There are less than five weeks to go until Israelis cast votes in an election that could either reinvigorate the coalition government of Prime Minister Netanyahu or turn the country upside down and bring new blood to power.
Most intriguing about what is happening in Israel today is how it astoundingly mirrors what is taking place here in the political landscape of the United States.
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu are in agreement on just about all vital issues impacting the situation in the Middle East. While that is good for both countries, and especially for Israel, the left and mainstream media in both countries are determined, in one way or another, to banish both from being the leaders of their respective countries.
The nuances in the legal systems of both countries is fortunately preventing these objectives from being realized to the satisfaction of the various opposition factions. Here in the United States, a sitting president cannot be indicted for a criminal act while he or she is still in office. While there are some who disagree with that formulation, legal scholars such as Professor Alan Dershowitz are of the opinion that charging a sitting president is not legal.
That contention has fostered a disagreement with New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee who insists that a sitting president can be brought up on criminal charges.
It seems that arriving at any legal decisions or conclusions here is not the objective. The Democratic opposition has been somewhat emboldened by their wins that handed them a majority in the House after the last election. Obviously, they feel that this is a precursor to 2020 when President Trump, along with the House, is up for re-election.
In Israel there is an election on April 9. Under routine circumstances, Bibi Netanyahu would sail to an easy and assured victory.
Netanyahu too has legal troubles that have become a focus in the upcoming election. The main focus in Israel and the United States appears to be instilling doubt in everyday, rank-and-file citizens with the intent of convincing people in both countries to vote for whomever is running against Bibi or Trump.
Another matter both countries have in common is the nature of the opposition looking to unseat the incumbents. The opposition in Israel seems more organized than ours in the United States. The American election is almost 20 months away, and it seems to have more elements of comedy than truly serious political competitors.
The legal process in Israel, as far as Netanyahu is concerned, is, by its very nature, intended to be a long drawn-out one. Indeed, in some ways it is representative of how the Talmud laboriously explains in Sanhedrin the deliberately slow process of seeking justice, especially in capital cases.
Many are under the impression that the attorney general in Israel, Amichai Mandelblit, announced the indictment of the prime minister in three cases that have been under investigation for at least two years. The attorney general announced last week that he has arrived at the decision that he intends to bring charges against the prime minister. If you read the next paragraph in any of the reportage on this subject you will come to the realization that if there is going to be an actual indictment or charge brought against Mr. Netanyahu, it is probably as much as a year away.
Here in the U.S., there is a relentless barrage from Democrats doing their utmost to create the impression that President Trump has been discovered indulging in some kind of illegal activity that warrants his impeachment or removal from office.
What we are not told by the liberal and mainstream media is that a president can only be brought up on charges that might result in impeachment for crimes or offenses that were committed when already in office. Whether Trump’s tax returns were embellished or redacted in the 1990s, they do not warrant accusations that could result in impeachment.
The idea here is solely to wear down the public to the point that when the time comes to vote, the broad consensus will be that we have had enough of these possible crimes or even a hint of something out of the ordinary, and that we want a clean break with the past. That means everyone taking a step to the left and, more important, voting for Democrats through the American heartland.
And now in Israel they are indulging in the same practice. To say that the suggested charges against Prime Minister Netanyahu are flimsy is an understatement. The attorney general has been investigating these incidents for years. It is obvious that Mr. Mandelblit had no choice but to succumb to the pressure being applied by Bibi’s opponents — namely Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid.
Now with the emergence of the Otzma Yehudit Party that has agreed to run jointly with other right-wing parties so as not to squander votes, Netanyahu is under assault for encouraging and supporting what their critics call Kahanists and racists.
Bret Stephens, in last weekend’s New York Times, wrote that it is time for Bibi to step down for the deal he shepherded with the Otzma Yehudit Party. A few days prior to the Stephens piece, the Times editorialized under the headline, “Mr. Netanyahu Stoops to Survive,” an accusation that says that the PM is associating himself with racists.
Many Jewish leaders have distanced themselves from Netanyahu following the creation of the Union of The Right-Wing Parties, including 22 Young Israel congregations who opposed pronouncements by their National Council leadership aligning the organization with combined right-wing party list.
What remains unstated in any of these forums is the “soft prejudice of low expectations,” which, in fact, is a quiet and understated piece of racism in this context.
The Knesset allows Arab Knesset members to spew the worst kind of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric and even protects their right to do so under Israel’s democratic policies. Are the Times and others trying to tell us that this is the best we can expect from Arab members of the Knesset and that their type of hatefulness is to be expected and tolerated? Let’s hope not.
In the meantime, keep in mind that this is not about violations of the law. It’s about winning an election by deceiving the public, the use of fake news and ascending to power. That’s all it is.
Shomron Governor Visits to Promote Cooperation
A delegation is here this week to do battle with the scourge of BDS, the ongoing destructive activity of the effort to boycott everything Israel.
“BDS is the new antisemitism,” said Yossi Dagan, the governor of the Shomron, also known as the Samaria.
The Shomron is a vast, mountainous portion of the land of Israel liberated from Jordan in the Six Day War more than a half-century ago. Today the Shomron is dotted with growing Jewish communities close to Arab villages.
One of the key objectives of this visit is to meet with leaders and communities here and in Washington, D.C., and demonstrate the peaceful way Arabs and Jews are working together.
The tour features Governor Dagan and Sheikh Nasser Al Tamimi of Ramallah, who leads a Palestinian community focused on building the economy of the area and improving the lives of its residents and their families.
One of the greatest achievements in the area has been the establishment of the Barkan Industrial Zone where 154 companies are functioning and 8,000 people are employed, with the backgrounds of the employees split just about evenly between Jews and Arabs.
The delegation will address the Five Towns community in two venues, first on Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the Young Israel of Woodmere and on Sunday night at 8 p.m. at Congregation Bais Tefillah. After their weekend in the Five Towns, the group travels to Washington, D.C., to share the message of economic co-existence and how BDS activists are seeking to destroy these joint efforts in their wrathful drive to damage Israel.
Two years ago, the Shomron entered into a twin-cities agreement with the Town of Hempstead, which is emblematic of the support that our community — the Five Towns, in particular — provides to businesses and other projects in the Shomron.