Netanyahu Returns as Israel’s Premier

The corrupt leader is back for a sixth term.

Haaretz (“Israel Election Final Results: Netanyahu, Jewish Far Right Win Power, Fiasco for Left“):

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies won a decisive majority in Israel’s election, a final vote count on Thursday shows. Left-wing party Meretz was just a few thousand votes short of making it into the next Knesset, ending a three-decade-long era of political representation.

Likud won 32 seats, while outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid is the second-largest party with 24 seats, followed by the far-right Religious Zionism – headed by Bezalel Smotrich and Kahanist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir – which earned 14 seats.

AP (“Netanyahu set to return to power in Israel after PM concedes“):

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday appeared set to return to power as head of Israel’s most right-wing government ever after winning this week’s national election, with the current caretaker prime minister conceding defeat.

Final results showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party and its ultranationalist and religious partners capturing a solid majority in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament.

The strong showing promised to end the political gridlock that has paralyzed Israel for the past three and a half years. But the planned agenda of the new government expected to take office — including an overhaul of the country’s legal system and a tough line against the Palestinians — promises to further polarize a deeply divided nation and risks antagonizing Israel’s closest allies abroad.

Israel on Tuesday held its fifth election since 2019 in a race, like the previous four, that was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu’s fitness to rule as he faces corruption charges. While the previous races ended in deadlock, Netanyahu managed a disciplined campaign that gave him the edge over a divided and disorganized opposition.

The acting prime minister, Yair Lapid, conceded defeat and called Netanyahu to congratulate him shortly before the final results were released. Lapid said he had instructed his staff to prepare an organized transition of power.


The election focused heavily on the values that are meant to define the state: Jewish or democratic. In the end, voters favored their Jewish identity.

Netanyahu’s main governing partner is expected to be Religious Zionism, a far-right party whose main candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir has built a career on confrontations with Palestinians and espouses anti-Arab views that were once largely confined to an extremist fringe.

The party will be the third-largest in parliament.

Ben-Gvir says he wants to end Palestinian autonomy in parts of the occupied West Bank and maintain Israel’s occupation over the Palestinians, now in its 56th year, indefinitely. Until recently, he hung a photo in his home of a Jewish militant who murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers in a 1994 mosque shooting in the West Bank.

Ben-Gvir has labeled Arab lawmakers “terrorists” and called for their deportation. The far-right lawmaker, who recently brandished a pistol while visiting a tense Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem, wants to be put in charge of the country’s police force.

The party’s leader, Bezalel Smotrich, a fellow West Bank settler who has made anti-Arab remarks, has his sights set on the Defense Ministry. That would make him the overseer of the military and Israel’s West Bank military occupation.

Party officials favor aggressive settlement construction in the West Bank. They also have made repeated anti-LGBTQ comments.

These positions have threatened to antagonize American Jews, who are overwhelmingly liberal, and put Israel’s next government on a collision course with the Biden administration.

The White House on Thursday said it was looking forward to working with Israel on “our shared histories and values.”

But in a separate comment, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. hopes Israel “will continue to share the values of an open, democratic society, including tolerance and respect for all in civil society, particularly for minority groups.” He also reiterated support for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians – an idea with little, if any, support among the incoming government.

Italy’s new far-right premier, Giorgia Meloni, congratulated Netanyahu on Twitter. “Ready to strengthen our friendship and our bilateral relations, to better face our common challenges,″ she wrote.

Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, also congratulated Netanyahu, calling him “a friend of Hungary.”

As the votes were being counted, Israeli-Palestinian violence was flaring, with at least four Palestinians killed in separate incidents, and an Israeli police officer wounded lightly in a stabbing in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ben-Gvir used the incidents to promise a tougher approach to Palestinian attackers once he enters government.

“The time has come to restore security to the streets,” he tweeted. “The time has come for a terrorist who goes out to carry out an attack to be taken out!”

While Religious Zionism could cause Netanyahu headaches abroad, it could bring him relief at home.

The party has promised to enact changes to Israeli law that could halt Netanyahu’s corruption trial and make the charges disappear. Along with other nationalist allies, they also want to weaken the independence of the judiciary and concentrate more power in the hands of lawmakers. Netanyahu says the trial is a witch hunt against him orchestrated by a hostile media and a biased judicial system.

Netanyahu remains a deeply polarizing figure in Israel. If his coalition takes power and pushes forward with its war on the justice system, these divisions are likely to deepen.

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, was ousted in 2021 after 12 consecutive years in power by an ideologically-diverse coalition. The coalition collapsed in the spring over infighting.

The strong showing by Likud and its allies reflected a decades-long shift to the right by the Israeli electorate.

Both Likud and Religious Zionism tapped into fears over Palestinian violence in the West Bank, accused Lapid of being weak and demonized his government for being the first to include an Arab party in a coalition.

Israel’s dovish left wing, meanwhile, had an abysmal showing in the election. The Labor party, which was a dominant force in Israeli politics for decades and supports Palestinian statehood, squeaked into parliament with the minimum four seats. The anti-occupation Meretz was banished into political exile for the first time since it was founded three decades ago.

“This is a disaster for Meretz, a disaster for the country and yes, a disaster for me,” Meretz’s distraught leader, Zehava Galon, said in a video.

NYT reporters Yonette Joseph and Patrick Kingsley remind us, “Netanyahu Will Return With Corruption Charges Unresolved. Here’s Where the Case Stands.

Benjamin Netanyahu will make a remarkable comeback as Israel’s prime minister after the results of a general election, and the concession on Thursday of the current leader, Yair Lapid, put his right-wing bloc on a glide path to victory. But looming over his return is the unfinished business of the State of Israel v. Benjamin Netanyahu, a long-delayed felony corruption case.

Mr. Netanyahu, who faces a litany of bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges, has denied all accusations, vociferously attacking those who seek to prosecute him. The trial put Israel into uncharted territory, dominating political life and fueling a debate about the state of Israeli democracy and the country’s legal system.

Now, with his comeback as prime minister apparently assured, Mr. Netanyahu has said that he will not use his authority to upend the legal process in his corruption trial. But some of his coalition partners have signaled a different plan.


In February 2018, the police formally recommended that he be prosecuted. In November 2019, he was indicted, and the trial began in May 2020. The Jerusalem District Court made its way through a list of more than 300 witnesses. But the trial, originally expected to last a year or more, has been delayed several times for various reasons, including once when a central witness cited “personal reasons” in 2021, another time because of coronavirus restrictions, and again in February this year, when the judge in the case tested positive for Covid.


The corruption trial combines three separate cases, known as Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000. (Mr. Netanyahu was cleared in a fourth case, Case 3000, which concerned the government’s procurement of German-made submarines.) Mr. Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, is also said to have received gifts but is not a defendant in the trial.

One court is hearing all three cases at once, instead of one after the other, slowing down the prospect of a verdict any time soon.


To some, his decision not to resign was evidence of a dangerous selfishness. Other analysts said that Mr. Netanyahu’s decision not to step aside when indicted, as his predecessors Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Olmert had done when under investigation, was a national badge of shame and exposed a grave weakness that could become more critical the longer the trial lasted.

But to Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters, the trial was proof of a deep conspiracy against him.

Sound familiar?

NYT columnist Thomas Friedman declares “The Israel We Knew Is Gone.”

Imagine you woke up after the 2024 U.S. presidential election and found that Donald Trump had been re-elected and chose Rudy Giuliani for attorney general, Michael Flynn for defense secretary, Steve Bannon for commerce secretary, evangelical leader James Dobson for education secretary, Proud Boys former leader Enrique Tarrio for homeland security head and Marjorie Taylor Greene for the White House spokeswoman.

“Impossible,” you would say. Well, think again.

As I’ve noted before, Israeli political trends are often a harbinger of wider trends in Western democracies — Off Broadway to our Broadway. I hoped that the national unity government that came to power in Israel in June 2021 might also be a harbinger of more bipartisanship here. Alas, that government has now collapsed and is being replaced by the most far-far-right coalition in Israel’s history. Lord save us if this is a harbinger of what’s coming our way.

The coalition that Likud leader Bibi Netanyahu is riding back into power is the Israeli equivalent of the nightmare U.S. cabinet I imagined above. Only it is real — a rowdy alliance of ultra-Orthodox leaders and ultranationalist politicians, including some outright racist, anti-Arab Jewish extremists once deemed completely outside the norms and boundaries of Israeli politics. As it is virtually impossible for Netanyahu to build a majority coalition without the support of these extremists, some of them are almost certain to be cabinet ministers in the next Israeli government.

As that previously unthinkable reality takes hold, a fundamental question will roil synagogues in America and across the globe: “Do I support this Israel or not support it?” It will haunt pro-Israel students on college campuses. It will challenge Arab allies of Israel in the Abraham Accords, who just wanted to trade with Israel and never signed up for defending a government there that is anti-Israeli Arab. It will stress those U.S. diplomats who have reflexively defended Israel as a Jewish democracy that shares America’s values, and it will send friends of Israel in Congress fleeing from any reporter asking if America should continue sending billions of dollars in aid to such a religious-extremist-inspired government.

You have not seen this play before, because no Israeli leader has “gone there” before.

Netanyahu has been propelled into power by bedfellows who: see Israeli Arab citizens as a fifth column who can’t be trusted; have vowed to take political control over judicial appointments; believe that Jewish settlements must be expanded so there is not an inch left anywhere in the West Bank for a Palestinian state; want to enact judicial changes that could freeze Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial; and express contempt for Israel’s long and strong embrace of L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

Vox‘ Jonathan Guyer (“Netanyahu and the far right have triumphed. Here’s what it means for Israel.“):

To understand the complexity of the Knesset — Israel’s parliamentary system — and its radical shift toward extremism, I spoke with Daniel Levy, a keen observer of Israeli politics and former negotiator for the Israeli government in its peace talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He’s currently the president of the US/Middle East Project.

Levy’s major takeaway: “It’s important to not fall into the trap of just seeing this as an aberration. It might be an ‘upgrade’ in extremism, but I think it’s correct to place this on a continuum of the absorption into Israeli politics of the most extreme.”

Netanyahu and President Joe Biden, it also might be noted, have a long history. One of my first jobs out of college, in 2009, was working as a researcher on Levy’s team at a think tank, as we thought through how then-President Barack Obama might approach Israel-Palestine. The rockiness of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship cannot be understated. Obama sought a partial freeze of Israeli settlement growth in the occupied West Bank, but when then-Vice President Biden arrived on a trip to Israel, Netanyahu snubbed him and US policy by announcing the expansion of new settlement building in East Jerusalem.

I asked Levy about what another Netanyahu premiership would mean for America’s relationship with Israel, its closest Middle East partner. Though the prospects for an independent and viable Palestinian state seem less likely than ever, Levy offered a small dose of optimism. Since Biden has already visited Israel as president, he may have the clout and the cred to offer hard truths to an Israel whose policies toward Palestinians in the occupied territories and its own citizens are increasingly beyond the pale and in contradiction of human rights, let alone American values. It remains unlikely, however, as Biden did no such thing publicly on his trip to Israel in July.


Jonathan Guyer

What does this coalition look like? What is this more coherent government likely to look like?

Daniel Levy

Israel has a very pure form of proportional representation where the entire country is one district of 120 seats. This is super relevant in this election. As long as you hit a 3.25 percent threshold of support, you get representation in parliament, which means the smallest number of seats a party can get in the 120-seat Knesset is four. Then you build from there.

This is unusually small in terms of the number of parties that constitute this coalition. It will be composed of four party “lists.”

The Likud party is the traditional party of the right. As the center of gravity of Israeli politics has continually shifted rightward, so too has the Likud party. Likud have no qualms this time around. In the past it was, “Well can we really have been Ben Gvir in the government?” They’ve paved the way for that. There’s no question. No one today is saying, “Well, you know, this party is so extreme.” No one’s questioning it.

You have two parties representing the ultra-Orthodox Haredi public, who are the other big winners, by the way. They’ve scored a phenomenal success and increased their numbers. That does tend to happen when your community is having six, seven, eight, nine children per family and everyone else isn’t. So that demography is now manifesting itself in votes. So you have the two ultra-Orthodox factions: one representing the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox community, the other representing the Sefardi ultra-Orthodox community.

The fourth party is this amalgamation of hard-right, national-religious extremists, which is known as religious Zionism.

Jonathan Guyer

This fourth one is the Jewish Strength Party. Tell me about that. Israel has been drifting to the right as long as I can remember. But this is pretty extreme, bigoted, Jewish supremacist, homophobic party that is normalizing the Kahanist worldview.

Daniel Levy

This is now the third-largest party in the Israeli parliament. Just pa

use on that.

The third largest party in the Israeli parliament is a party that derives its ideological inspiration from the most extreme strand. Now, the leader of one element of this party is Ben Gvir, who everyone in Israel considers to be the big winner of the election. He’s a lawyer who tends to represent Jewish murderers of Palestinians, who commit terror acts, not in uniform, as civilians. Just before [Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin’s assassination [at the hands of a Jewish extremist in 1995], he appeared in a famous TV clip with the emblem of Rabin’s car, and he said, “We got to his car, and we’ll get to him, too.”

There’s a whole lot more but you get the drift.

The parallels with Donald Trump are obvious but Netanyahu is an incredibly shrewd and skilled politician and therefore much more effective. And, like it or not, he’s leading Israel in the direction it wants to go. Their system shows some of the dangers of multi-party democracy but it’s undeniably a more representative and responsive system than our own.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    I know I’m on GMT, but is no one else up?

    We should disengage from Israel. While I recognize that our military aid is self-serving, we should not be in bed with Likud.

  2. SKI says:

    And, like it or not, he’s leading Israel in the direction it wants to go. Their system shows some of the dangers of multi-party democracy but it’s undeniably a more representative and responsive system than our own.

    Is he? Every election, including the one Bibi lost, was 50/50.

    Unless the numbers shifted since yesterday morning, if the two left parties had combined, they would have reached threshold and Lapid would remain as PM with a deadlocked Knesset.

  3. DK says:

    Their system shows some of the dangers of multi-party democracy but it’s undeniably a more representative and responsive system than our own.

    If a more representative and responsive system means subjecting Americans to five election cycles in four years like Israel has endured, then I much prefer our relatively unrepresentative and unresponsive system. Israeli-style political instability is not anything for the US to envy or emulate. Israel makes US politics look like a paragon of calm.

    Hard pass on whatever multiparty chaos is Israel is doing. No thanks!

  4. gVOR08 says:

    Maybe it’s overwhelmed by the midterms, the war in Ukraine, the Trump follies, and whatever is today’s Dems in disarray story, but this Israeli election seemed to get almost no news coverage here compared to the last several.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: Yeah, I do international politics for a living and don’t think I’d heard anything before late Wednesday.

  6. Kathy says:


    Given the lengths of American campaigns, it would take ten years to have five election cycles in four years 😉

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @DK: Exactly. I call BS on the “more representative” trope. It seems to me that all too often in a parliamentary system where there are many parties vying for the vote, the result is that extreme and narrowly focused parties are given carte blanche over specific government functions in exchange for their few votes. Is it representative of the will of the Israeli public as a whole that only extremely Orthodox Jewish religious officials get to decide who gets married and divorced? Is it representative that the State continues to steal land from Palestinians in the occupied territory and subsidies are given to racist Israelis to settle there? Is it representative that massive amounts of tax dollars are extracted from non-orthodox or non-Jewish citizens and given to draft-exempt “students” who do nothing but study Torah all day and will never hold a job in their lives?

    Israeli is the poster child of the foolishness of the “more choice is better” school of thought unless, of course, you define “better” as simply “more choice” and are satisfied with the tautology

  8. Scott says:

    @James Joyner: To get almost any useful international news in this country, you have to just stream the feeds from Al-Jazeera, Euronews, Sky News, NHK, Deutsch Welle, etc. I can’t vouch for their “goodness” but it’s better than we get here from cable news.

  9. DK says:

    @MarkedMan: I mean…

    …rarely has a nail been hit so squarely on the head. You are right.

    As I have often said here, I just don’t get why people think breaking the two major American party coalition into separate, smaller factions in bloodsport competition with each other should somehow cause less political dysfunction, not more. There’s not a whole lot of evidence for that.

    At least now, Cori Bush and AOC are incentivized to make common cause with Tim Ryan and Abigail Spanberger, to focus more on their shared Democratic Party values than on their differences. What would ripping away their shared partisan identify achieve, besides putting them at greater loggerheads?

  10. grumpy realist says:

    I wonder at what point the major supporters of Israel in the U.S. will be the Christian Zionists eagerly slavering at the mouth for the Apocalypse.

  11. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I think they have been the most zealous for a while.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist: What CSK said. The bulk of support on the Republican side is from end-times loons. If I had to bet I would say that even the Jewish Republicans, at least the ones to whom Israel is most important, are Republicans because the end-time loons who exert such control over the party will support Israel’s expansion at literally any cost, regardless of morality.

  13. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: I will refrain from making the accusation that better government equals government that “I” approve of (though that conclusion is an available interpretation of the statement) and simply note no political philosophers I am aware of have argued that democratic style governance will be “better” in whatever construct you select, merely that they will more closely reflect a system that is more palatable to what ever groups cobble themselves together to become “the majority.”

  14. just nutha says:

    On the other hand, it would seem that conservatism is emerging as the dominant political force over the world. It must be time for the good conservatives to rise up, take back their movement, and usher in the opportunity society they’ve been promising for generations now. Utopia (perhaps literally) is coming!!

  15. Sleeping Dog says:


    Many of the world’s democracies have multi party systems and don’t suffer the issues that Israel’s does. At the heart of Israel’s electoral issues is the fact that the threshold for gaining seats in the Knesset is pitifully low, IIRC, 3.5%, allowing the vote to be splintered and no party able to build a large coalition. Add to that, the fact that no governing majority want the Arab party in its government makes the situation worse.

    So postulating that somehow our dysfunctional 2 party is superior because it is 2 parties is asinine.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    @just nutha:

    I’d argue that it is not conservative governance that is on the rise, but populist.

  17. DK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    So postulating that somehow our dysfunctional 2 party is superior because it is 2 parties is asinine.

    It’s asinine to insist the US is a two-party system, but I won’t open up that can of worms again.

    At any rate, the superiority of the American system to multiparty systems or to any other general partisan system is not what I postulated. I postulated that breaking up America’s two dominant parties into smaller parties will not only not solve our political problems, but would just as likely make them worse.

    Some governments have multiparty systems and do suffer the same dysfunction as Israel and America. Some governments have one or two dominant parties and do fine. So now what? My point is the deck chairs don’t magically get less crazy just because you rearrange them.

    The problem is not the system, it’s the people in it. Among us Americans are too many stupid, selfish, sexist, spiritually sick, racist, intellectually lazy Philistines. Who, instead of being called out and held to account to do and be better, are instead coddled and rationalized by those of us who are supposed to know better. That’s the problem.

    Countries with better, smarter, more emotionally intelligent, less bigoted people get better outcomes. Having grown up in exurban Georgia around Herschel Walkers and Marjorie Taylor-Greenes, now traveled extensively (I am just back from Brussels, Belgium) I have to admit: by comparison, too many Americans are garbage people. Assholes. Bigots. Unethical. Etc. No, not all, not even most. But far too many. And they vote. That’s the problem in the US.

  18. just nutha says:

    @DK: “At least now, Cori Bush and AOC are incentivized to make common cause with Tim Ryan and Abigail Spanberger, to focus more on their shared Democratic Party values than on their differences.”

    This strikes me as naïve even though I used to hope it happened, too. Then again, I’m the bigoted, misogynistic, whyte incel with mommy issues from yesterday, so who cares what I think anyway?

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @DK: I see ethno-nationalism rising not only here and in Hungary, but also in Sweden. It may be that Europeans are on the whole better educated, better informed, better natured, or better something. But I’d ask for data.

    I think you’re right that our problem is garbage people, but I see them mostly in GOP leadership. People who stoop to any depth and tell any lie to keep their “populist” base in line behind their plutocrat donors.

    Karl Popper talks a lot about the need for an open system that can accommodate bad leaders, because history says that’s what you’re likely to get. Unfortunately, he’s short on advice on how to get such a system.

  20. just nutha says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Fair enough, I’m just observing that the kinds of governance arising seem to match what conservatives are seeking/calling for. Then again, I’m the bigoted, misogynistic, whyte, incel from yesterday, so…

  21. Tony W says:

    Everything old is new again. I happened to re-watch the first episode of All in the Family yesterday, out of nostalgia, and I swear it could have been written today.

  22. CSK says:

    @Tony W:
    Somewhat OT, but Boston Globe readers voted AITF the best show of all time.

  23. DK says:

    @just nutha:

    Then again, I’m the bigoted, misogynistic, whyte incel with mommy issues from yesterday, so who cares what I think anyway?

    I didn’t name anyone here specifically, but you know better than I whether or not the shoe fits. A hit dog will holler, and if you’re still triggered a day later that might be your conscience speaking to you.

    All I know is men of a certain age and hue (not all or most, thank gawd) have a ridiculous, comical level of antipathy towards Hillary Clinton that is ludicrously disproportionate to anything that she has actually said or done. It’s a little bit disturbing and frankly patholgical, and more than a little responsible for some of the current mess. Would that they would do some self-examination on what exactly their problem is, that a supermajority of their votes went to the Orange Menace over her, while the rest of us saw through the stupidity of the National Bitch Hunt they authored and fell for.

  24. DK says:

    @gVOR08: Ethno-nationalists exist everywhere. Countries move forward and stumble back. But there is no one-to-one comparison between Sweden’s immigrant anxieties and ours. An “ethno-nationalist” reaction in Sweden will still look like child’s play compared to ours; there are some places Sweden is not going go.

    Not to mention that “on the rise” doesn’t say much, it’s such a weasely phrase. Rising from a baseline of 10% to a ceiling of 20% is not the same as rising from a baseline of 40% to a ceiling of 55%. We are told black support for Republicans is “on the rise.” Cool story, so instead of winning two black voters, you won three. Congratulations, bake yourself a cake.

    Data cannot capture everything. I know what I see, hear, and experience. Are Europeans perfect? No. Are all Europeans good people. No. Are Europeans, with ex emotions, on balance better people than Americans on balance? Sure they are. How and when that happened, I have no idea.

  25. just nutha says:

    @DK: And yet you offered no comment on the substance of my comment. Is silence agreement?

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: You misunderstand me. I believe that the structure of government matters a great deal. It seems intuitive to me that certain structures and mechanisms are more likely to result in better governance. And what you say about Israel having sub-par governance because of the low threshold makes sense. What frustrates me about the conversations here is that so many seem to simply equate better outcomes with more choices.

    I recognize that in I n this specific case James did not say exactly that, but he did say that the Israeli government was more representative than ours. I pointed out that major Israeli policies are set by people representing minority views and therefore it’s hard to call that “more representative”.

    Maybe it’s my narrow engineering mind but it seems to me that the basis for judging the quality of electoral system is the quality of the resultant government. I would think the social scientists studying this would a) define good governance, b) rank the 200+ counties according to those metrics, c) identify what electoral structures and mechanisms they have in common.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @just nutha:

    I will refrain from making the accusation that better government equals government that “I” approve of (though that conclusion is an available interpretation of the statement)

    Quite the contrary. I think social scientists are free to posit any set of metrics they care to and base their comparisons on that. If anyone were to ask me (and they most certainly are not!) I would suggest things like ability to respond to and anticipate challenges, in categories like financial, environmental, severe weather, or epidemic disease. I would also suggest growth in the median standard of living, the availability of health care and clean water to the poorest. I could go on. But I’m not a social scientist and so people more versed in this than me could certainly come up with a better set of metrics.

    As I said before, it may be my narrow way of looking at things, but it seems to me that if social scientists are going to start declaring things better or worse they should be prepared to define “better” and “worse”.

  28. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “I wonder at what point the major supporters of Israel in the U.S. will be the Christian Zionists eagerly slavering at the mouth for the Apocalypse.”

    I think it was last Tuesday.

  29. SKI says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Add to that, the fact that no governing majority want the Arab party in its government makes the situation worse.

    The exiting government had an Arab party in it.

  30. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m not sure myself that defining “better” and “worse” isn’t a fools errand in a society where deconstruction and constructed reality may well be the prime tools of argument. Too many topics degenerate into quarrels and beyond that, many discussions will founder of the rocks of “I reject your definition.” But yes, particularly in Social Science approaches, the person making the argument should define the terms if for no other reason than that people who want definitions will know whether to pursue the discussion.

    As to the particular goals that you suggest as the most worthwhile, the traditional arguments I hear is that governments in general and liberal governments in particular have noticable and notworthy inability to react in a timely fashion and generally do so in a ham-handed manner. I hear this argument from my brother almost every time we discuss politics. Beyond that point are the arguments related to the virtues of letting the market do its magic on elevating the median standard of living (although my own take is that the bifurcation of the classes is more the problem than the median, which is, in fact growing just fine although leaving the rafts swamped in the wake of the rising tide lifting the Bezos superyacht). There is also the possibility that government is simply incapable of bringing healthcare and clean water to the poorest depending on what government you’re asking to do it. Lots of stuff to quarrel about here. I don’t envy you taking the task on.

    And of course, on the structure and mechanisms to use, for me anyway the key feature is that the system is only as good as the people using it and the business administration corollary that nothing is foolproof in the hands of a fool. (But that observation kills the discussion, so I might not go there.)

  31. just nutha says:

    @SKI: “The exiting government had an Arab party in it.”

    I think the key word in your example is “had.”

  32. SKI says:

    @just nutha: No, it is “exiting”. If Labor had agreed to merge with the other small left party, they wouldn’t be exiting and the Israeli Government would still have an Arab party in it.

  33. Gustopher says:

    Countries really need to figure out how to jail their corrupt leaders.

  34. Gustopher says:


    I didn’t name anyone here specifically, but you know better than I whether or not the shoe fits. A hit dog will holler, and if you’re still triggered a day later that might be your conscience speaking to you.

    Oh, cut the bullshit. You responded to him directly and specifically with a “general statement.”

    If you want to be an asshole, be an asshole, but at least own up to what you’re doing.

    Like here, there’s no doubt that I mean you, DK, rather than the general and generic “you” that means potentially anyone and everyone.

    I’m sorry your feelings are hurt that people don’t like Hillary Clinton. When she opens up, as she did in her first Senate campaign, she is actually very likable. She was way behind when she entered that race, did a “listening” tour of the state, did countless interviews from policy to personal and tying the two together, made connections and turned it around. She was genuine and people liked that.

    But she apparently hates being vulnerable in public and has never been willing to campaign that way again. She shouldn’t have run for President if she couldn’t/wouldn’t do that. She was a bad candidate.

  35. DK says:


    She was way behind when she entered that race, did a “listening” tour of the state, did countless interviews from policy to personal and tying the two together, made connections and turned it around. She was genuine and people liked that.

    But she apparently hates being vulnerable in public and has never been willing to campaign that way again. She shouldn’t have run for President if she couldn’t wouldn’t do that. She was a bad candidate.

    Most white men are bad voters who are assholes when it comes to politics and to Hillary Clinton. But Hillary Clinton was as good a candidate as any who ever ran. In this misogynistic, bigoted, unintelligent society, a woman candidate cannot win the popular vote and come within a hair of the presidency by being bad at it.

    Anyone who has grown up in America, bathing daily in its white nonsense, understands that some white men think they are only people who count, but again: it’s not that “people” don’t like Hillary Clinton. It’s white people, in particular white men and even more specifically aging white men. Black people, gays etc adore Hillary Clinton, please stop erasing our existence. *We* were right about Hillary and Trump all along. The majority of white men (not all, thank goodness) were and are stubbornly and arrogantly wrong. That’s why they gave a supermajority of their votes to an asshole like Trump, one of the biggest asshole moves by any voting demographic ever. But one which surprised no minority who grew up among American white men.

    In fact, Hillary opened both her campaigns with listening tours. Intimate, personal events and connections were the hallmark of her campaign style, in contrast to aloof, distanced rallies. Per usual, most white men were not paying attention, drunk on the loudmouth ravings of the decidedly unlikeable Bernie and Trump, who have never shown an ounce of vulnerability. Spare me the horsecrap sexist double standards about “likeabiity” and “vulnerability,” hoary tropes the a-hole demographic somehow never trots out for male candidates.

    When Hillary left the State Department, she polled as one of the most liked politicians in America. Did she suddenly change at near 70 years old? No. What happene: we could not count on most (not all) white male voters to not fall for smears, lies, and propaganda. Per usual.

    The reality is every accusation Hillary’s critics make of her is actually true of the highly unlikeable “we are the smartest people in the room” white male electorate. Instead of scapegoating Hillary, they should ask themselves what is wrong with them that they continually fall for the bs the rest of us see through.

    I’m not sorry that white fragility has been triggered by hearing the unvarnished truth about the average American white male voter. But don’t feel sorry for me: my people overcame slavery and Jim Crow, will overcome Trumpism too. I can get up and to move to Europe whenever I want. Feel sorry for America’s democratic republic. Which is wobbling because too many white and white male voters can’t stop being assholes at the ballot box.

    Unlikeable? Ha. Look in the mirror, fellas. And tell your brothers, fathers, uncles, golfing buddies, and sons to do the same. It’s not me and mine giving most of our votes to proto-fascists.