Benny Gantz and Donald Trump - 1-27-20 - photo credit Shealah Craighead

By Larry Gordon
Publisher

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said more than a few times that she prays for President Trump. The president demonstrates that he gets it when he says that he knows Pelosi is praying for him — but praying for his failure and downfall. She does not make it sound like that, but that is just the way it is. It’s the new politics of hate.

In Israel, Avigdor Lieberman seems willing to do anything so long as it adds up to the defeat and failure of Bibi Netanyahu. Lieberman has an immense amount of hostility that he directs at Bibi. It can be stated pretty clearly that Lieberman hates Netanyahu.

Of course, you could not miss it, but Congressmen Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler hate Trump, and he hates them in return as well.

On the flip side of this ridiculous adults-acting-like-schoolchildren hate fest is the way in which both Trump and Netanyahu really like each other. Critics will say that it is because of their common ground of trying to work their way out of difficult situations. I believe it is the fact that they just might see the condition of the world in a similar fashion that is the agent that draws them together.

The question in all of these situations is: What happened to the idea of disagreeing about policies and outlooks in a civilized and mature manner? Why is the only goal in politics today to seek the destruction and hopefully imprisonment of those who oppose you?

Here in the U.S., the Democrats do not just want to unseat President Trump but seem to want to render him nonexistent. So far, it looks like this approach is backfiring on the Democrats, but we really will not know until after the November election.

In three weeks, there will be yet another election in Israel that at this point looks like it will be inconclusive, identical to what occurred in the last two elections. Not only does the left in Israel hate Bibi, but Lieberman, who is a right-winger, hates Bibi, too.

Here in the U.S., the Republicans were sailing along nicely until the hostility that Utah Senator Mitt Romney harbors for Mr. Trump was just too much for Romney to contain. He broke ranks with his party and voted in favor of one of the two articles of impeachment against the president. Legal experts have said that none of the charges against Trump were impeachable offenses, but there was another consideration. Romney hates Trump.

Can it really be that President Trump thrives on hostility directed at him from political opponents? Does Bibi like it? More importantly, how do the people feel about this extreme tension that exists between our leaders?

The question is how this is going to play out over the next few weeks in Israel. Blue and White head Benny Gantz met with the Joint List party head, Ayman Odeh, this week to see how his party can form a coalition that will govern the State of Israel going forward. It’s apparently a non-starter, as Odeh said immediately after his meeting that the conditions under which he will join the government include no Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and not sitting in a government with Lieberman, as he says that the Yisrael Beiteinu leader is an anti-Arab right-winger.

At this point it looks like no party will be able to form a government without Lieberman, so it just might be that Israel is headed for yet another governing stalemate with no real end in sight. Lieberman will only relent if and when Bibi steps aside. That is why Netanyahu decided to give up on securing immunity from prosecution and has decided to go to trial on what many consider flimsy charges.

The similarities to the Trump situation here is uncanny and as close to identical as you can get. Donald Trump is doing well and his national popularity is increasing even as those looking to take him down have announced their determination to keep after him. Bibi is hoping for the same effect.

In Israel, it is not just a matter of political opponents and different approaches to policy going forward. Now with the release of the Trump Deal of the Century, the question is what the plan really entails, and, in the aftermath of both Gantz and Netanyahu meeting with Mr. Trump in Washington last week, which aspect of the plan both leaders really support.

If Gantz supports the plan, as he says, then how can he even entertain the possibility of forming a government with the Knesset Arabs? That is, unless the talk about this cooperation is part tactic and part sham.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the deal, the impression existed that Israel had a green light from DC to annex all the settlement communities in the territories. Then shortly thereafter, Israel was told not to move too quickly on annexation. At first, the suggestion was to wait until after the Israel elections, but then the idea was floated to wait for the official Palestinian response to the Trump proposals.

About a week later, it began to look like the peace plan was not as completely pro-Israel as people involved initially believed. It became known that the plan called for Highway 60, which traverses a lot of the settlement communities, to be governed and managed by the Palestinian Authority. In a column this week, Caroline Glick wrote that it was that part of the plan that attracted Mr. Gantz and others to quickly endorse it.

U.S. officials commented on the matter, saying that this part of the peace plan was a mistake and had to be revised. It would be best if Israel could somehow produce a unified stance, especially on the matter of the peace plan, so as to come to the realization that there is no partner for peace and that any effort along these lines will lead nowhere.

The different folks hate each other too much for that to happen anytime soon, and that is too bad. Here in the U.S. at least there isn’t any peace plan on the table that could potentially jeopardize our existence. But the different sides here in the U.S., as we have witnessed, hold each other in unprecedented disdain.

Quite some time ago I had the occasion to meet then-chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yona Metzger. He was ultimately convicted of monetizing the chief rabbinate in Israel and served some time in prison. Before he fell out of favor, however, he told me the story of how he was once in Washington, DC for a meeting of religious leaders from around the Middle East. He said that prior to one of the meetings, as he was sitting outside a meeting room, he began to speak with a Muslim cleric from the Gaza Strip.

He said that they introduced themselves to one another and began speaking about their families. It turns out that they both had teenage sons who were beginning to drive. They both expressed their concern about their kids driving at an early age and so on. They talked about their other children and the challenges of raising their families. Rabbi Metzger said that it was a nice, pleasant, and cordial conversation.

Rabbi Metzger said that as they rose to move on, they shook hands, and the imam from Gaza said to the rabbi, “You know, I now hate you less than I did a half-hour ago.”

It was an astute comment, one that applies to a great deal of the politics that exists today. Not hating your opponent or your enemy as strongly as you did yesterday may not look like great progress. But it’s a start. 

You can reach Larry Gordon at editor@5tjt.com

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