A Once and Future Prime Minister [Updated]

Last night, Center of the American Experiment held our Annual Dinner, with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as our featured speaker. It was a great event in several respects, but for me listening to, and spending time with, Bennett was the highlight.

Bennett’s parents were American and he lived for some years in the U.S., so he understands our country well. He places himself on Israel’s right wing, and says that if he were an American he would be classified as a moderate Republican. He is, in our terms, a conservative on economic issues and he criticizes Benjamin Netanyahu’s government from the right on the Hamas war. In particular, he criticizes the long delay that preceded the IDF’s attack on Rafah.

I found Bennett highly compelling as a personality: a distinguished soldier, consistently successful in business, and now a political leader at what in America would be considered a young age. And by my assessment a very nice guy.

These are a couple of clips from his speech. Here Bennett describes what Israel needs from America:

Here he describes the radical Islamists’ ideology of death:

After Bennett’s speech, I did a Q and A colloquy with him that produced some interesting answers. Bennett thinks Iran’s regime can be toppled, with American help, using essentially the same approach the Reagan administration followed to undermine the U.S.S.R. When he became Prime Minister, he commissioned a study to analyze what the Reagan administration did that can now be used as a blueprint:

I asked whether it would be possible to kick the United Nations out of Gaza, post-war:

It is predictable that soon after the current war is over, there will be an election in Israel and that Netanyahu will retire. I expect Naftali Bennett to be a strong contender to become Prime Minister at the head of a coalition that includes more liberal elements along with his conservative base. I hope, in any event, that that is what will happen.

Knowing that there is a strong pro-Hamas contingent in the Twin Cities, we did not publicize the location of our event until we emailed ticket-holders a few days in advance. But that email led to a leak, and anti-Semites went on social media to organize a demonstration against Israel and against our event. Something like 200 people showed up and tried to make nuisances of themselves. A member of our staff ventured out to interview some of the demonstrators. They turned out to be as ill-informed as you would expect:

Five of the protesters were arrested, I think primarily for spray painting a federal building across the street from our venue. Not surprisingly, news stories about the event focused more on the protesters than they deserved. They utterly failed to disrupt our event. This Fox report was the best:

The Minneapolis Police Department was out in force, and did a magnificent job of keeping order.

UPDATE: While I am at it, you might enjoy this video which we played for our audience last night:

ONE MORE: This was my walk-up video. As I said at the event, it is my favorite minute and a half of the year. If you watch it, turn your volume up loud:

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