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Taube: The right man to lead Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, centre, takes a selfie with U.S. soldiers in southern Israel on March 6. (U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/CC BY 2.0)

When Israelis go back to the ballot boxes on April 9, the wisest course of action would be to re-elect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party.

What a surprise, many of you are probably thinking, a right-leaning columnist and political commentator has endorsed Israel’s right-leaning prime minister and government. The next thing you know, he’ll suggest the sky is blue, the grass is green and Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are figments of our imagination!

Nevertheless, there are many political and economic reasons why Netanyahu is not only good for Israel, but for the world.

Netanyahu is an intelligent, articulate leader. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, he lived for a time in the United States, where he graduated with a master’s degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management and worked at Boston Consulting Group with Utah senator and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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Once coined the “Jewish Ronald Reagan” by Jack Kemp, a former Republican congressman and 1996 vice-presidential candidate, Netanyahu has been a true champion of fiscal conservatism and the free market economy. As prime minister, he’s overseen a massive growth in private Israeli enterprises, greater investment in Israeli-run businesses and initiatives, and has endorsed workfare rather than welfare and the need to break down the state-run monopolies and bureaucratic institutions that can cripple a country’s economy.

There has never been a bigger advocate in Israel for small-c conservative principles than Netanyahu – never.

In turn, the Israeli prime minister developed strong relationships with right-leaning politicians. This includes U.S. presidents like Ronald Reagan (who notably recommended Netanyahu’s 1987 book, Terrorism: How the West Can Win, at every turn), George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Other world leaders, from former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher to former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, respected his abilities and talents.

Two Canadian prime ministers, Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper, also had excellent relationships with Netanyahu. The Israeli PM once called Harper “a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people.”

A file photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, visiting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper last year in Ottawa.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, meets with then-prime minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa in 2014.

Naturally, foreign policy plays a significant role in defining the success or failure of an Israeli government, no matter its political stripe. As far as I’m concerned, Netanyahu has been an enormous success in this area.

For instance, he has powerfully defended Israel against its enemies. Whether the threat has come from terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, Arab extremists or despotic countries like Iran, Netanyahu has spoken out and, when needed, retaliated against their vitriol and military attacks. The safety and security of the Jewish homeland is important to Netanyahu. He will always recognize this responsibility as his first political priority.

He also believes in peace in the Middle East, but not peace at all costs. His 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University – in which he stated that, “Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people,” and that, “Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarized, with solid security measures … to ensure peace. We don’t want them to bring in missiles, or rockets, or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hezbollah” – still resonates to this day. If there’s to be peace, this is the model that should be used.

Netanyahu also recognizes that building political bridges is the best way to decrease anti-Semitism and reduce long-standing tensions that some still have with Jews and with Israel. That’s why he’s been working with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Instead of buying into the left-wing idea that they’re far-right anti-Semites (which they’re not), he’s made common cause with two fiscally conservative leaders who have similar views about politics, economics and Israel. It’s the right strategy to take.

For these reasons, and many others, I believe Netanyahu should be re-elected as Israel’s ninth prime minister. He’s the best choice to lead the Jewish people.

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