Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now surpassed David Ben-Gurion to become the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israel’s modern history. Netanyahu has already won five elections, and, facing a sixth, finds himself on the cover of the upcoming TIME Magazine.
“Bibi is preparing for yet another campaign, a September do-over election that will test yet again whether the Israel that has grown to resemble its Prime Minister—prosperous, powerful and resilient, yet insecure—still wants him,” reads the TIME article about Israel’s Prime Minister.
In the multi-page headliner dedicated to Netanyahu, who served as a Captain in the Seret Matkal, or General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, a special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Prime Minister recalls some of his most daring exploits. Like the Sabena Flight 571 jetliner that was hijacked by four Palestinian terrorists in 1972. “That’s me up there, I think,” Netanyahu says, pointing to a photograph of the commandos storming the plane disguised as technicians. “The way we stopped the hijacking then was to burst through the doors and do whatever we did.” What Netanyahu didn’t mention is that the team of 16 Israeli commandos that neutralized the terrorists and rescued the 100 or so passengers and crew was led by Ehud Barak, one of Netanyahu’s political rivals in the upcoming election.
TIME Magazine is not always fair in its coverage of Israel, and the feature article on Netanyahu is overly critical of the Prime Minister’s so-called “abuses of power” and “anti-Arab” rhetoric. Included it a quote from Barak, who says of Netanyahu’s time in office: “These are dark days the likes of which we have not known before. The Netanyahu regime must be toppled.”
In response, Netanyahu points out how Israel is helping lead the entire world in counterterrorism, citing the time ISIS planned to blow up a passenger airline in midair between Sydney and Abu Dhabi in 2017. “We used our cyber-tools to discover that ISIS was going to do this. So we alerted Australian police, and they stopped this before it happened,” Netanyahu said. “Multiply that 50 times, that will give you an idea of the contribution that Israel has made to prevent major terrorist operations. This affects every country in the world, it affects every person in the world,” the Prime Minister told TIME.
Biased as the article is, TIME cannot avoid acknowledging some of the Israeli leader’s accomplishments. “By advancing Israel’s military prowess, Netanyahu believes, a country about the size of New Jersey with a population roughly the size of New York City has secured a unique place in history,” TIME writes. “A strong and innovative military, he argues, combined with an embrace of capitalism, has translated into globe-spanning success in technology, business and diplomacy. It’s a major achievement, in Netanyahu’s telling, worth the considerable costs,” the article reads. “I don’t look at my survival,” Netanyahu tells TIME. “I look at the survival of the country, its durability, its future.”