President Obama wasn't running against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- but it certainly felt like it at times. And while it may have been Isaac Herzog who went down in defeat, it is President Obama who was left looking like the loser. In a stunning eleventh-hour push, the four-time Prime Minister rocketed to a victory that seemed improbable just a week before.
Few could have predicted (and based on the polling, few did) the surge of Israel's long-time leader, who, when all was said and done, picked up a five-seat advantage in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) for his Likud party. With the weight of the world literally on his shoulders, Netanyahu is still the person the Israeli people trust to lead in a crisis with Iran and ISIS. Americans got a glimpse of that leadership earlier this month when the Prime Minister came to the United States and showed the resolve we have yet to see from our own President.
For all the obstacles, all the resistance, Netanyahu made a dramatic comeback that could alter the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. And no one could be more disappointed than President Obama. First, he lost the Congress -- now, the Knesset.
Late last night, Israeli time, Joel Rosenberg joined us on Washington Watch to put the results in perspective. Unfortunately, he said, even with a consensus win, "This is no easy task forward for Netanyahu," he warned. "What happens now is the President of the United States has doubled down to remove Netanyahu from office, refused to meet with him, wouldn't let any of his Cabinet members go to the speech in Congress, sent his Secretary of State out of the country to meet with the enemy, Iran -- not with the Prime Minister of Israel -- (he) sends political operatives here to Israel to work to unseat Netanyahu... The Obama and Clinton teams have been explicit in trying to get rid of Benjamin Netanyahu, which means that if he is the next Prime Minster, the relationship with the U.S. will go into a deeper freeze."
That's difficult to imagine, given the last six years' icy back-and-forth. Unlike President Obama, most Israelis don't want a Palestinian state aligned with terrorists. Nor do they want to relax the world's leash on a nuclear Iran. That's why, as Joel put it, "This is probably the most monumental and consequential election in a generation." When the world thought Netanyahu was finished, a majority of the 72% who turned out did so to vindicate the man American liberals were so desperate to unseat.
"It seems like the country agreed with his arguments," Joel pointed out, "but it does set up a showdown unfortunately between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu over the next two years that could get much uglier, much more dangerous. The President isn't listening to Congress, to his own allies...Israel, Jordan, or Egypt or Saudi Arabia, or even to his two Defense Secretaries... there's something wrong in the way President Obama is leading, and Israelis are nervous that they're going to get thrown under the bus."
For now, though, there's one person behind the wheel -- and it isn't Barack Obama. After last night, Benjamin Netanyahu will be driving the agenda in the Middle East -- and America has a choice: it can get on board, or get out of the way.
In the meantime, if you'd like to celebrate the Prime Minister's reelection in the country where it all happened, sign up for FRC's Holy Land trip this fall! Join me, Joel Rosenberg, Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Israeli leaders, and FRC experts for an unforgettable experience in Israel from October 27-November 6. We're partnering with Inspiration Cruises & Tours, a dedicated group of Christian professionals who have led thousands of people through the land of Israel. All the details of the trip, including airfare, accommodations, travel by luxury coaches and extraordinary guides, will be provided by Inspiration. For more information, click over to Inspiration Cruises.