benami176_John MooreGetty Images_netanyahu John Moore/Getty Images

Bibi’s Poisoned Legacy

After 12 years with Binyamin Netanyahu in power, Israel is more divided than it has ever been, and Israelis have largely lost hope that their country can be both Jewish and democratic. Can the new government, united only by its aversion to the country's longest-serving prime minister, push back against this legacy?

TEL AVIV – Soon, Binyamin Netanyahu will no longer be Israel’s prime minister. After 12 years in power, what kind of country will he leave behind?

Netanyahu was not always the irremediable hawk that his opponents (especially outside Israel) thought him to be. He often displayed a sharp pragmatism, reflecting a keen intelligence, extensive historical knowledge, impressive economic proficiency, and a deep awareness of regional and global trends.

But remaining in power was paramount for Netanyahu, so he tended to focus more on appeasing his base than serving the national interest. That often – and increasingly – meant pitting groups against one another by appealing to people’s tribal instincts. He ruled by incitement, implementing policies that matched his ultra-nationalistic, anti-Arab rhetoric.

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