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The Scoop: Why Trump & Netanyahu are Bent on Destroying our Democracies

worthynews.com

Our democracies, both in America and in Israel, are facing a real and present danger. It’s no joke, my friends: so much so that lately in some “respectable” media outlets, commentators and politicians were discussing seriously—I repeat: seriously!—the possibility that should trump lose the 2020 Presidential Election, not only he won’t relinquish his hold on power willingly, peacefully and democratically, but will unleash on us a new Civil War. Laugh to your heart content, but one such esteemed politician urged viewers on Fox TV to start arming themselves.

In Israel, meanwhile, the situation is somewhat different (though not as different as one might think). The notion and possibility of “Wars of the Jews” have been circulated in the open for a long time. Now though, the acuteness of such a possibility in becoming a reality has been upgraded by the approaching elections. And, if not a threat of civil war yet, at least a real danger to the survival of Israel’s democracy.

Now, you may challenge me on the validity of the word “scoop” in the title, but I challenge you to wait until you read the article to its end. Then judge its accuracy. Also, take in consideration the larger definition of the word scoop. I mean not only as a piece of breaking news nobody else broke before, but examining also the new take on the old news in the larger sense. And on that I truly believe I have something new to tell you, regarding the cause of the real danger to our democracies.

To begin with: Politicians and commentators alike are referring to Trump’s fight for survival, and especially to Netanyahu’s fight for survival, as though they were fighting for their “political lives.” Numerous articles have been written about that. But not so, I say: They are fighting for their “lives!” Pure and simple. Let me explain, starting with trump, simply because my concern today is more with Netanyahu, so I’ll dispose of the Trump argument as quick as possible.

It is well known and extensively documented that Trump’s legal challenges and difficulties have not started after he was elected president, but long before. According to an entry in Wikipedia, “… an analysis by ‘USA Today’ published in June 2016 found that over the previous three decades United States president Donald Trump and his businesses have been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. federal courts and state court, an unprecedented number for a U.S. presidential candidate.”

Add to that the legal issues, maybe crimes even, we still don’t know about, like what might be found in his tax returns. I personally believe that the reason he’d decided to run and become president is in fact to protect himself from his mounting legal problems. He was corrupted much before, throughout his business life; it wasn’t that power has corrupted him while he’s in office. Just look at all his cronies that had surrounded him for a long time, and are now going to jail. Simply put: He decided to be the president in order to stay out of jail.

As for Netanyahu, the situation is somewhat different, yet still the same at the end. I don’t believe he was corrupted, certainly not in any legal sense, before he was elected Prime Minister, which is now more than 10 years on. His is really a case of power corrupts. As to his mounting legal challenges, and his expected indictment by Israel’s attorney general on three charges of “fraud and breach of trust,” including one on bribery, I won’t go into it now because so much has been written about it already, and because I will be speaking about it soon at congregation Bet Haverim in Davis, April 3rd 7pm. My talk would be centered on the coming Israeli elections and Israel’s fight for democracy.

In Netanyahu’s case, as many observers have pointed out, he’s clearly fighting for his political life. And now, supposedly, he’s facing his gravest challenge yet. Not so, I say. First, as for his political life, he’s been Prime Minister for a long time. Almost as long as David Ben-Gurion. The way I see it, he’s fighting for his life! You see, if he loses this elections—it’s now seemed a possibility, at least—he not only will lose his political power, and might resign finally as the leader of the Likud Party, but he’s sure going on trial for the above mentioned 3 indictments. The likelihood of him, as recent history in Israel had surely taught him, ending up in prison is very real. Destroying not only his legacy, but his life.

His only way of avoiding this, of surviving this, is winning the elections. And if not by winning outright, then still forming the next government. Which is a possibility. Should that to have happened, the first business on his agenda—which he would make clear to all the parties joining his coalition before forming the government–would be to pass in the Israeli Knesset these 3 laws: 1. A Prime Minister cannot be indicted and go on trial while he’s in office. 2. A Prime Minister cannot be investigated on crimes he may have committed while in office. 3. It will apply retroactively to him. Passing these laws, should he succeed, would secure his leadership and immunity from prosecution forever,

It will also mean that he will be forever above the low. So as long as he’s Prime Minister, he will be able to continue to commit crimes at will. And that, my friends, is the definition of a dictator. Which also means, in the broader sense, the end of democracy in Israel. These two leaders try to cover up their crimes and protect their lives, even if in the process they will destroy our way of life and our democracies.

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In the land of Israel

Amazon.com

In the land of Israel—modern Israel, that is—never lived a finest man than Amos oz. As a writer; as a salt-of-the-earth farmer and warrior; as a peace-loving man and activist; as a man of his word and vision. And when he died unexpectedly from a sudden illness at the end of last year, at age 79, a voice whispered in my ear—it was him, I believe—that his optimistic outlook of Israel just couldn’t stand the disaster—cry for the ages, as we like to say in Hebrew—of the coming elections, and of what they might bring upon the country and people he so much loved.

About the latter I will write in the next month or two, just before the elections, but about the former—the man and his vision—allow me to add my humble voice to the many who spoke and wrote so appraisingly about him. To my sorrow, though he was one of the founders of the ‘Peace Now’ movement (and in a way, so was I), we never met. But that’s not exactly true, since I’d met him so often through his essays and books. One of which I’ve found in my library, in a section reserved—one shelf for fiction, one shelf for non-fiction—for the best works I ever read.

I reread ‘In the Land of Israel’ in his honor. And though his fiction was always more to my liking—The New Yorker just published his beautiful short story, “All Rivers,” from which you can learn so much about the man and his origins—I found plenty to admire, and to fear, in this book from 1982. In it, Amos Oz chronicled his interviews with everyday Israelis, which he had conducted throughout the land, and the occupied land, allowing them to speak their mind freely. It was first published in the Israeli morning paper ‘Davar,’ and later collected into this book.

He took a journey while writing it, becoming “a tourist in his own country in order to explore and record the cauldron of emotions, fears and prejudices” of Israelis. As he writes in his ‘Author’s notes:’ “Every place is an entire world and every man is a world in himself, and I reached only a few places and a few people, and even then I was able to see and to hear only a little of so much.”

In line with his words, I’ve chosen to highlight only two people who spoke to him, from two different “worlds,” though they lived so close to each other. The first person (he names no names, generally, in this book), it that of a resident of the development town of Bet Shemesh, whom he met at a Café in the center square, together with some others, all of them Mizrachim: Immigrants from Arab countries and North African countries. What used to be referred to back then as the “Second Israel.” Among so many other things, he’d said this:

“When you were on top (he meant Ashkenazim, kibbutzniks, the “First Israel,” H.D.), you hid us in holes, in moshavim and in development towns, so the tourists wouldn’t see us; so we wouldn’t stain your image; so they’d think this was a white country. But that’s all over now, because now we’ve come out of our holes. You still haven’t figured out what hit you, have you?”

And still more: “You guys, your time is past. Even after Begin (the Prime Minister then, H.D.) you won’t make a comeback in another hundred years. We are sick of you and your squabbles. Yes to the Palestinian state or no to the Palestinian state… To give back or not to give back, peace in the Galilee or not… Anything goes.”

Two things strike me here: First, the force of the hurt and resentment that existed back then; second, the prophecy ingrained in his simple words. It may be that, as to the former, the equilibrium had changed, but if so, just a bit. What used to be the “First Israel” is now centered in Tel Aviv and around it, no more just Ashkenazim but liberals, secular Israelis of all backgrounds, who emphasize democracy first and Jewish second.

The “Second Israel” is now centered in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the settlements of the West Bank, and it’s not only Mizrachim there now, but everybody who put the emphasis on Jewish first and democracy second. Moreover: As the second quote indicates, the “Second Israel” is still in power. It is actually the “First Israel” now. And the hell with the rest. The occupation is not occupation; the West Bank is Judah and Samaria; the rule of law is our law; the hell with the rest of Israel.

Here’s then is the second quote, from a veteran member of Amos Oz’s kibbutz, Hulda: “Ask them—hand on your heart, as they said to you in Bet Shemesh—whether now, when the power is in Begin’s hands, and in theirs, they really think it pays to settle accounts with us like this, the night of the long knives. And ask them another thing as well, hand on your heart: Was everything we did in this country in 50 years, or 80 years, so bad? Was it all malicious? Everything we built here at such great sacrifice, everything we created out of nothing, including the mistakes we surely made? What would the Land of Israel look like without the Labor movement?”

There would be no Land of Israel, if you ask me. Certainly not the “Land of Israel” where Amos Oz walked and wrote. He left us very poor, I’d say that, teetering on the edge of an abyss.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

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