My new piece about Netanyahu’s second term as a remake of the first is up at The American Prospect:
Since my wife began writing screenplays, I get a lesson in the mechanics of a film each time we watch one together. First lesson: Pay rapt attention to the opening moments. Character is being revealed; the entire plot is being laid out, though we may not yet understand how. Take the monologue at the start of Michael Clayton, where in a manic voiceover, a lawyer insists he’s not insane but rather, that his firm’s work has left him covered in excrement from which he cannot cleanse himself. Yes, we will learn, this madman is the sole compass of sanity in a world where the law is utterly befouled. It’s all there, the whole story.
I suggest watching the opening scenes of Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power — call it Bibi II — in the same way. It’s not just that the Netanyahu cabinet… is the largest in Israel’s history or that key positions are held by politicians manifestly unqualified to deal with the crises that Israel faces. What’s revealing is how Netanyahu constructed his coalition, in more of a panic than a process.
We’ve learned that the Netanyahu character remains the same as it was during his previous three-year episode in power, in the late 1990s: He is, in principle, a hardliner. That said, the principle he holds most strongly is that he should be prime minister. And the public advocate of unbending diplomatic stances is, in fact, a weak negotiator who hands out contradictory concessions to whomever he meets. Barack Obama, take note: Netanyahu speaks loudly and carries a small stick.
Read the rest here, and return to SoJo to comment.