We at +972 Magazine had a brief round-up of people who made 2010. The first place went eventually to unlawfully imprisoned non-violence leader Abdullah Abu Rahmah, the answer to the question of “where is the Palestinian Gandhi?”. It’s a fine choice and an important one, but my vote remains firmly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Here’s my brief note explaining why:
Benjamin Netanyahu is not only one of the people who made 2010 what it was, but also one of the best prime ministers progressives ever had. To wit: The man has done more damage to the self destructive myth of Israeli exceptionalism than any leftist leader or thinker to date.
For years, progressives in the US tried to wean their country of its belief that Israel can do no wrong, and progressives in the rest of the world tried to persuade their leaders the US was too infatuated with its hysterical little ally ever to apply any of the pressure necessary to achieve progress on any front in the Middle East.
And lo and behold, Netanyahu accomplished both, sending such stalwart friends of Israel as Jeffrey Goldberg, Christopher Hitchens, Peter Beinart and David Remnick howling up the wall, and getting American mainstream media to start asking questions about the benefits of this special relationship. Meanwhile, Latin America and the European Union tired of snapping their fingers before the eyes of a bedazzled United States, shrugged, and began weaving their own Middle East policy. Even the legitimization of the occupation through the premature thaw with the United Arab Emirates has been brought to a grinding halt.
And last but not least – while the lives of Gaza residents and flotilla activists lost under Netanyahu’s government are not to be ignored or dismissed, in terms of real damage, the man’s government killed less people than any government since Rabin. He appears positively humane compared to the reeking pile of corpses from Gaza and Lebanon dragged by his “moderate” opponent Tzipi Livni on her mantles of state, and the equally impressive pools of blood waded in by other “left” candidates – ie, former defense ministers Ehud Barak, Dan Halutz and Shaul Mofaz. He also built fewer settlements than any other Israeli prime minister. We are paying a price inside Israel – but Netanyahu may well be remembered as a calm interlude between hypocritical goons and outright totalitarians.