I was intrigued by a very puzzling tweet (by @billmon1) which noted that Jonathan Chait had compared Benjamin Netanyahu to Yasser Arafat.
I thought that a very odd comparison as they don’t seem similar to me, except for the part about participating in negotiotiations but never actually accepting a final peace agreement.
But I now understand that’s not the point. It isn’t an analogy it’s an insult. Chait has burned the bridge between himself and hawkish zionists. In that circle, comparing someone to Arafat is an unfogiveable affront.
This is news, because Chait was one of the most prominent remaining liberal zionists who disagreed more with lefist critics of Israel than with hawks.
For what it’s worth, Chait explains his insult as follows
Netanyahu may be best understood as Israel’s Arafat — a master of nationalist politics, yet also disastrously lacking any strategic vision, and able to survive only at the deep and possibly fatal cost to his own people’s long-term aspirations.
I disagree. I agree that Arafat didn’t have a strategy but, it seems to me that Netanyahu has a strategy. The status quo is acceptable to Netanyahu and the then (and now) status quo was not acceptable to Arafat. Netanyahu has most of what he wants except for occasional rocket flying from Gaza. Arafat never accepted a state without Jerusalemn, but he ended up without a state at all.
Chait argues that, in the long run, Israeli’s who follow Netanyahu will pay costs similar to those paid by Palistinians who followed Arafat. But he doesn’t explain why or how this will happen any more effectively than Herzog did. He mentions a possible security council resolution which, I’m sure, terrifies Netanyahu.
Still the open outspoken expression of Chait’s hate of Netanyahu is news.