clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Here's a video of Chuck Norris endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu in the Israeli election

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Chuck Norris has endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for reelection.

Yes, that Chuck Norris.

"You have an incredible country, and we want to keep it that way," the famously conservative actor says in the above video, addressed to "my friends in Israel" and uploaded on Monday. "That's why it's so important to keep a leader that has the courage and vision to stand up agains the evil forces that are threatening not only Israel, but the United States."

One might wonder why a kitschy American action star feels like his endorsement matters in Israel. Norris has it covered: "I've done three movies in Israel — Delta Force being my favorite."

The chances of this affecting the Israeli election are roughly the same as the chances of me riding a unicorn into Bigfoot's den and stealing a leprechaun's pot of gold. But the video's still interesting: it's an artifact of the way Netanyahu has become an icon of the American right, especially at its fringes.

As Netanyahu and Obama have clashed publicly since both took office in 2009, the right-wing prime minister has become an avatar for all of the good qualities Bibi's fans on the right think our president lacks. Netanyahu's rhetorically aggressive stance towards foreign threats in particular gets contrasted with Obama's alleged lily-liveredness.

"Benjamin Netanyahu today was everything Barack Obama is not," Rush Limbaugh said after Netanyahu's March 3 speech to Congress. "Netanyahu was like fearless in speaking up for his own country ... contrast that to Obama, who, when he tells us about our enemies, we have to understand them."

"I wish we could have Netanyahu as our president," Ann Coulter said to Sean Hannity in August of last year. "Me too," the host responded.

This perception makes a lot of sense. Israel is astonishingly popular on the political right, especially the evangelical conservative base. Netanyahu is a conservative leader whose rhetoric on issues like Iran and terrorism sounds a lot like the GOP's. And the prime minister has long maintained good relations with the Republican party — his ambassador to America, Ron Dermer, is a former GOP operative.

So when someone with this background famously clashes with Obama, he's going to come out looking good to the conservative right. This Chuck Norris video is just a particularly funny example of conservative Netanyahu fandom.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.