Can Bibi Be Beaten?

Apr 17 2012 @ 4:00pm

Bernard Avishai forecasts Israel's upcoming election:

The first thing to say is that Netanyahu is, in spite of his lead in the polls, vulnerable. The parties of Global Israel—Labor, Kadima, Yair Lapid’s new center list, Meretz, etc.—lack an obvious leader just now (except for the perennial figurehead, Shimon Peres). But they are held together by a mounting and widely shared fear that the two-state solution is slipping away; fear of new and catastrophic political isolation owing to Netanyahu’s ideology and recklessness. Educated Israelis fear losing advantages in global commercial networks that depend so much on personal connections, including visits to Israel. They fear cultural boycott. This kind of thing can trickle down.

His view of Obama's influence on the race:

What can Obama do? Actually, he’s already done it. First, he has to look like he can win. The mere plausibility of an Obama victory will prompt low-grade panic among middle class Israelis, political analysts, etc., about Netanyahu’s past efforts to play him. Second, Obama must keep doing what he’s been doing on Iran. Netanyahu’s trump card is the Iranian threat. Many assumed he had cornered Obama, leaving him no choice but to “finish the job” if, as the American election approached, Israel attacked Iran unilaterally. But Obama slipped Netanyahu’s trap and pretty much put Netanyahu in one of his own.