If you follow Israeli politics at all, you might’ve read that Bibi Netanyahu’s in trouble. Which, as news stories go, is a bit of an evergreen: the second-longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history has been accused of wrongdoing so many times that you can’t help wondering whether he’s an innocent man hounded by a corrupt bureaucracy or a corrupt man unharmed by a bumbling judiciary. Both options are terrifying, but neither, really matter, because when Netanyahu’s in a tight spot, he turns directly to his voters and rekindles that old love affair with a fiery speech. He did just that yesterday evening in Tel Aviv, and he was electric as always, but this time around, he sounded a lot like a certain someone.

“Do you remember that the fake news media pumped us up, like a mighty choir, that if we don’t withdraw from our ancestral homeland Israel will be isolated, weak, and neglected? In the words of one old man with a new beard”—the dig was at former prime minister Ehud Barak, who had gone full post-2000-election Al Gore, reinventing himself as a blunt-talking, bearded alpha man—“the diplomatic tsunami is on the way. What tsunami? The stream of visits to Israel, and the stream of invitations I get to visit abroad, are both unprecedented.”

And lest the throngs that packed the convention center to hear their man speak have any doubt who’s to blame for all of Israel’s ills, Netanyahu, taking another page from Donald Trump, railed at length against the press. The media and the Israeli left, Netanyahu thundered, “are now enlisted in an obsessive and unprecedented hunting trip against me and my family. Their goal is to exert illegitimate and unending pressure on law enforcement officials and pressure them into indicting me at any cost, no matter the truth. What a celebration of hypocrisy, moral preening, and double standards… Soon, they’ll even drag Kaya”—that would be the Netanyahus’ dog—“into their investigations.”

This went on for nearly 40 minutes, with Netanyahu occasionally—and Trumply—speaking of himself in the third person and referring, often, to his electoral successes. And then, with his fans applauding, he ended with the zen koan that has become his mantra: “there will be nothing, because there was nothing.” The audience, understanding exactly what he meant, cheered on.





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