November 19, 2019

Bibi and Trump Both Had Quite the Week

“Judging by their eerily identical reactions to their strikingly similar predicaments, U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are leading parallel lives. Both have run afoul of the law. Both are fighting for their lives. Both have responded by discrediting their investigators and prosecutors, undermining the rule of law, conjuring sinister conspiracies and, ultimately, defying democracy itself.

To Israeli ears, Trump’s reactions to his Ukraine train wreck often sound like an untethered cover version of Netanyahu’s litanies against his imminent indictments. Political persecution? Check. Innocent victim? Check. Partisan prosecutors? Check. Witch-hunt? Check. Attempted “coup”? Check. Netanyahu’s been there and done that.

Both leaders also seem similarly incapable of recognizing their own wrongdoings. Both are portraying their investigation and prosecution as an assault on their entire political camp. “It’s not me they’re after, it’s you!” Trump told his voters last week. It’s a line that Netanyahu has often used in the past.

Their responses are so similar that one is tempted to assume that Trump and Netanyahu are advising each other or reading from the same “How to get away with murder” spinoff playbook. Circumstantial evidence shows that Netanyahu, for one, has certainly been inspired by Trump’s no-holds-barred audacity. The prime minister’s willingness to flout norms, ignore traditions and upend Israeli democracy would have been inconceivable had Trump not set a precedent and shown him the way.”

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