Netanyahu's end? A Shakespearian tragedy

Do we have the makings of a Shakespearian tragedy or will there be a twist in the tale?

Barry Shaw

OpEds גנץ, ריבלין ונתניהו
גנץ, ריבלין ונתניהו
The final intrigues are being plotted behind closed curtains. Deals are brewing, but the hero is left to stew. Alone.

A plot is afoot. Is a leader about to be toppled? Suddenly. Instantly. To be banished from the world stage to serve in sad opposition alongside Arabs he did not trust and religious Jews whose parties backed him.

Is this the tragic political end of Benjamin Netanyahu? Truly a man who could hold his own among world leaders. Has he been brought down by hubris? Is he seeing himself with two sad choices? To sit with the losers in opposition. Or to see his day in court. Power seems to have been grabbed from his hand with shocking suddenness.

A national leader who strode the world with pride and authority. a hero who carried his country on his prestigious shoulders for decades, is brought down in the final scene to face an uncertain future.

There is much in the Netanyahu tale that echoes a Shakespearean tragedy.

In a sense, the personal history of Netanyahu resembles the character of Macbeth, the Scottish king in William Shakespeare’s play, whose downfall can be attributed to blind ambition and to the political interference of his wife, Lady Macbeth. Sarah Netanyahu always wanted to play Israel’s First Lady, though prime ministers are not presidents who travel the world with their wives on display. This did not sit kindly with the Israeli media which hated her from the first. She was, they thought, acting above her station.

Much has been written and said about the alleged tantrums of Lady Netanyahu and her supposed intrigues against individuals she did not like.  The media forgot that Israelis were not voting for her. Luckily for Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary was not taken into account when voting for him.

This, in part, took the gilt off her husband and exposed him to a fate too ignoble to be borne by a proud hero.

In the case of the Macbeths of Balfour Street there is no death of Duncan, only a badly wounded Likud Party lying bleeding in the Knesset.

But will there be a twist in the tale?

Will the challenger Gantz, who raised his banner and drew the crowd with two more seats than Netanyahu but does not have enough partners on his side to form a coalition, find it in his heart to embrace the hero, who has two less seats but a larger bloc, into a unity pact?

Will Netanyahu loyalists come to honor him in his days of loss and join him on the sad benches of the defeated?  Or will the long knives come out to banish and replace a leader who, in the end, failed them? Will they ignore their debt of gratitude to him for their vaunted positions and, in their selfish efforts, abandon him to join their political rivals in government?

Will Netanyahu instead take the poisoned chalice and resign as leader of his party to face the charges of corruption alone, charges he and many others always claimed were a coup to replace him as his nation’s leader?

Or is there another surprise ending?

Surely the makings of a Shakespearean tragedy.

Barry Shaw.  Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.