Netanyahu’s Neocon Mind

An admirer of Benjamin Netanyahu says the Israeli Prime Minister shares the American neocons’ stark view of the world that disdains diplomacy and compromise with adversaries, notes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

Dan Illouz is an Israeli lawyer and a former legal adviser to both the Knesset’s leadership coalition and the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He is also a big fan of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On April 13, he wrote an opinion piece for the Jerusalem Post entitled, “A Fresh Perspective: Understanding Netanyahu’s Mind.”

Among the many synonyms of “fresh” offered by your average on-line dictionary are “unusual” and “undeveloped.” Though Illouz would certainly not agree that these terms fit his effort to explain the Prime Minister’s consciousness, it turns out that they actually do.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

For instance, there is his unusual claim that “Netanyahu is one of the deepest thinkers among world leaders.” At the same time Illouz emphasizes that Netanyahu comes from a “very ideological” background bequeathed to him by both his Revisionist Zionist father, Benzion Netanyahu, and the American neoconservative worldview. As we will see, both outlooks are undeveloped one-dimensional frames of reference.

It is true that our perceptions reflect a worldview structured by the aspects of family and society we choose to embrace, or rebel against. It could go either way. According to Illouz, Netanyahu has embraced the restricted worldview of a brand of Zionism that teaches that, if the Jews are to survive in the modern world, they must be militarily all powerful and remain unmoved by any and all calls for compromise with alleged enemies.

Also, according to Illouz, Netanyahu sees the world through the myopic lens of the American neoconservative movement, which preaches that both the United States and Israel are allies in a never-ending battle of good against evil. The unalterable consequences of compromise in such a struggle have been taught to us by the history of the 1938 Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler. All such compromises in this imagined struggle must end up in catastrophe, especially for the Jews.

Deep Thinking’

The conclusions Illouz draws from this description of Netanyahu’s mindset are, to say the least, baffling. Not in the sense that Netanyahu is cemented into a worldview that itself is modeled on a narrow slice of history. This indeed seems to accurately describe him. But rather in the claim that by seeing the world this way, the Israeli prime minister shows himself to be a “deep thinker.”

What does it mean to be a “deep thinker”? It should entail some capacity to break free of the structural framework or the worldview we start out with. For example, a degree of independent thought that allows us to discern when the past serves as a useful guide to the present and when it does not. This all adds up to an ability to be original – to understand present circumstances in novel ways that lead to breakthrough solutions to problems, be they political, social or scientific.

That is what it takes to think deeply. Does Benjamin Netanyahu qualify? No, he does not. He is no more a “deep thinker” than George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or John Bolton. Then why does Illouz say he does qualify? Because this Israeli lawyer, who is himself no “deep thinker,” mixes up profundity of thought with a skewed notion of “prudence” – which, in this case, he interprets as a “reluctance to embrace a utopian view of the world that progressives push forward.”

Pope Francis praying a separation wall in Palestine on May 25, 2014. (Photo credit: Pope Francis's Facebook page.).

Pope Francis praying a separation wall in Palestine on May 25, 2014. (Photo credit: Pope Francis’s Facebook page.).

Examples of such “utopian views” are peace agreements such as the Iran accord, and the notion of “unilateral withdrawals.” In other words, Benjamin Netanyahu is a “deep thinker” because, in the name of “prudence,” he shuts down all consideration of diplomatic compromise. For Illouz that also makes him one of the world’s leading “realists.”

In truth, Illouz’s assessment of his Prime Minister’s mind is itself a product of the same narrow, static worldview shared by neoconservatives and Likudniks alike. For instance, according to Illouz, Netanyahu’s refusal to withdraw from the Occupied Territories (O.T.) is stark realism motivated by a desire to “stop history from taking a wrong turn” – as it did in 1938.

The comparison of the Palestinian desire for an independent state in the O.T. and the Munich agreement of 1938 is so patently inane that I won’t waste words on it. But Israel’s absorption of the territories can be judged as the very opposite of realism – it is a utopian (actually dystopian) scheme that is in the process of doing untold damage to both Jews and Palestinians while isolating Israel from the rest of the world.

There is a contradiction between profundity of thought and the ideologically determined worldview. To be in a position to achieve the former, one must, at the very least, eschew the dogmatic aspects of the latter. Neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Dan Illouz are capable of doing this.

Analyzing Illouz’s presentation is not hard. His mistaken take on “deep thinking,” the lessons of history, the notions of realism and utopianism are quite obvious. This being the case one might ask why the editors at the Jerusalem Post thought it proper to print such balderdash? Perhaps because they too see the world in the same one-dimensional fashion.

If we are to believe the reports coming out of Israel, the Jewish majority there is undergoing an unchecked withdrawal into itself. The “us against the world” attitude that has always characterized some of world Jewry has now taken command in Israel. And, except for a small portion of the population that has managed to break free of this warped worldview (and as a consequence is being labeled as traitors), the mass of Israeli Jews are following their Pied Piper leaders into dangerous isolation.

This state of detachment has led to a series of policy decisions that are anything but realistic. The continuing expansion of illegal settlements and destruction of Palestinian houses, the resulting ethnic cleansing, the utter barbarism of Israeli policy toward Gaza, and the labeling as terrorist behavior all reactions against these policies, mark an official, and internally popular, worldview that is increasing detached from reality.

Dan Illouz’s piece in the Jerusalem Post is a clumsy effort to rationalize this way of thinking and seeing.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

17 comments for “Netanyahu’s Neocon Mind

  1. RocetStar
    April 26, 2016 at 21:59

    Why is this miscreant oxygen thief still breathing? It doesn’t speak well for the human race. It’s time for citizens of the world to unite into guerilla armies with accompanying search-and-destroy-teams that would eradicate puke like this!

  2. Curious
    April 23, 2016 at 12:10

    Bibi as a “deep thinker” is an offense to any thoughtful thinker, despite any depth one would portent as an eventual ‘happening’ by Israel. Having an undeclared nuclear arsenal to play chicken with the world, while not signed the NPT (since they don’t have any, of course) should be confirmed.

    If the “deep thought’ is to protect a state from Iran, it must be an over-reliance on the wind and sand conditions in the Middle East, as much of the damage and destruction would hurt Israel itself. and the land it hopes to gain while cheating on poker, would make much of it unusable for over 20,000 years. But maybe patience is a sign of a deep thinker too.

    If this is all a maneuvering to securing the Golan Heights (as a loving trade-off for its aggression), the world should step in and say a resounding “no” to Israel. Meanwhile the international community should collectively examine Israels’ chemical weapons, and nuclear capacities. It’s time the community step in and verify. What is good enough for Iran, is certainly good enough for Israel. If their ‘anti-moral army and soldiers are any reflection of the violence Israel can product in the name of “defense” a just and independent organization is needed right now, and not yesterday. And Israel will not, and should never get the Golan Heights. Have them give up the WMD. Please explain this to the deep thinker.

    If Israel stops ‘moving the lawn’ and creating euphemisms like ‘cast lead’, they may even have less enemies in the world as well.

    • J'hon Doe II
      April 23, 2016 at 12:18

      And Israel will not, and should never get the Golan Heights. Please explain this to the deep thinker.– Curious

      Israel has already seized control of the Golan Heights along w/ Soros, oil companies, and banks.

      ( DeBeers stole a fortune in diamonds and gold in South Africa using the forced labor of African Natives )

      • J'hon Doe II
        April 23, 2016 at 12:27
      • RocetStar
        April 26, 2016 at 22:03

        They can get away with these actions because citizens of the world allow it instead of organizing into guerilla armies and putting a stop to it!

  3. J'hon Doe II
    April 23, 2016 at 11:32

    The Past Haunts Oxford Debate Over Rhodes Statue
    By ALAN COWELLJAN. 21, 2016

    excerpt —

    A statue of the colonialist Cecil John Rhodes on the facade of Oriel College in Oxford, England. Credit Eddie Keogh/Reuters

    LONDON — High above a main thoroughfare in the city of Oxford, in an alcove framed by twirly columns, a statue of Cecil John Rhodes, the archimperialist who shaped Britain’s empire and the destiny of its far-flung subjects in Africa, peers down inscrutably on the people below. If you weren’t looking for it, you might miss it.

    In recent weeks, though, the statue has provoked an acrimonious debate about whether it should be removed, as was another monument to him last year, in South Africa, where he built his fortune and power before his death in 1902.

    But, as the debate has unfolded, it has sometimes been tempting to ask what it is all about — the unhealed wounds of Africa’s colonial heritage; or fears among Westerners that their version of history may be sacrificed on an altar of racially tinged revisionism, an echo of an equally fiery debate on some American campuses.

    Certainly, it seems beyond dispute that colonialism, along with the slave trade and the encroachment of foreign faiths in lands that had not requested them, burned an enduring scar on Africa’s self-regard and self-esteem.

    But, said Christopher Patten, the chancellor of Oxford University, who does not want the statue pulled down, “our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been according to our contemporary views and prejudices.”

  4. J'hon Doe II
    April 23, 2016 at 11:18

    Zionism is living/breathing xenophobia
    closed in garments of imperial rule
    inspired by Arch-Neocon, Cecil Rhodes.

  5. Fergus Hashimoto
    April 22, 2016 at 22:55

    A modest hypothesis:
    Arab xenophobia – CAUSED – Expulsion of Conservative Sephardi Jews from Arab lands – SO THEN – Immigration of Conservative Sephardi Jews to Israel – SO THEN – Conservative Sephardi Jews in Israel elect Netanyahu – SO THEN – Netanyahu fosters neo-conservatism
    For details see

  6. J'hon Doe II
    April 22, 2016 at 17:06

    Misinformation Prevails!!!

    In the 50 years of separation – between Malcolm X and Coates – the false narrative has grown to such power as to allow Israel carte-blanche imperial subjugation and power of dominion over a native people.

    Coates’ misappropriation of history is informed by the controlling media and a failure to go back far enough.
    The Politics of News Media “INVENTING REALITY”-Michael Parenti
    or Chomsky’s “MEDIA CONTROL”-The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda.

    Israel’s controlling power over the People of Palestine is nothing less than colonialist apartheid.

  7. Peter Loeb
    April 22, 2016 at 06:37


    Professor Davidson’s analysis is perceptive. It fails to explore
    the roots of Zionism. That is, the “frame of mind” has never
    been Benjamin Netanyahu’s alone.

    I have recently written a reply to an article by Daniel Lazare
    in today’s Consortium in which I mistakenly refer to the
    new propaganda attack as “new”. It isn’t new at all.

    Norman G. Finkelstein’s analysis in IMAGE AND REALITY OF
    special note is the discussion of “Zionist Orientations:The Theory and
    Practice of Jewish Nationalism”. Chapter 1 and footnotes. This is
    related to colonialism in particular in Michael Prior’s THE BIBLE AND

    As I pointed out in my reply to D. Lazare, this is a preparation
    for the PR campaign we will witness in the next Administration.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  8. Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
    April 21, 2016 at 19:49

    No structure built on wrong foundation can stand……….it will always collapse under its own weight……………

    • J'hon Doe II
      April 23, 2016 at 11:48

      Netanyahu a ‘danger’ to Israel, say 200 security veterans

      A group of Israeli generals have launched an unprecedented attack on the prime minister as he prepares to address the US Congress
      Jonathan Cook
      Sunday 1 March 2015


      In an unprecedented move, 200 veterans of the Israeli security services accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday of being a “danger” to Israel.

      The new group, called Commanders for Israel’s Security, warned that Netanyahu was doing irreparable harm to the country’s relationship with Washington, just two days before he is due to address the US Congress.

      The Israeli prime minister is expected to use the speech to try to undermine negotiations currently taking place between major world powers and Iran. He has claimed that any agreement reached at the talks’ conclusion, later this month, will leave Iran a “nuclear threshold state” hellbent on destroying Israel.

      Half a dozen former generals spoke out at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday, urging Netanyahu to cancel the speech before ties with the US deteriorate even further.

      The White House is reported to be furious that Netanyahu arranged his appearance before Congress behind President Barack Obama’s back.

  9. J'hon Doe II
    April 21, 2016 at 13:32

    Misinformation Prevails!!!

    Ta-Nehisi Coates sings of Zionism

    Rania Khalek
    The Electronic Intifada
    23 February 2016

    Ta-Nehisi Coates tarnishes his compelling case for reparations owed to Black Americans by holding up German compensation to Israel as a successful model.

    Invisible Palestinians

    It would be unfair to demand that Coates delve into the history of Palestine in an article about reparations for Black Americans had he not devoted an entire section and more than a thousand words to lauding Germany’s bankrolling of a racist, settler-colonial state as a model.

    By doing so, he ignores the Nakba, erases Palestinian suffering and gives Germany a free pass for making Palestinians into secondary victims of its European genocide.

    Acknowledging these shortcomings would require at the very least recognizing the existence of Palestinians, something Coates has struggled with in the past.

    But Coates apparently has no problem recognizing – and maybe even identifying with – the oppressors of the Palestinians.

    In an article headlined “The Negro sings of Zionism,” he once likened Black liberation leaders Malcolm X and Huey Newton to Zionists, while making no reference to Palestinians or to the fact that Newton’s avowedly internationalist Black Panther Party rejected Zionism, equating it with “chauvinism and ethnocentrism.”

    On another occasion, Coates wrote about Jewish immigration to Palestine, likening the Black struggle against American racism to the Zionist colonization of Palestine.

    “Should German Jews continue the fight against anti-Semitism in Europe or should they separate and give up trying to convince people who have long hated them?” Coates asks, observing that “the dilemma is familiar to some of us.”

    Nowhere do the Palestinians figure in Coates’ moral or political calculations.

    To his credit, Coates later tweeted an apology for writing “as though the Palestinian people do not exist.”

  10. J'hon Doe II
    April 21, 2016 at 13:19

    Ta-Nehisi Coates sings of Zionism


    Aiding atrocities

    In the early years of the state, before 1967, the Israeli army’s priority was to keep Palestinian refugees from returning to their land while subduing the Palestinians who remained with military rule.

    In 1957, Germany forged a secret agreement for military and scientific cooperation with Israel rooted in the belief that Germany was obligated by its Nazi past to guarantee Israel’s security as a Jewish state.

    Israel regularly exploited this sentiment.

    In early 1964, after Germany began funneling tanks, submarines, artillery, mobile cannons and missile boats to Israel, details of the secret program were leaked to the media, generating public opposition across Germany. The government was pressured into halting the arms flow and it pledged not to send any more weapons into conflict zones.

    Israel’s deputy defense minister Shimon Peres issued a cable to the Israeli diplomatic delegation in West Germany, shamelessly capitalizing on Holocaust guilt.

    Israel “doesn’t see itself as being located in a conflict region or as involved in an armed struggle,” wrote Peres, but “as part of the Jewish people, which is under constant threat of annihilation from the dictatorial government in Egypt.”

    “If the Germans want to pass a law [against selling arms to conflict zones], they must commit themselves to correcting historical injustices toward the Jewish people and not make life easier for their simplistic policy at our expense,” he added.

    Germany responded by resurrecting the arms program and establishing an open military relationship that was instrumental to Israel’s future conquests.

    This dynamic remains so profitable to Israel that an Israeli diplomat told journalists last year that “it was an Israeli interest to maintain German guilt feelings” about the Holocaust. Without German guilt, “we’d be just another country as far as they’re concerned,” the diplomat reportedly said.

    While the US has replaced Germany as the main guarantor of Israel’s military dominance, German money continues to fuel Israel’s military might.

    As part of its perceived moral obligation to Israel, Germany has delivered five Dolphin-class submarines that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

  11. J'hon Doe II
    April 21, 2016 at 12:58

    Zionist Logic —
    Malcolm X on Zionism

    Taken from The Egyptian Gazette — Sept. 17, 1964

    The Zionist armies that now occupy Palestine claim their ancient Jewish prophets predicted that in the “last days of this world” their own God would raise them up a “messiah” who would lead them to their promised land, and they would set up their own “divine” government in this newly-gained land, this “divine” government would enable them to “rule all other nations with a rod of iron.”

    If the Israeli Zionists believe their present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of predictions made by their Jewish prophets, then they also religiously believe that Israel must fulfill its “divine” mission to rule all other nations with a rod of irons, which only means a different form of iron-like rule, more firmly entrenched even, than that of the former European Colonial Powers.

    These Israeli Zionists religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism, so well disguised that it will enable them to deceive the African masses into submitting willingly to their “divine” authority and guidance, without the African masses being aware that they are still colonized.


    The Israeli Zionists are convinced they have successfully camouflaged their new kind of colonialism. Their colonialism appears to be more “benevolent,” more “philanthropic,” a system with which they rule simply by getting their potential victims to accept their friendly offers of economic “aid,” and other tempting gifts, that they dangle in front of the newly-independent African nations, whose economies are experiencing great difficulties. During the 19th century, when the masses here in Africa were largely illiterate it was easy for European imperialists to rule them with “force and fear,” but in this present era of enlightenment the African masses are awakening, and it is impossible to hold them in check now with the antiquated methods of the 19th century.

    The imperialists, therefore, have been compelled to devise new methods. Since they can no longer force or frighten the masses into submission, they must devise modern methods that will enable them to manouevre the African masses into willing submission.

    The modern 20th century weapon of neo-imperialism is “dollarism.” The Zionists have mastered the science of dollarism: the ability to come posing as a friend and benefactor, bearing gifts and all other forms of economic aid and offers of technical assistance. Thus, the power and influence of Zionist Israel in many of the newly “independent” African nations has fast-become even more unshakeable than that of the 18th century European colonialists… and this new kind of Zionist colonialism differs only in form and method, but never in motive or objective.

    At the close of the 19th century when European imperialists wisely foresaw that the awakening masses of Africa would not submit to their old method of ruling through force and fears, these ever-scheming imperialists had to create a “new weapon,” and to find a “new base” for that weapon.


    The number one weapon of 20th century imperialism is zionist dollarism, and one of the main bases for this weapon is Zionist Israel. The ever-scheming European imperialists wisely placed Israel where she could geographically divide the Arab world, infiltrate and sow the seed of dissension among African leaders and also divide the Africans against the Asians.

    Zionist Israel’s occupation of Arab Palestine has forced the Arab world to waste billions of precious dollars on armaments, making it impossible for these newly independent Arab nations to concentrate on strengthening the economies of their countries and elevate the living standard of their people.

    And the continued low standard of living in the Arab world has been skillfully used by the Zionist propagandists to make it appear to the Africans that the Arab leaders are not intellectually or technically qualified to lift the living standard of their people … thus, indirectly “enducing” Africans to turn away from the Arabs and towards the Israelis for teachers and technical assistance.

    “They cripple the bird’s wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they.”

    The imperialists always make themselves look good, but it is only because they are competing against economically crippled newly independent countries whose economies are actually crippled by the Zionist-capitalist conspiracy. They can’t stand against fair competition, thus they dread Gamal Abdul Nasser’s call for African-Arab Unity under Socialism.


    If the “religious” claim of the Zionists is true that they were to be led to the promised land by their messiah, and Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine is the fulfillment of that prophesy: where is their messiah whom their prophets said would get the credit for leading them there? It was Ralph Bunche who “negotiated” the Zionists into possession of Occupied Palestine! Is Ralph Bunche the messiah of Zionism? If Ralph Bunche is not their messiah, and their messsiah has not yet come, then what are they doing in Palestine ahead of their messiah?

    Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the “religious” claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation … where Spain used to be, as the European zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?…

    In short the Zionist argument to justify Israel’s present occupation of Arab Palestine has no intelligent or legal basis in history … not even in their own religion. Where is their Messiah?

    • TellTheTruth-2
      April 24, 2016 at 12:59

      WOW … thank you!

  12. dahoit
    April 21, 2016 at 12:53

    Sorry,but this deserves a Duh?

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