The New York Times reports: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the son of a historian, often complains to his inner circle that “people have a historical memory that goes back to breakfast.”
But when Mr. Netanyahu has recently tried to focus the world on the Iranian nuclear program, using ancient texts, Holocaust history and a 2011 book by Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, he has sometimes come off sounding shrill. As six major world powers convene next week to negotiate on the nuclear issue with Iran’s new leadership, the Israeli leader risks seeming frozen in the past amid a shifting geopolitical landscape.
Increasingly alone abroad and at home, where he has lost several trusted aides and cabinet colleagues, Mr. Netanyahu has stubbornly argued that if people would just study the facts, they would surely side with him.
“You use history to understand the present and chart the future — history is a map,” Mr. Netanyahu explained in an interview on Thursday night. “You know what a map is? A map is a crystallization of the main things you need to know to get from one place to another.”
With a series of major speeches — three more are scheduled next week — and an energetic media blitz, Mr. Netanyahu, 63, has embarked on the public-diplomacy campaign of his career, trying to prevent what he worries will be “a bad deal” with Iran. Insisting on a complete halt to uranium enrichment and no easing of the economic sanctions he helped galvanize the world to impose on Iran, Mr. Netanyahu appears out of step with a growing Western consensus toward reaching a diplomatic deal that would require compromise.
But such isolation is hardly new to a man with few personal friends and little faith in allies, who shuns guests for Sabbath meals, who never misses a chance to declare Israel’s intention to defend itself, by itself. [Continue reading…]