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Opinion
Daniel Gordis

Netanyahu Campaign Hit by Perfect Storm

Israel's election next week looks like it will be much closer than the prime minister expected.
His bodyguards will protect him.

His bodyguards will protect him.

Photographer: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images

For all the vitriol in the U.S. surrounding Benjamin Netanyahu's speech last week to Congress, it was nothing compared with what the Israeli prime minister faced upon his homecoming. Israeli politics are generally more vicious than their American parallel, and Netanyahu returned to face what is almost a perfect storm raging around his re-election campaign.

It began with comments by Meir Dagan, a former director of Mossad, who said that the prime minister’s conduct of the conflict with the Palestinians would lead Israel to being either a binational or an apartheid state. Dagan has long been critical of Netanyahu, but former Mossad chiefs have virtual demigod status in Israel, so his accusation (which he repeated in front of an estimated 80,000 people at an anti-Netanyahu rally Saturday in Tel Aviv, where he also said that Netanyahu has brought Israel to its worst crisis since its creation) clearly stung.