Tuesday, October 6, 2009

As Churchill, Netanyahu expects the US to be on the Side of Freedom

( Aluf Benn-Haaretz). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an admirer of Winston Churchill and views him as a role model, not only because of the cigar smoking, the love of history and the hobnobbing with millionaires. Netanyahu admires Churchill because of his warning against the rise of the Nazis, which isolated Churchill politically and branded him as an extremist warmonger during Britain's conciliatory period toward Hitler.

Netanyahu identifies with the feeling of being a small minority that is right, warning against the danger while being ignored by the majority, which goes about enjoying itself until he is called from the political sidelines to save his people. Netanyahu compared himself to Churchill when he opposed the Oslo Accords and earned the hostility of the Israeli "elites" who supported the Oslo process.

He saw his election in 1996 as a mission to save the nation and stop Oslo, as Churchill was appointed prime minister after his dark prophecies came true in World War II.

During his decade out of power, Netanyahu found his Nazi Germany in Iran. He stood at the head of the people warning against the terror of Iranian nuclear power in the face of the indifference of the Israeli public and international community. When he declared two years ago that "the year is 1938 and Iran is Germany," the hidden message was "Ahmadinejad is Hitler and I am Churchill." When he returned to power, thwarting the Iranian threat was for Netanyahu a central aim. The wars in Lebanon and Gaza helped Netanyahu adopt another aspect of the Churchill legacy, the bombings of German cities. When Israel is criticized for bombing Beirut and Gaza, Netanyahu responds by mentioning Dresden and Hamburg. He commonly says Britain and the United States killed many more German civilians during World War II than vice versa, yet it is clear who was the aggressor and who was the justified side in that war. In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu mentioned how Churchill had warned that he was not heeded until the threat actually materialized, and alluded to him as the bomber of Dresden. Churchill was great as a leader in war and an artist in public relations and marshaling public opinion. But even the greatest leader cannot tilt the balance of power only by virtue of his charisma. Churchill understood this well and did not delude himself that Britain alone would overcome Hitler. So he made enormous efforts to bring the United States into the war.