Schneider Aviel

MembersVillain and Messiah

Will the anointed one, or “Messiah” in Hebrew, Benjamin Netanyahu be re-elected?

Can Netanyahu be both Messiah and villain?
Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the government's handling of the Coronavirus crisis, in Tel Aviv, on January 30, 2021. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** קורונה הפגנה הבימה קורונה וירוס טיפול כלכלה ממשלה כיכר בנימין נתניהו ראש ממשלה Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90

“Putin is a villain. Trump is a villain. But the smartest villain of all is our Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” With these words, a friend explained to me why he always votes for Bibi.

“We need a villain, a crook at the top, because we live in a crazy and wild region,” he continued. “Bibi is the only one who can deal with the Arab dictators in our neighborhood. He can’t be ripped off. That is more important to me than having him set a moral example.” This opinion is shared by a great many of the prime minister’s fans, who are known in Israel as “Bibistim.” What those fans see as the prime minister’s advantage, Netanyahu’s opponents see as his biggest flaw. They don’t want a villain at the top.

As Israeli television news commentator Tom Aharon put it: “The fact that most people keep voting for Netanyahu (or parties that will help make him prime minister) is not in spite of the charges against him, but thanks to the charges and trials against...

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