also lost. Overall, Adelson experienced a frightfully expensive series of defeats. The only place where he had a limited success was with the Republican Jewish Coalition. His contribution to them raised the percentage of Republican Jews bothering to vote, bringing down the Jewish support to Obama from 74% to 70%. This is a quite irrelevant achievement. His sharpest success was blocking a former employee of him, Shelley Berkley, from winning Nevada’s senatorship; this small pleasure cost him $4 million.
The World’s Nightmare
This is where Netanyahu’s nightmare begins. Finkelstein claims that the newly formed Netanyahu-Lieberman party will win 45 seats in the next Knesset as opposed to the 42 they have now (Likud 27, Yisrael Beiteinu 15). The predicted increase is not significant enough to ensure a comfy government for Netanyahu. After finding the magnitude of Finkelstein’s error regarding the USA elections, Netanyahu is questioning his predictions for the Israeli ones. The only way he has open for ensuring his win is causing a calamity, that will distract the public from the social protests of the last year. Without losing even one second, Netanyahu rushed to his secret closet and pulled out a war-drum.
“Uvda” (“fact” in Hebrew) is a popular Channel 2 program dealing with actual issues. In its first program of the season—broadcast after the US elections—the main political and military leaders of Israel in 2010 spoke about the planned attack on Iran that year. The situation analyzed in this website back then was proved right. Netanyahu and Barak wanted war, while the IDF Chief of Staff, the Mossad Director and other military leaders opposed and won the inner battle. Despite my sympathy to this program, it is difficult to imagine why it would begin its season with old news. The riddle was soon solved. Netanyahu was interviewed there and said “If needed, we will act,” he said referring to a war with Iran. Netanyahu’s elections nightmare has become the world’s war nightmare.