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Is Israel Next?

carnegieeurope.eu

There’s a new world order currently in the making, and Israel might be the next country to join this growing club. I’m talking about the assault on liberal democracies by autocratic regimes and leaders throughout the world, most dangerously and significantly in Europe, where the clash is more acute. We have, on the one hand, the old guard: Russia and China (and of course, North Korea and some other smaller countries). The interesting things about Russia and China are three-fold. First, both countries flirted with ‘true’ democracy for a while and are now back to full-fledged autocracy. Second, both countries very much want to be part of the big world, do not hide anymore behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ or the ‘Great Wall.’ They are, if you will, modern theocracies. And third, both leaders were elected ‘supposedly’ by democratic elections (and so was Hitler), and maintain civil appearance and modus operandi.

Let me explain what I mean by modus operandi, since I regard it as the most significant trend. It’s a characteristic most defined by Putin, but also by Jinping, that I find most modernly striking and disturbing. Here goes: They dress nicely in suits and ties; they speak quietly and normally, like you and me; they go about their business very civil-like. No more Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Castro or Amin; they’re no longer dressed in uniform, army or otherwise; they give no funny salutes, or wear many medals on their chests; not even public mass executions, concentration camps or gulags. No, everything is done business-like, modern-like, stealthy. But the effect and results are. More or less, the same.

And now come the imitators. The managed-democracies, actual-autocracies wannabes. First among them, very Putin-like, Erdogan of Turkey (and in Syria Assad, of course). Second is Duda of Poland, and third, close behind, Orban of Hungary, who just won ‘reelection’ for the third time. These men are all dictators in disguise, modernly attired, with good speaking manners. Some observers see Czechia coming to the fold soon enough, with Italy playing—with Italian style and flare—not far behind. And of course, who can forget that here in America we have our own semi-despot in the form of President Trump. An admirer of the above-mentioned leaders who, should the opportunity present itself, and should the American democracy prove fragile enough, will establish autocracy here in a heartbeat.

Then we have Israel. And Netanyahu: a twin-like leader of Putin and Erdogan, still operating in an Israeli democracy of old, though with disturbing signs for the future. Let’s set aside for now all the other signs and attributes of a strong leader, long in power, good orator, who know how to play the media to his advantage, who blames everybody else for his troubles, and knows how to win elections, using every trick in the book. But in Netanyahu’s case, all these elements being true, there are some new, different elements that make his case unique, and to Jews the world over, liberal or not, very ominous.

So here, to spell it out, one possible scenario. Netanyahu, who still exists in a liberal democracy, Israeli style, is operating under the darkening cloud of police investigations (quite several of them) against him. On some charges, bribery, graft, and the like, the police already concluded the investigation with recommendations to indict. (Others, with severe possible criminal doings, are still under police investigation.) So the ball is now in the hand of Attorney General Mendelblit, a crony and appointee of Netanyahu, who is supposed to rule in the next couple of months whether to indict the Prime Minister in the court of law.

Should he decide against such indictment, all hell might break loose in the Knesset and the streets. However, Netanyahu would claim victory, would say ‘I told you so: These were all lies, manufactured by the police who are out to get me.’ It will be easier for him then to engineer the closing of all the other ongoing investigations, and should he decide to go to new elections, win them big, as all the polls are indicating. In this scenario, he’ll be able to continue his rule in the disguise of fully operating liberal democracy, but with even more power in his hands, and without the cloud of any more police investigations.

The more interesting—and in a way, troubling—scenario is what would happen should the Attorney General would decide to indict Netanyahu. Under the current Israeli law, a minister in the government must resign under such pending indictment. But there’s no word about what the Prime Minister’s obligation is in such a predicament. (A previous PM, Ehud Olmert, resigned in similar circumstances and, indeed, ended up in jail.) Now, should Netanyahu not resign, and continue business as usual, other parties in his coalition, most probably Kulanu, might leave his government. And therefore, as in the other option, early elections would be the solution.

But in this scenario—i.e., a leader of a main party running for reelection while not only under police investigation, but possibly going to court soon—if Netanyahu wins the elections again, as the polls currently are also indicating, and be able to form a government (no problems there, I predict) it would be a clear indication that the Israeli public rather have him in power, even as a criminal, because of what they perceive as his ‘strong leader’ persona. This is not a certainty, but can only be prevented I believe if a strong, united center-left party will be formed, with Labor and Yesh Atid as one body-politics.

Fat chance, I say. And in any case, should Netanyahu win, it would give him an almost unlimited power. Unlike any leader in Israel history, including Ben-Gurion. The rule of law, already under threat, will be a major casualty, with the next one to go being the Israeli liberal democracy as we knew and loved it, warts-and-all.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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The Price of Victory

Katherinekiviat.com

Many words have been written last year, around the fifth of June, on the occasion of the 50-year anniversary to the Six-Day War of 1967 and its aftermath. I’m not going to add to that here again, but it is now clear for all to see that what has been predicted by some, including by yours truly for the last five years or so, including on this blog, has become a reality. That reality is the death of the Oslo Accords and the Two-State Solution, and the rise of the Bi-National state solution, the Israel-Palestine state option, or alternately the Israeli-Apartheid state option. Take your pick.

This is the price Israel is paying now for its great victory in 1967, and its inability to contain the forces—the settlers’ movement and its American Jewish backers—from exploiting that victory (in which they’d played no part.) The demise of the Palestinian-state option, existing side-by-side with Israel, will bring about a stronger, louder demand from the Palestinians to become equal citizens in the larger state of Israel, stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Israel will not grant them their wish—a wish that will signal the end of Israel as a Jewish state—and instead will try to contain them forever in a ‘limited autonomy,’ a ‘state minus,’ call it what you will. Bantustan-like territories is what I call it.

The world—other than America, at least as long as this president is in charge—won’t stand for it, and Israel will end up being a pariah state among the nations. Just read this quote: “Victory isn’t about lining up behind a specific final-status deal, but rather convincing the other side to accept the country’s existence as a Jewish state, while also demonstrating that there are core issues where Israel simply won’t negotiate… The political tools for trying to coerce ‘defeat’ out of the Palestinians are readily available, even if it’s far from obvious what their actual impact would end up being.”

I’m going to tell you what “their actual impact would end up being.” But before I do that, l’m going to tell you who’s the author of the above quoted statement. It was issued in November 2017 by a joint group of ‘members of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus,’ and members of the ‘Congressional Israel Victory Caucus on Capitol Hill.’ As reported in Tablet Magazine by Armin Rosen on November 17, the Knesset ‘Victory Caucus’ has 16 members from across the spectrum of Zionist parties, and the American version counts 32 members of Congress, the majority of whom are Republicans. They are committed, according to my understanding of their aims and statements, to solidify Israel’s victory by all means necessary, coercing the Palestinians into acceptance of Israel’s terms-of-victory, while giving them peanuts in return.

As the past few weeks prove, since the Trump’s announcement of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it won’t work. If nothing else, the Palestinian people are proud people. As their leader Abbas just said: “Jerusalem is the diamond in the Palestinian crown.” Now, with Netanyahu behind it all, the American administration—led by people without any understanding of the complexity of the issues at hand—tried, with some surprising assistance from Saudi Arabia and maybe even from Egypt, to coerce the Palestinians into accepting a solution of ‘state minus.” Of being ‘second class’ people and nation. The Palestinian leadership, with Abbas at its head, gave a fiery response this week, which already has proven them totally wrong. And will prove them wrong eternally.

You see, Israel—with the support of the Americans—will have the upper hand militarily. No doubt about that. And the fact that there was no major resistance (i.e. Intifada) to the ‘Jerusalem Declaration,’ other than youth throwing stones and burning tires, is a good indication of that. Militarily, Israel has won. Morally though, it’s going to lose. Because the dilemma the Palestinians’ refusal to accept surrender means the end of the Zionist dream in its original intent. If the country is not majority Jewish, or if the country is not a democracy, then the dream is gone.

This is the big conundrum. Put it another way: A victory doesn’t necessarily mean vanquishing and humiliating the enemy entirely, capturing its country forever and wiping its entity off the map. The Russian-Soviets had tried that in Eastern Europe and failed. The Americans and British knew better, and had been proven correct. But Israel, it seems, is refusing to learn this lesson. Most tragically, refusing to learn from its own long history. I don’t proclaim to know exactly how it would end. It might take a few more generations to sort itself out. But the collapse, the defeat—of the Zionist dream, in its purest form—is written in large letters and murals on the wall of victory.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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