Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Are the Democrats and America's Jews Headed for Divorce from Netanyahu's Israel?

Put it down to irreconcilable differences. The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, claims that,  "Netanyahu is accelerating the pace of his country’s estrangement from everyone but ethnocentric and anti-democratic nationalists and xenophobes."
Israelis may still believe they are a chosen and embattled people, a light unto start-up nations, a paragon of morality and virtue and the most unfairly maligned country on the face of the earth, but Israel is having an increasingly hard time convincing anyone who is not a right-wing ideologue or Evangelical believer of these supposedly self-evident truths. For all the rest, in varying degrees, Israel’s stature has steadily deteriorated from good to bad to worse.

Historically, we are nearing the end of a 70-year, 180-degree polar reversal of Israel’s positioning on the ideological spectrum. Forty years of Likud revisionism may have obfuscated who did what during the fight for Israel’s independence, but Israel, by and large, is a creature of the left. Its founders and builders were fervently committed Zionist socialists...
...Israel slowly but surely drifted away from its leftist roots and embraced a xenophobic religious and nationalist right instead.
...For reasons that may include the right-wing bent of his coalition, the surprise triumph of Trump, a heightened sense of victimhood, an urge for vindictiveness and a feeling that he is finally free to act on his core beliefs - Netanyahu has pushed Israel further and harder to the right, thus alienating, by definition, increasingly large sections left and center.  
...Somewhere around 2015, Netanyahu decided to shed his disguise, to stop pretending and to reappear on the world stage as the spiteful right-wing reactionary that his critics always claimed was the one true Bibi. 
In the process and as a result, Israel has changed its tune. ... Nonetheless, the traditional, open-minded accentuation of its positive qualities is no longer the main thrust of Israel’s PR efforts. It now takes a back seat to holier-than-thou self-righteousness, constant vendetta against detractors, a clear-cut effort to delegitimize any and all criticism and a blatant campaign to equate it with latent or open anti-Semitism. 
Netanyahu’s Israel rejects well-meaning liberal supporters who object to Israeli policies for all the right reasons and cuddles erstwhile allies who support it for all the wrong ones, including a supposedly shared hostility towards foreigners, immigrants and Muslims, as well as so-called universalist, cosmopolitan Jews who look like George Soros or work to improve civil society like the New Israel Fund
If one can judge a country by the company it keeps, Israel leaves no room for doubt: It is consciously and willingly reneging on the Western liberal values to which it committed itself at creation and plunging head-first into the fetid waters of the anti-democratic cesspool its founders and liberal supporters so clearly abhorred.
...The gap between Israel’s self-absorption and willful blindness and the basic tenets of enlightened liberals will soon become unbridgeable. They already amount to “irreconcilable differences” that, in many countries, constitute valid grounds for turning a trial separation into a no-fault divorce. Which is all fine and dandy, perhaps, as long as Trump stays in power, Evangelicals remain committed, Republicans offer blind support, Sheldon Adelson keeps his checkbook open, right-wingers are ascendant throughout Europe and widespread fear and loathing of emigrating Muslims translate into default support for the country whose leader openly boasts of serving as the forward Western outpost that keeps them at bay. 
Otherwise, Israel will ultimately and inevitably pay a steep price for its foolhardy neglect of the liberal world. The first accounting may come as early as November 6, if the U.S. Congress falls into the hands of a reinvigorated Democratic Party, depleted of its pro-Israeli stalwarts, increasingly beholden to its liberal, left-wing flank, eager to flex its muscles and to start exacting its revenge. 

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