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Trump and Bibi Are Evil Twinsies

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The similarities between the personal and political styles of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are so powerful as to feel supernatural. Yet the likenesses are structural as much as they’re stylistic. Both men rule as aspiring autocrats in increasingly illiberal democracies, and in this respect, each is a cause as well as a symptom of the same degenerative disease that afflicts the political cultures of the United States and Israel.

The most obvious similarity is that both leaders give every evidence of having engaged in criminal behavior. For Trump, ignoring the law has always been his MO; for Bibi, it’s the result of his unquenchable lust for power.

To save themselves from prosecution, both peddle wild conspiracy theories about witch hunts driven by ideology, lawlessness, ambition, and—when it comes in handy—treason. Trump made that accusation against myriad members of the FBI, and he seems to be obsessed with its former director James Comey, who he recently tweeted “is a disgrace to the FBI & will go down as the worst Director in its long and once proud history.” For Bibi, as with Trump, there are so many plotters that it’s a full-time job just to keep up. But put his words into Trump’s mouth and it’s a normal White House sound bite. Bibi, as the poor fellow said about himself, is “the most maligned man in the history of Israeli media,” persecuted by “the media, the left and judicial functionaries.”

No less significant in the Bibi-Trump playbook is their demonization of minorities and immigrants. Not only do both men encourage violence among their most fanatical followers, but they also pretend that the political participation of Israel’s Arabs (in Netanyahu’s case) and immigrants and Muslims (in Trump’s) poses a threat to the Jewish (in Israel) and white (in the US) majorities. During Israel’s 2015 election, Netanyahu issued a panicky “emergency livestream” on Facebook, warning his followers that “Arabs are coming out to vote in droves.” Trump did the same with his outrageous claim that his loss of the 2016 popular vote was due to illegal voting by undocumented immigrants.

Ironically for Netanyahu, given that he is the prime minister of a Jewish state, but also for Trump, who is constantly accusing Democrats of being “totally anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish,” neither man is above exploiting the anti-Semitism that has grown to epidemic proportions on the right. For Netanyahu, this means cozying up to like-minded autocrats who, in places like Hungary and Poland, blame a globalist Jewish conspiracy for their woes, with George Soros as the most prominent target. Netanyahu has given a pass to the people making these attacks—thereby endangering diasporic Jews—and in Soros’s case even cheered them on. Meanwhile, Trump’s commercials and those of the Republicans have likewise focused on Jewish financiers of the Democratic Party, especially though not exclusively on Soros.

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