Benjamin Netanyahu has been a fixture of Israeli politics for three decades. Today, he finds himself facing his greatest political challenge ever in the wake of the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas.
The attacks took the lives of over 1,000 Israeli civilians as well as hundreds of active-duty security personnel. And the crisis is by no means over, with more than 200 Israeli nationals being held prisoner by Hamas. More than 7,000 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed by Israel.
Prior to the attacks, Netanyahu was already an embattled figure, facing a corruption trial and protests over overhauls to the judiciary that have divided the country.
Now Netanyahu faces the prospects of a bloody ground war, potentially on multiple fronts.
To get a sense of what’s happening on the ground in Israel and how that might shape Netanyahu’s decision-making as well as his legacy, I spoke with Mairav Zonszein, a senior Israel-Palestine analyst at the International Crisis Group in the latest episode of our Pivot podcast.
We discussed the enduring effects of Netanyahu’s sixteen years of rule of Israel and how they may have impacted Israel’s ability to prevent the October 7 attacks and respond to them.
“Everything has become politicized” under Netanyahu, Zonszein says.
Zonszein says for the Israeli public, “the hostage situation” is its “number one priority.” Trust in the Israeli government is low. And Netanyahu himself may be plagued by indecision.
And while trust in Netanyahu is low, “nobody really knows how to remove him from power.” Netanyahu’s political fate may be uncertain, but Zonszein is sure that October 7 will forever remain a stain on his legacy. Netanyahu’s long-cultivated images as “Mr. Security” and “Mr. Diplomacy” have been irreparably damaged both domestically and globally.
In this episode of The Pivot podcast, International Crisis Group Mairav Zonszein joins host Arif Rafiq to discuss the mood on the ground in Israel after the October 7 attacks by Hamas, how it may shape Netanyahu’s decision-making, and what the ongoing crisis means for the future of his government, his legacy, the fate of the Israeli state, and the question of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
- Mairav Zonszein (@MairavZ), Senior Israel-Palestine Analyst, International Crisis Group
Zonszein is an Israeli-American journalist and commentator who has covered Israeli politics and U.S. foreign policy for over a decade. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Nation, The American Prospect, VICE, The Intercept, and more. She is a founding editor of +972 Magazine and a contributor to Jewish Currents. She has an MA in Nationalism Studies from the Central European University in Budapest.
Arif Rafiq is the editor of Globely News. Rafiq has contributed commentary and analysis on global issues for publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, the New York Times, and POLITICO Magazine.
He has appeared on numerous broadcast outlets, including Al Jazeera English, the BBC World Service, CNN International, and National Public Radio.