Pioneer Briefing US Edition

Netanyahu vs. Zelensky


Good Morning,

Netanyahu vs. Zelensky: The leaders of Ukraine and Israel share a cruel fate. Their countries were invaded.

Volodymyr Zelensky and Benjamin Netanyahu on September 20, 2023 © imago

Both Ukraine and Israel are grappling with violence and crimes against humanity. Both countries face aggressors who threaten the existence of these nations. It's a struggle over borders in Europe and the Middle East – aimed at weakening the West.

But the similarities between Zelensky and Netanyahu end there, as do those between Ukraine and Israel.

Volodymyr Zelensky © dpa

Freedom Hero Zelensky: From day one, the once 43 million people on the Russian Federation's border have had the military, political, financial and emotional support of Americans and Europeans. The once unknown Zelensky, has become an international symbol. He represents freedom – more specifically Ukraine’s desire for freedom.

Benjamin Netanyahu © imago

Anti-Hero Netanyahu: The Israeli Prime Minister won the solidarity of the Americans and Europeans immediately after the October 7th invasion. But he quickly lost international support with his military operation in Gaza, which resulted in more than 30,000 deaths - primarily women, children and other civilians, according to the local health ministry.

Injured children after Israeli air strikes © imago

The difference between these two men and their values couldn’t be greater.

Volodymyr Zelensky and Olaf Scholz in Berlin (February 16, 2024)  © dpa

Zelensky sought allies from day one. He engaged in extensive diplomatic efforts across Warsaw, Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Brussels and Washington, and has made it clear he is fighting in the name of freedom – for Ukraine and the Western world.

Benjamin Netanyahu  © imago

Netanyahu presents himself to the world as an aggressive loner who can live without Western support. He's okay with the US and the UN not being on his side. Those who are not with him are against him.

Ukrainian soldiers shell Russian positions on the frontline  © dpa

Territory: The Ukrainian president remains on his territory. He does not try to take the fight to the enemy, and he does not lay claim to Russian territory. He wants to repel Putin but not bring him to his knees. Zelensky respects the security needs of NATO countries.

The Israeli Prime Minister isn't satisfied with merely expelling terrorists from Israel; he's marching far behind enemy lines. His goal differs from Zelensky's; he aims not only to safeguard Israel's borders but also to assert control over the Gaza Strip. Approximately a month after the Hamas attack, his stance was clear:

Israeli Defense Forces will retain control of the Strip; we will not hand it over to international forces.

Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN General Assembly on September 22, 2023 © imago

There will be no Palestinian state, as long as Netanyahu is in charge. At the United Nations, he provoked discontent with a map that showed no room for Palestinian statehood.

Laith Arafeh, head of the Palestinian mission in Germany, wrote on X:

There is no greater insult than to show a map that denies Palestine and its people.

Joe Biden © imago

Netanyahu’s goals and ruthless methods have alienated him from the American president. Joe Biden said in a television interview with MSNBC in early March:

In my view, he hurts Israel more than he helps it.

Donald Trump © imago

And Trump? The Israeli prime minister has also lost his support. Just recently, Trump declared:

Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion, they hate everything about Israel and they should be ashamed of themselves.

However, in an interview with the Jewish newspaper Israel Hayom, the former U.S. president, said:

I will say, Israel has to be very careful because you’re losing a lot of the world, you’re losing a lot of support.

His advice to his friends in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv:

You have to finish up, you have to get the job done. And you have to get onto peace, to get onto a normal life for Israel, and for everybody else.

Anti-Semitism? When asked how he would deal with rising anti-Semitism in the world, Trump responded:

I wanted to call [Israel] and say don't do it. These photos and shots. I mean, moving shots of bombs being dropped into buildings in Gaza. And I said, 'Oh, that's a terrible portrait. It's a very bad picture for the world.'.

The remarkable anti-Netanyahu consensus: Ironically, when it comes to Israeli politics, Democrats and Republicans mostly agree. This newfound clarity has emerged due to pressure from both the public and within their respective parties.

Chuck Schumer © imago

A speech by Chuck Schumer, a Jewish Democrat and longtime Democratic Senate majority leader, catapulted criticism of Israel from the sidelines to the main stage in Washington. On March 14th he delivered his speech on the Senate floor, stating:

I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu has lost his way by putting his political survival ahead of Israel's interests.

Students at a pro-Palestinian protest in Chicago © imago

Woodstock 2.0: Biden is facing challenges with a portion of young Democrats who are distancing themselves from him, viewing his approach as too hesitant. The sentiments of these students mirror the concerns of civilians in Gaza.

Peter Beinart © Jewish Currents

Parts of the US Jewish community are distancing themselves from Israel's current leadership. In his New York Times essay, "The Great Rupture in American Jewish Life," Peter Beinart notes this shift. Previously, Zionism and liberalism were intertwined; now, a choice emerges:

The split between American liberalism and Zionism marks a significant change in US Jewish politics, shaping its future for decades.

The man has captured the mood, as evidenced by every available opinion poll in the United States:

Support for Palestine has become a central feature of progressive politics on many college campuses.

As being pro-Israel today is often associated with holding right-wing views, we see a significant divide emerge among American Jews.

Conclusion: Zelensky and Netanyahu represent two very different leadership styles. One embodies the principle of controlled self-defense, while the other seeks to obliterate the aggressor. One seeks to restore sovereignty and preserve the balance of power. The other seeks victory.

And the perfect balance of these approaches would be described by Henry Kissinger as "realpolitik" and by Prof. James Brown of Chapman University as "peace leadership.” No contemporary politician has yet to strike this balance; no one has found that sweet spot.

  • In the Pioneer Podcast, US expert Dr. Josef Braml talks about inflation, the trade war with China and the US elections.

  • The German Economy is hurting.

  • Easter special: Our colleague Alev Doğan reads love letters from famous men and women.

Daniel Kahneman © imago

Daniel Kahneman died yesterday at the age of 90. Born in Tel Aviv in 1934, the Israeli-American psychologist and behavioral economist was considered a pop star in the field of economics.

His career: Kahneman studied psychology and mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before earning a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California in 1961. He then taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for 17 years.

In the late 1970s, Kahneman returned to the United States to teach, first as a professor at the University of British Columbia and then, from 1986 to 1994, at the world-renowned University of California in Berkeley.

Kahneman's Prospect Theory combined critical insights from behavioral psychology with those of economics. While the rationality of decision-making - homo economicus - is still taught to some extent in universities, Kahneman's research introduced gut feeling into economics. He theorized that fear of loss leads people to make irrational decisions ("Gains and losses are short-term (...) They are immediate, emotional reactions. That makes a huge difference in the quality of decisions").

People fear losses more than they are motivated by the prospect of gains.

King Carl Gustaf of Sweden presents Daniel Kahneman with the Nobel Prize in Economics (2002) © imago

In 2002, this intellectual achievement was inevitably rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Economics.

We bid farewell to a true pioneer!

Dr. Josef Braml © DGAP

"Economy as a weapon? Yes," says Dr. Josef Braml, U.S. expert and European director of the Trilateral Commission think tank, in the Pioneer Podcast. Globalization and the division of labor are out; today, it's about resilience and defense:

The economy is no longer the goal, but the means to a geostrategic end, to contain the rival. From the American point of view, that's China. And the Chips Act was a declaration of war.

Europe, take note: The Chips Act is a declaration of war that the Europeans have overlooked, Braml points out. Yet Europe is deeply affected by the power struggle between the two most significant economic powers – the U.S. and China. This rivalry - and the dilemma in which Europeans find themselves - will only intensify in the future. Regardless of whether the winner of the U.S. election in September is Biden or Trump.

In an interview with Chelsea Spiecker, Braml advises:

Europeans need to understand that they have to make themselves more resilient and not invest too much in the Pax Americana anymore.

Click here to listen to today’s Pioneer Podcast.

To hear more of their discussion on inflation, the trade war with China and the elections, listen to the entire conversation with Dr. Josef Braml in German on this morning's Pioneer Podcast.

ECB Director Piero Cipollone © X/ecb

The question on everyone's mind is: When will the long-awaited interest rate cuts finally come?

Anticipation is already driving capital markets to new heights—the DAX, Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 have all hit record highs — rising more than ten percent since the beginning of the year.

Is the situation expected to remain unchanged in April? Piero Cipollone, an executive board member of the European Central Bank (ECB), suggested an upcoming rate reduction during his remarks at an event organized by the House of the Euro and the Center for European Reform yesterday. He said:

An excessive focus on short-term wage developments may not fully take into account the rebound in wages that can - and must - take place for the currently fragile euro to gain stronger footing.

Piero Cipollone speaks in Brussels about the monetary policy course of the euro area (27.03.2024) © X/CER_EU


If incoming data confirm the scenario outlined in the March projections, we should be prepared to revise our restrictive monetary policy stance quickly.

In other words, if wage data allows, rate cuts could be on the table at the next ECB meeting in April.

Production of a car © dpa

The German economy is sluggish. The five leading institutes revised their joint forecast released yesterday, downgrading economic growth for this year by 1.2 percentage points to 0.1 percent.

Lars Klingbeil © dpa

What's next? With the economy hurting, more and more politicians are pushing to reform the debt brake. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil told the German newspaper Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND):

People are already making fun of Germany for enforcing the debt brake, which consequently hampers crucial future investments.

Read between the lines: According to the Federal Statistical Office, the total public debt of the federal, state and local governments in Germany rose by 3.3 percent to €2.445 trillion at the end of last year.

Redesigning the fiscal constitution: The institutes also call for a "careful reform of the debt brake." However, the economists write:

More important than expanding the government's overall debt capacity would be a redesign of the financial constitution.

The reform should aim to protect municipal investments from short-term budget problems and limit economic fluctuations at the federal and state levels.

Alev Doğan  © Anne Hufnagl

Easter Special: My colleague Alev Doğan has been delving into the most remarkable love letters from past centuries. Over Easter, she will be reciting these passionate correspondences written by notable figures.

From Beethoven to Voltaire, these letters reveal secret love affairs, demonstrate unconditional love and recount passionate adventures.

Oscar Wilde (1882) © imago

First up is Oscar Wilde: On a May evening in 1895, he wrote to his beloved Lord Alfred Douglas from prison:

Now I see that it would have maimed my life, destroyed my art, torn the threads that make a soul perfect. Though sullied, I will still sing your praise; I will call to you from the deepest abyss. In my solitude, you will be with me. I am determined not to rebel but, in the humility of love, endure all shame, to let my body be dishonored if only my soul preserves your image forever.

Douglas and Wilde were in an openly gay relationship - a scandal in Victorian England.

Tonight, the first episode will be available in German for free on, our app and wherever podcasts are available.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your day and a wonderful Easter weekend. We will be back next Tuesday with a new Pioneer Briefing - US Edition. Until then, stay informed. Stay with me.

Best wishes,

Pioneer Editor, Editor in Chief, The Pioneer
  1. , Pioneer Editor, Editor in Chief, The Pioneer

Editorial Team

Eleanor Cwik, Alexia Ramos, Nico Giese, Alexander Wiedmann, Luisa Thoenig & Julia Rottmann

With contributions from: Daniel Bayer

Translation Team

Eleanor Cwik & Alexia Ramos

Graphics Team

Julian Sander (Cover Art)


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