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Netanyahu, Man in Full

Bibi gets the ‘Vanity Fair’ treatment, and Israel captured by Platon

Marc Tracy
June 07, 2012

I’m going to just suggest you read Tablet Magazine contributing editor David Margolick’s solid profile of Prime Minister Netanyahu in the new Vanity Fair (and don’t miss the accompanying slide show by Platon!). It is impressively comprehensive; it’s difficult to think of a base left uncovered. I gather from the reception of Margolick’s piece that many were unaware that Sheldon Adelson created Israel HaYom—now Israel’s highest-circulation daily—to buttress his political friend Bibi. (For the record, Israel HaYom‘s English-language newsletter, edited by friend-of-The Scroll Amir Mizroch, rarely feels slanted.) I didn’t know the full extent to which some worry about Netanyahu’s wife Sara—her alleged impetuousness and destabilizing emotional effect on her husband. (It certainly puts in a new light this interview she just gave to a German publication, in which she called her husband her “best friend.”)

I wish I had read the profile before writing my post this morning on Netanyahu’s awkward settlement “compromise,” in which with one hand he opposed a bill that would have attempted to legalize an illegal West Bank neighborhood, and with the other hand approved 850 more houses in other settlements. Margolick effectively gets to the heart of the paradoxical way in which the unity government has weakened Netanyahu:

Invincibility cuts both ways: with settlers and other right-wingers at his side, Netanyahu has always had an excuse to do nothing with the Palestinians. The handicapping is that he still won’t, his new partners notwithstanding. But his days as a cipher may be numbered. Having shown—yet again—his paramount political skills, he may now have to reveal who he really is.

Another juicy bit:

But one charge clearly infuriates him: that [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak, a hugely unpopular figure in Israel whom Netanyahu has rescued from political oblivion, is driving him.

“Oh, totally!’ he scoffs. “He spins me on his little finger.”

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.