January 19, 2019

The Historical Reasons for Bibi's Embrace of Strongmen

“Tuesday’s planned visit by Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini – leader of the radical right-wing League party, which is known for its hardline stance on refugees (he recently prevented a ship full of asylum seekers, including children and pregnant women, from docking) – has once again sparked discussion about Israel’s increasingly close ties with right-wing governments in Europe and outside it. These relationships, which Israel is cultivating, raise a rather banal issue relating to the space between realpolitik and traditional diplomacy.

It goes without saying that Israel – which, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly says, is enjoying one of its best moments ever from the standpoint of foreign relations – can’t be too choosy about its friends. And that’s especially true at a time when many governments in the Western world are characterized by anti-liberal views.

Today, Israel has excellent relations even with governments (like those in Poland, Hungary and Austria) that combine the seemingly contradictory characteristics of anti-Semitic attitudes and admiration for the Jewish state. How is it possible to reconcile this contradiction?”

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