A nuclear Iran threatens. The Palestinian conflict smolders. Meanwhile, Israelâs prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has largely vanquished his domestic foesâthe Israeli media, the political oppositionâin a battle backed by two U.S. billionaires and reportedly fueled by his wife, Sara. Interviewing the 62-year-old leader, David Margolick explores why âBibiâ is in control of his country, but not of its destiny.
At one point or another for an entire week last November, most of the Israeli establishment showed up at the Bauhaus home in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem: members of the Cabinet and Knesset, security officials, rabbis, businessmen, journalists, supplicants of all stripes, âeveryone who didnât want to get in any trouble,â as one participant put it. They stood solemnly around the small stone courtyard with a tent on top, officially mourning, but also studying who else was there, who was whispering to whom. Ehud Barak, the defense minister and, by many accounts, the most vigorous proponent of an Israeli strike against Iran, was there. So was Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, who then held the key to the current governmentâs survival. Even an Arab member of the Knesset, Ahmad Tibi, came by later on. The guest registry also included Sheldon Adelson, the ubiquitous gambling magnate, and Ronald Lauder, an heir to the EstÃ©e Lauder cosmetics fortuneâa pair of American billionaires who, improbably, have also become major Israeli media moguls.
Grebulon reports from gitmonation falafel