Saturday, November 5, 2016

Speaking Of Destruction From Within ...

... let's take a look at the state of Israel.  It was founded in its contemporary form in 1948, with the partition of what had been the British-controlled territory of Palestine.  The vision of its founders was this:  the modern Israeli state, in the wake of the Holocaust, would become a homeland for everyone of the Jewish faith, with all degrees of observance to be respected and permitted.  That vision is what has given Israel its strength as a nation, both internally and externally.  In particular, that vision is what has motivated American Jews to give Israel their unwavering support for decades. And that vision is what has enabled Israel to survive crisis after crisis for decades.

But, almost on cue, that vision began to die with the end of the Cold War.  Enter, stage right (extremely right) an influx of largely ultra-Orthodox refugees from the former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact nations.  Subsequently entering from extreme stage right, Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel.

Like his conservative counterparts in this country, Netanyahu cares only about power, and is willing to wrap his inherently anti-democratic approach to governance in fate-of-the-nation-is-at-stake rhetoric in order to appeal to fear.  And it works to keep him in power, in part because the Israelis are surrounded by nations who would be happy to see it and its people destroyed.  But it mainly works because Israel's population is now dominated by people who are not accustomed to true democratic rule.  They have never had a chance to see the pre-Netanyahu Israel, where both liberal and conservative leaders, as well as secular and religious ones, built their triumphs on the strength of hope, and not fear.

And like his conservative counterparts in this country, Netanyahu practices divide-and-conquer politics, rewarding his supporters and punishing his opponents.  Take a look (note:  may require a subscription).

It's time to revisit the terms under which U.S. aid to Israel is provided.  We need to make it clear that Americans want the original vision of Israel honored, not Netanyahu's.  Only then will Israel have real reason to replace fear with hope.

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