The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Ron is a former strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.
Israel needs Netanyahu more than Netanyahu needs Israel
In trying to understand Israel’s impending elections on Tuesday, September 17th, the second national election in the short period of six months, I can say with certainty that Benjamin Netanyahu will be asked once again by Israel’s President Rivlin to form the next government. Not the 24/7 media onslaught demonizing Netanyahu’s character and his family, his lifestyle, alleged corruption charges, his coalition bickering, nor the partisan media driven reflex to blame Netanyahu for everything wrong in Israel will change this prediction.
As Israel’s former U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren said, “Our economy is excellent, our foreign relations were never better, and we’re secure … we know him, the world knows him – even our enemies know him.” After 71 years of Wars, Terror, Economic hardships, and being a pariah nation among the nations of the world, Prime Minister has given the citizens of Israel what they lack the most, stability and a sense of normalcy. Prime Minister Netanyahu stands out as a true Statesman and world class political leader enjoying superior relations with President Trump, President Putin, and other heads of nations throughout the world. Netanyahu has forged strategic alliances with a majority of the Muslim Sunni nations of the Middle East while transforming Israel into a regional superpower militarily and economically. This is what will enable Netanyahu to be re-elected and continue leading Israel in the foreseeable future. The citizens of Israel want a steady hand at the wheel, and will not relinquish this hard earned stability in their lives recklessly. Politically speaking, Netanyahu has been a “master craftsman” knowing what the Israeli electorate needs and wants, and above all he has been an incredibly effective political leader.
In today’s Israel, Netanyahu is perceived as a pragmatic leader who knows the horrors of war and will do the utmost to prevent the outbreak of war unless absolutely necessary. Netanyahu has successfully kept Israel’s deterrence intact enabling the Israel Defense Forces to execute thousands of aerial attacks on Iranian installations, Iranian proxy militants and military forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and the list goes on. The implications of Israel’s being a relatively safe environment to live and raise families has given Israeli’s a hard earned sense of stability and normalcy.
Netanyahu is a believer in the free market and has put in place economic policies that have increased the standard of living to a level unseen before. Israel has attracted without exception all of the world’s largest technological companies to set up shop in Israel paying salaries that would put Silicon Valley to shame. You can buy almost anything in Israel, a large part of the population are home owners including among the Israeli Arab and Ultra-Orthodox communities. Most Israeli’s fly abroad to vacation a number of times a year with the Israeli Shekel being the strongest currency in the world against the American dollar. Israel has become a world leader in technology, food production, agricultural irrigation, Cyber Security, water purification, and the list goes on.
Beyond all the indisputable facts and accomplishments of Benjamin Netanyahu listed above, what his main political opponents, from center-left and left wing party’s’ seem to miss or purposely chose to ignore is the single most important reason that will ensure Netanyahu’s re-election; lingering traumatic memories of the Oslo Agreement period and the ensuing campaigns of Palestinian terror causing carnage and death on the streets of Israeli cities.
The Oslo Agreement, also known as the Oslo Accords, was an agreement signed between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on September 13, 1993, meant to effectively bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its end by means of territorial concessions and facilitating the creation of the Palestinian Authority. The Oslo Accord was negotiated and signed by Israel’s center left and left wing political parties with the unwavering and enthusiastic support of the Israeli media. From its very inception the Oslo Accords resulted in an uptick in Palestinian terror leading to the unprecedented terror campaign of suicide bombers against the citizens of Israel between the years 1995-2004.
No single War or event during Israel’s 71 years of existence has shaped Israel’s political landscape like the wave of suicide bombers carried out by Palestinian Arab terrorists enjoying the full support of their families, clans, and villages. During this period thousands of Israeli’s were killed or wounded. Buses would explode killing tens of passengers sometime twice a day and on the same bus lines in Jerusalem. The streets of Tel-Aviv became killing fields with the the Dizengoff Center suicide bombing (also Purim massacre) being the most notorious event. On March 4, 1996 on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Purim the Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up outside Dizengoff Center in downtown Tel Aviv, killing 13 Israelis and wounding 130 more. The attack was the fourth suicide bombing in Israel in nine days, bringing the death toll during that span to over 60 killed.
Then and now, the success of Netanyahu and his re-election over the years is in the aftermath of that traumatic period and every election since has been held in the shadow of the Oslo period. Netanyahu’s political longevity is driven by the simple fact that enough Israelis believe they couldn’t live without him and that Israel needs Netanyahu more than Netanyahu needs Israel.
American Jewry in total denial
Not a day goes by without Jews being shot in their synagogues, stabbed, bludgeoned by blocks, physically attacked, pushed to the ground, spat on, cursed, graffiti on the walls of Jewish institutions, graffiti on the walls of synagogues; victims killed, maimed for life, traumatized, hospitalized, extended rehabilitation and the list goes on and on. Pittsburg, Ohio, California, Brooklyn, Great Neck, and the list of locations goes on and on. Older Chassidic Jews, young orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews, non-affiliated Jews; they are all targeted irrespective of their level of Jewishness, irrespective of whether they look or act Jewish; they are preyed upon only because they are Jews. The daily incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, and acceptable level of violence and hate targeting Jewish people anywhere and everywhere is seemingly quietly condoned and accepted as a daily fact of American life.
Where are the powerful Jewish American organizations that are always at the forefront of helping others; Women’s March, Me Too, Black lives Matter, Gays, Latinos, Southern Border, and the list goes on and on. We Jews are always there to be the first to extend a helping hand. Donate funds, arrange media attention, pull strings with politicians, enlist leading newspapers, and the list goes on and on.
Yet when it comes to defending American Jews against the spiraling epidemic of physically violent anti-Semitic attacks against Jews, there is a deafening silence. Jewish organizations which were built for the precise purpose of navigating times like these are to a large extent inadequate, unresponsive, and restrained as if they do not want to rock the boat, as if they are careful not to demand accountability from those that are entrusted to protect us. Too many of these Jewish organizations are operating with a myopic moral compass that guides their largely pathetic indifference. They deny the urgency of the clear and present danger that threaten the wellbeing of American Jews.
Sadly, we the Jewish people are complicit in our own victimhood, making excuses for, and throwing in our lot with the Democratic half of the political system who proudly parade Muslim Congresswomen espousing anti-Semitic poison disguised as progressivism. American Jewry proudly stands on the same stage with Tliab and Omar providing them support and encouragement as they demonize and slander the State of Israel. American Jews have subcontracted their expectation of personal and communal safety to anti-Semitic Democratic politicians who cynically and casually reap political benefits despite their incessant and calculated use of anti-Semitic tropes since being elected. Even New York’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio promised this past June to immediately open an office devoted to combatting anti-Semitism; three months later and uncounted anti-Jewish hate crimes later, nothing has really happened other than a couple of Tweets and press releases. As far as I can assess, Tweets have yet to stop a single attack.
American Jewry being so closely associated with the Democratic Party seems to suffer from perpetual numbness. It seems as if almost no one in the Democratic Party will stand up for American Jews despite the obligatory calls for tolerance, yet the lack of any real action is clearly missing and not a part of the public discourse concerning the epidemic of anti-Semitic attacks throughout America. It seems that it is much easier to be vocally outraged over accusations of disloyalty rather than to demand of the Democratic Party to take a clear stand against anti-Semitic politicians among their ranks and do something about it. It seems as if American Jewry and the communal organizations are complicit in their own humiliations, making excuses and exonerating the very political forces that are empowering violent anti-Semitic attacks by members of the Muslim community and Black Americans often bombarded and inundated by social media references to statements and actions by Democratic politicians such as Tliab and Omar.
Many will claim that this situation is not unique and that throughout Jewish history there have always been members of the tribe who undermined the survival of the Jewish people. American Jewry is undergoing a serious crisis despite the pervasive denial everywhere. Large Jewish communities that were fully assimilated pillars in their respective countries throughout Europe are now no more than memories and memorials. The role of a Jewish minority vocally and visibly at the forefront occupying a disproportionate role in an increasingly toxic political atmosphere always supporting the party that humiliates American Jewry the most is weakening the very Jews that they claim to represent. Their inept defense of and abdication of personal safety of American Jews is a foregone conclusion. Slowly but surely, this support and identification with the Democratic Party has transformed American Jews to be seen as isolated and defenseless in the eyes of anti-Semites, many living their lives on the threshold of crossing the line and physically attacking at random American Jews.
Denial can be understood to be a mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. American Jewry is at the crossroads and must reassess with whom they can count on to ensure the continuation of Jewish communal life in America. Associating with true political allies rather than with those politicians that take American Jewish support for granted should be the first step in a long process of reevaluating of how American Jewry deals with the denial that is blinding their ability to defend American Jewry.
White Men as villains of history and contemporary politics
El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio mark 251 mass shootings in the United States this year (216 days since January 1). This puts 2019 on pace to be the first year since 2016 with an average of more than one mass shooting a day. Altogether, 125 people have been killed in the US in mass shootings in 2019. The number of mass shootings across the U.S. so far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, which tracks every mass shooting in the country. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people were shot (not necessarily killed), excluding the shooter.
The Democratic pack running for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination have lost no time in blaming President Trump and his supporters for the loss of life. The progressive left, supported by the social and national media are claiming that Trump’s narrative about liberals, progressive elites, the Democratic Party, and their unwavering support for unrestricted migration on America’s Southern border (so as to cynically engineer social and demographic changes in America’s heartland) is the cause. By opposing these, President Trump and the Republican party are being held responsible for the latest mass shootings. These progressive, liberal, Democratic Party Presidential wannabees and representatives like the “Squad” have claimed in justification of their vilification of President Trump and American society as a whole, that America was founded on racism, on racial terrorism, and various systems of oppression and discrimination. They express an open hostility towards white men and hold them responsible for the latest attacks. With President Trump being cast in the role of the “usual suspect” and the most visible “White Man” in the room; Democratic contender O’Rourke was even quoted stating “He doesn’t just tolerate, he encourages the kind of open racism and the violence that necessarily follows, that we saw here in El Paso.”
Sadly, these Democratic nominees are blinded by their own myopic ability to understand the roots of homegrown terrorism, a development most associated in recent years with no other than President Obama and the Democratic administration he led. During his term of office President Obama refused to associate or even condone singling out and referring to the Islamist ideology behind the terror attacks that rocked America. The 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, the 2015 San Bernardino attack, the 2009 Fort Hood massacre and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, had fundamentalist Islamic ideology written all over them in bold letters. Fort Hood was infamously described as “workplace violence” even though it was inspired by Islamist hatred and Al-Qaeda’s Anwar al-Awlaki. The Boston bomber terrorist even got a glowing cover of Rolling Stone, and transcripts of the Orlando attack purposely removed their declaration of allegiance to ISIS.
President Obama and his Democratic administration purposely used the term “violent extremism” regarding these kinds of incidents, not referencing the religious motivation that culminated in these mass shootings. The goal of not wanting to offend or link these acts of terror with Islamic ideologies has created the situation that America finds itself in today. This logic of not wanting to offend Muslims and the Islamic religion has filtered down into law enforcement agencies at the national as well as local levels and has impeded these law enforcement agencies from confronting mass shootings as homegrown terrorism in the United States. The identity of a small number of white men involved in recent mass shootings, this out of 251 mass shootings since the beginning of the year, has been the focus of the media, rather than the organizational handicap and years of the internalization of political correctness of law enforcement agencies instituted during the Obama period.
Allocation of resources, confronting networks of hate online and getting to these homegrown terrorists before they carry out their so called “mission” to save America were severely debilitated during the era of President Obama’s policies of not wanting to offend and not doing what is necessary to confront homegrown terror. President Trump must not treat Islamic terror and white supremacy terror as mutually exclusive threats but as one strategic challenge along the all-inclusive wide spectrum of home grown terror.
Law-enforcement agencies will be given the green light to enlist all the resources necessary to reach those that spread network and internet based hate creating motivation and inspiration for those on the threshold of wanting to go out and act to either destroy America or to "save" America. In some of the recent terror attacks, the terrorists left manifestos on internet websites before they carried out their attacks, enabling these terrorists to have been fished out prior to executing their planned terror attacks. Law enforcement agencies will have to un-learn much of the political correctness that has guided their preventive operational activities put in place since the Obama period.
On Christmas Eve 2016, Professor George Ciccariello of Drexel University in Philadelphia, “was” in the words of CNN “dreaming not of a white Christmas, but of a white massacre.” What were Professor Ciccariello’s words? “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide.” In today’s fast paced world of digital information, the outrage delivered through digital media tends to distort and magnify one’s sense of threat, one’s sense of vulnerability. We must begin to ask the difficult question of how did we get to this place, in which hating white people is deemed acceptable and wishing them all murdered is deemed a virtue.
Terror is terror, whether it originates in the back room of a Mosque or in the back room of Dallas garage. By not making the distinction between them, American society can begin to respond effectively to the challenges of terror in America.
Turning elections into a binary choice
The juvenile “Mod Squad” of four freshmen congresswomen deceptively accuse anyone critical of their clearly anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western rantings of being racists and fundamentally opposed to people of color. Ehud Barak and Benny Gantz, both vocal opponents of the Likud party and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dishonestly accuse the current leader of Israel of being a danger to Israel’s Democratic system demonizing the legitimacy of his re-election over the years. What’s common to both the anti-Trump and anti-Netanyahu media supported campaigns orchestrated by the Leftist-progressive political parties in the United States and in Israel, is the goal of making the coming elections in both countries a binary choice, an either us or them choice, an issue of black or white, vote for reality or vote for the illusion.
Netanyahu’s supporters credit him with keeping Israel relatively safe and prosperous, maintaining its Jewish character and Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, and boosting Israel’s standing internationally. In contrast to many of his political predecessors, Netanyahu hasn’t left his mark by “winning” a war or signing a “peace accord” such as the Oslo Accords. His major achievements have been a booming economy with prosperity trickling down benefitting all sectors of the population, combating Iran’s nuclear program which is considered an existential threat on Israel and responding by covertly striking weapons shipments to Israel’s enemies, and by building a massive border fence to stop the flow of illegal African migrants. Netanyahu is perceived as being a politician who speaks the language of the people, is on their side, and they watch his back. His imperfections are the people’s imperfections.
Trump’s supporters credit him with singlehandedly bringing American pride back into the mainstream. Trump’s political message of “Making America Great Again” has been wholly adopted by a majority of Americans as their message too. Since the Trump election, America has experienced an economic boom unseen for decades, unemployment has reached low levels unseen for half a century including the lowest level of unemployment among Black Americans. The opioid epidemic has seen for a first time in 30 years, a 5% drop in overdose deaths. Through executive directives and demanding accountability by the Pharmaceutical industry has resulted in lower drug prices of medication. The “Wall” and Trumps efforts to restrict the chaos of unrestricted flow of illegal immigrants on the Southern border have proven effective and serving the interests of the American public. Trump is perceived as a blunt leader who cuts through to the people who speaks their language, and the public listen to him. Trump is not associated with the liberal elite that tell the American public what to say and what to think and how to vote.
Both support sustainable equality. Both promote economic policies that reinvigorate the key elements of a healthy public-private partnership, empowering the private sector to create more real jobs, supporting a more responsible capitalism that is necessary for growth.
Both President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu build excitement and passion in their respective general public, dominating the public arena and the public discourse. The broadcasted and printed media in the United States and in Israel have hyped up their reporting of both Trump and Netanyahu to levels of a hysterical frenzy creating a loss of credibility and a general public that has tuned them out. The public associate the hyped up media as an extension of the liberal/progressive left that has always patronized and treated the general public as unable to decide for themselves lacking any true intellectual depth. Both use the non-stop ridicule of the media in collusion with opposing political opponents to expose the hypocrisy of the left/progressive agenda who have nothing real to offer the voting public except a childish and unconvincing vision of what American or Israel should be in the future. Both President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu focus on national unity and the betterment of their respective people.
They the media, they the liberal progressive left will warn the public as we approach the election period what philosopher Max Weber has claimed, that the West meaning the “uninformed” general public have always been vulnerable to demagoguery, that Charisma and celebrity have often mattered more than ideas. They will claim that the liberty-loving public intrinsically fearful of an unrestrained radical socialistic system have always been liable to exploitation by charismatic conservative leaders. They will remind us all of Machiavelli's The Prince, and the amoral charlatans desirous only for power and why in politics oratory always mattered. They will bring up Cicero’s warning, that eloquence divorced from wisdom can destroy a country. They will warn us that we should be wary of George Orwell’s warning of totalitarianism. They will quote Hanna Arendt who has said, that between anarchic arbitrariness and the "fantastically fictitious consistency of an ideology," people will often choose the latter. That's "not because they are stupid or wicked," she said, but because it gives the holder of an ideology intellectual security and sometimes escape, providing an illusion of meaning and a sense of self.
Both in the United States and in Israel; the silent majority, the middle class, and all those that reject the condescending attitude of the liberal/progressive elite will reject their warnings and their political message of why only they can prevent the destruction of “our country” as we know it. They the liberal/progressive left will find themselves whether in the coming Israeli elections or in the 2020 elections in the United States to be overwhelmingly rejected by the public and sent back to their respective constituencies as false political prophets having nothing to show for their efforts and losing any semblance of credibility in their eyes of those that believed their deceitful promises to bring about change and their illusion.