By Larry Gordon
These might be the most interesting as well as challenging times from a political perspective. Who would have thought that one day — and that is today — both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump would be able to use identical terms to aptly describe their domestic political situations.
Last week, after Bibi was charged by Israel’s attorney general with bribery, breach of trust, and so on, the prime minister said in response that he was a victim of a witch hunt and the charges against him were a hoax hatched by his political opponents. Bibi, like Trump, added that he is the victim of a political coup taking place in plain sight.
One can only view these proceedings with astonishment. But it seems that though the political systems in the U.S. and Israel are so different, those out of office and off the seat of power seem to have concluded that the only way they can climb back into power is by doing whatever they can to try to make sure that their political opponents are convicted of crimes and are sent to prison. If that is the only way you can succeed politically, something is just not right with whatever you are offering your country.
That is certainly a change in the way politics usually works in both countries. A straight, old-fashioned election will not help the left reacquire power anymore, and they seem to be very well aware of that fact. Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid of Blue and White had their best chance to democratically take over leadership of the country but simply failed.
The only good thing, which we need to appreciate here, is that the right is currently in power in both the U.S. and Israel, and it is the left that is looking to crawl back in and seize power by hook or by crook.
Right now, it seems that Bibi might have a more difficult time holding on to the prime minister’s office than Mr. Trump will have staying and being reelected to the Oval Office.
On the other hand, now that Mr. Netanyahu has been indicted, this is when the painstaking process of adjudicating the case begins. It is conceivable that the legal process itself, until the Israeli judicial system either exonerates or convicts Mr. Netanyahu, can take two to three years.
Here in the U.S. the law is clear that the president cannot be charged with any crimes until he leaves office. In Israel, although Mr. Netanyahu has been technically indicted, as long as he is prime minister, he does not have to step down and will not be tried.
This is where the two scenarios become increasingly similar. The objective in both cases is to somehow force these leaders out of office through external or public pressure. The opposition in both situations will still not be able to win conventional elections against either Bibi or Trump, so criminal charges or scandal is little more than a new political strategy, and that is both shameful and disappointing. Politicians in both countries are now almost simultaneously coming to grips with the idea that their underhanded and devious designs will not be producing desired results anytime soon.
In Israel there is talk this week of Bibi and Gantz reaching a rotating leadership agreement. The preliminary deal calls for a unity government composed of Likud and Blue and White, with Netanyahu serving as PM for the first six months. After that Gantz would be prime minister for two years and then Netanyahu would return to that leadership role for the remainder of what is supposed to be a four-year term. (A later report on Wednesday said Blue and White will not be able to reach any agreements with Mr. Netanyahu.) The deadline to form a ruling coalition one way or another is December 11. So don’t expect anything for at least nine and a half days.
Here in the U.S. there are chinks in the Democratic Party armor. Even the leader of the undermine-Trump movement in Congress, Adam Schiff, told a reporter on Sunday that he was not completely sold on the idea of impeaching the president. And, by the way, this is the man who has repeatedly stated that he possesses definite proof that Mr. Trump has committed impeachable crimes.
As our electoral political process unfolds before us, we may be witnessing something truly amazing. And that is Democratic candidates turning against one another, which is truly a gift. The target here is former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg entering the competition at this point is an unmitigated expression that the abundance of already declared candidates cannot get it done. That is, they cannot beat Donald Trump in November 2020. This means that even though Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg imagine that they are frontrunners in the race to lead Democrats back into the White House, they are simply not up to the task. America is not electing any of these folks, not now and who knows if ever.
Then there is the matter of Mr. Bloomberg’s Jewishness and the fact that he is a billionaire. The other candidates need to be careful of expressing borderline stereotypical and anti-Jewish sentiments. Senator Warren has already used a partial pejorative when she said the other day that with Bloomberg’s declaration of candidacy, she wants people to know that “the presidency is not for sale.” I mean, was she trying to say that the only way a Jew can become president is if he or she buys it? I hope not.
So let’s take inventory in all these ongoing processes. Trump is not being impeached, and don’t be surprised if after the New Year the president ends up sitting down and negotiating with Democratic leaders Pelosi and Schumer to pass legislation that benefits Americans. They tried to steal the presidency with a bit of political shock and awe that they thought would shake everyone up.
In Israel, the left tried the same thing — to force Netanyahu to the sidelines — but it does not look like that is happening either. Lost in all this is the fact that both the U.S. and Israel are strong democracies that at the end of the day demand that the people determine who their leaders will be. Believing that a few self-appointed personalities can determine who is president or prime minister, as you can see, with rare exception, just does not work. And that is a very good thing.