Image 1 of 17: Commitment shmittment: Despite the US intense effort to revive Palestinian peace talks after 3 years stalemate, Bibi gave the green light to almost 100 settlements, no regard to the halting of settlements being a key Palestinian demand. By 2013, settlement activity has increased by 70%, proving Bibi is not committed to peace.
Image 1 of 17: Conservative carelessness? For all his hardline right wingedness, Netanyahu has made some ‘right’ boo-boos when in office. Through his meetings with Arafat, Bibi became the only Likud PM to concede “Israeli” land in the West Bank to Palestine. It did decrease violence, but spurred on a spew of abuse from his Zionist supporters.
Image 1 of 17: Holier than thou? Bibi and his former Defence Minister Ehud Barak were slammed for their right wing politics and their stubborn conservative agenda - they were accused of being out of touch with the middle class and were dubbed the “messiahs of Akirov and Caesarea” - two upscale Jewish neighbourhoods. Ouch!
Image 1 of 17: Chauvinistic cabinet: When it comes to women, Bibi is backwards. The PM’s inner circle is devoid of the fairer sex with not a single alpha female in his cabinet - even Tzipi Livni, his electoral competition, was shunted off to the negotiations table. It’s rumoured all ladies close to Bibi have been scared off by his fearsome wife, Sara.
Image 1 of 17: Oh no he didn’t go there! Bibi has committed some serious Nazi no-nos in during his time in office by drawing 1940s references and comparisons. He likened the ongoing diplomacy with Iran’s Hassan Rouhani as being on a par with Europe’s appeasement of Hitler in 1938. Say what, Bibi?
Image 1 of 17: Bombastic Bibi? 2012 UN General Assembly and THAT cartoon bomb - Israel’s no fan of Iran’s nuclear programme, but Bibi did his credibility no favour when he wielded a cartoon bomb of Iran’s nukes at the UN assembly. Rudimentary and ridiculous, he undermined Israel’s concerns in one swift blow.
Image 1 of 17: Baby Bibibi? Netanyahu acted like a petulant child when he thought that relations between the US and Iran might be thawing. Issuing almost daily statements on Iran and its “false diplomacy,” he nearly had a mental meltdown when Obama and Rouhani were on the brink of (gasp!) a historic handshake at the 2013 UN General Assembly.
Image 1 of 17: Boring Bibi? His never-ending diatribe on Iran’s nukes is dull. It has also has earned him criticism from predecessor Ehud Olmert who accused him of “creating an unnecessary international debate” and diminishing international support for Israel by constantly hounding the issue in the global arena. But Netanyahu’s not over it yet...
Image 1 of 17: No love for Barack: Obama and Bibi have had an uneasy relationship, with Obama reportedly telling France’s Sarkozy that he was “tired” of Netanyahu. Sour grapes for Bibi who allegedly put a bet on Obama losing the 2012 election and sponsored his competition in the hope that the current President might be booted out of office.
Image 1 of 17: Cold Turkey: Until IDF forces killed nine Turks aboard the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” in 2010, Israel had a rare regional ally in Turkey. Only apologising to the Turks in 2013, the deaths of the peaceful activists further isolated Israel from its Arab neighbours. Bibi didn’t need the blunder, and Israel suffered for his intransigence.
Image 1 of 17: All aboard the Bibi train: Israel may have an open immigration policy for Ethiopian Jews and Sudanese refugees, but deep seated racism isn’t alien to the Zionist state. Reports that Ethiopian Jews were forced to take contraceptives unknowingly on the border has made Bibi’s policies seem comparable to Nazi Germany’s Josef Mengele.
Image 1 of 17: Bibi catches the Arab bug: Israel had its own “Arab Spring” in 2011, with 250,000 citizens protesting the high price of living in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa after housing prices soared by more than 40%. The PM responded by promising some reforms - but publicly admitted he couldn’t meet all the peeved protesters’ demands.
Image 1 of 17: Grizzly for GDP? Under Bibi Israel’s growth rate has been all over the shop. Although it did grow to 5% in 2010, in 2012 it had declined to 3.3%. While this doesn’t mean Israel is on the brink of economic collapse, it certainly isn’t something for Bibi to brag about.
Image 1 of 17: Bad for business? According to World Crunch, no one else in Israel has “influenced the population’s wallet over the past decade” like Bibi. Having served as Economic Minister in 2004, you’d hope Netanyahu would know his way around the economy. Nope! Under Bibi, there’s a massive budget deficit - in 2012, the deficit mushroomed to 4.2%.
Image 1 of 17: Cut out the charm: In order to repair the state budget colossal deficit, Bibi will enforce massive increases of taxes that will render every taxcut of the last decade irrelevant. With $450 billion spending cuts on the cards and Israel already the most expensive country in the Middle East, these measures are bound to put a strain on his popularity.
Image 1 of 17: Shekels well spent? While Israel is penny pinching, Mr and Mrs Bibi spent over $950,000 on 3 new houses in 2012. For Maggie Thatcher’s funeral, they splashed out $145,000 for a double bed to be installed for their 5 hour flight to London. They also dropped nearly $20,000 on hair, makeup and wardrobe expenses in 2012. You wouldn’t know!
Image 1 of 17: Bastardly Bibi: Not often described as likeable, Bibi’s brashness even made Bill Clinton ask “Who is the f**king superpower here?” after a meeting. Having snubbed the Pope, Bibi’s obstinance and cocky personality seems to run in the family - his wife Sara is famed for throwing a shoe at a maid. Charming.
Israelis call him the "messiah" for the rich and have accused him of "betting against" US President Barack Obama in the 2012 elections by funnelling money into Mitt Romney’s campaign, via a billionaire buddy and business magnate Sheldon Adelson. He "amazed" the UN assembly with his bomb-inspired "artwork" (or cartoon-work) and left Bill Clinton cursing. He had toed the hardline in Israeli politics so fervently that Madeline Albright called him a Jewish Newt Gingrich (and it wasn't a compliment!).
After seventeen years on the Israeli political scene, right wing Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still trying to get things ‘right’. With Israel’s economy floundering on a massive budget deficit, ginormous taxes and a decline in growth despite Bibi being the main economic man for a previous era as well as the past decade, Netanyahu - affectionately known as Bibi - is losing against himself. The country saw waves of mass discontent against his staunch right steer of the economy, manifesting in Arab Spring-like protests in 2011 under the banner of Israeli people demand social justice.
In all cases one things is clear- he is no longer the economic champion that he was in the ‘90s. After serving as Minister of Finance from 2003-2005, Netanyahu exerted extraordinary control over the Israeli economy - it seems that he’s either stuck in the past or he’s lost his touch, as Israel’s finances are nothing to write home from Birthright about.
Isolating Israel even further from its regional allies through incidents such as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla of 2009, Bibi’s new gameplan has been jeopardising Israel’s relationship even with longstanding ally US. Publicly backing pro-Israel Republicans and getting in a flap over the relationship between Obama and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani has tested the BB friendship between Barack and Benjamin that has seen frosty moments.
Seventeen years after he became Prime Minister, Bibi’s role in Israeli politics seems like a drug: the longer Israel is addicted, the worse the consequences will be. After being ruled by Bibi for so long, will they ever be able to go cold turkey?
Though his unopposed PM leadership may appear a strong indicator that his next commissioned artwork piece de resistance will be a picture of Israelis drawing massive hearts around the name, “Bibi,” domestic protests in response to living prices not to mention a steady growing backlash from the international community on his diplomacy suggest a different story.
We recount seventeen of Bibi’s mishaps for each year of what some former PMs from Israel have described by disgruntled ex-Shin Bet head Diskin cynically as his second-coming “messianic leadership”. As we take a look at the culmination of his politics - both in public policy and in the personal realm - it becomes increasingly evident that Bibi may be more than Israel - and its future - can handle and why he is more of a liability for his state.
He might be a hardened veteran politican known to his peers as Netanyahu, but for all his blunders and botches, he will never stop being Bibi to his critics. So here's the blight of Benjamin and a case for him being bad for business all round...