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.
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.
The Ethiopian Jewish Community in Israel
Despite this day of rage and violent demonstrations by the Ethiopian community in Israel, someone could easily forget that never in human history has there been a similar act of benevolence towards a whole community by a developed nation. Since the 1980’s, despite the immense dangers, the religious obstacles, the logistical impossibilities, the cultural barriers; Israel has brought tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews from one of the most underdeveloped countries on the globe to the shores of the Promised Land.
These seemingly distant strangers in every way, different even in the color of their skin, have over the past 30 plus years been brought to Israel, not to be forced into servitude as in other periods of human history when blacks where shipped to faraway lands only to become slaves. In fact, there are no other examples of similar acts of kindness in human history that can compare to what Israel has done for the far away Jews of Ethiopia by bringing them, over 130,000 in number today, back to their ancestral homeland, Israel.
Yet, over the past 48 hours, much of the world’s attention on Israel has focused on the demonstrations held by a relatively small group of Ethiopian Jews living in Israel. The reporting by the international media, abetted by local left wing activists, has resulted in the following narrative being portrayed as a factual backdrop to these events: “Longstanding Israeli policy is notoriously racist – worse than South African apartheid according to observers familiar with both systems. Palestinians face ruthless persecution in a nation affording rights to privileged Jews alone. They have virtually none whatever. Ethiopian Jews fare no better – unwanted because they’re black. Citizenship doesn’t matter. Persecuting them is standard Israeli practice.” This unholy alliance of some of the Ethiopian community leaders and left wing radicals threatens to undermine the notable progress that the Ethiopian community has made over the past 30 plus years successfully integrating into Israeli society.
Over this period, Israeli governments, the Jewish Agency, the Federation system, and many tens of NGO’s have funded hundreds of programs for every age group within the Ethiopian Jewish community with only one goal, making their integration into Israeli society accessible and possible. Despite the gaps in education, technology, culture, and vocational skills only a generation ago, their integration into Israeli society is in actuality a real success story. The messages and prepared statements that are conveyed by many of these self-appointed Ethiopian community leaders are nothing more than a conglomeration of anti-white racism and the anti-Zionist ideology of left wing organizations that promote the de-legitimation of the State of Israel. The defamation of the State of Israel and Israeli society cannot be based on random examples of discrimination and prejudice against Ethiopian Israelis. There is no institutionalized discrimination and racism in Israel, and claiming so is not only a moral disgrace but intellectually dishonest.
In fact, it was just over 50 years ago, to the embarrassment of American society, that Blacks could not sit freely in a public bus in the south. Blacks were prevented from entering restaurants and cafes, and segregated to live beyond the tracks. Public schools and Universities prohibited black enrollment until integration was forced upon thousands of American communities by the Supreme Court. So for those of you who don’t know, this is racism, this is discrimination, and none of this exists even remotely in Israel. Yet these self-appointed Ethiopian community leaders have wholly embraced the ideology of victimhood. When Ethiopian husbands murder their Ethiopian wives, a not uncommon tragedy, who’s to blame? It must be their white social workers who evidently were not empathetic enough. Too many Ethiopian children fail to perform well on standardized national tests? This couldn’t be because their parents or communities are unable to assist them. It must be because white racists have designed the tests to be culturally biased. Of course these claims blaming Israeli society are politically biased narratives simply made up to serve the overall accusations that defame the State of Israel.
Turning to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics in 2011/12 and in the transition to 2012/13, we can select a few examples of the real and complex reality that portrays the Ethiopian community in Israel. The percentage of pupils of Ethiopian origin who dropped out was slightly lower than that of the general population of pupils in Hebrew education: Approximately 1.6% of approximately 35,000 pupils of Ethiopian origin who began to study in grades 1-12 in schools under Ministry of Education supervision in the school year of 2011/12 dropped out during that year or in transition to 2012/13, compared with 1.88% among the general Hebrew education. The percentage of women among students of Ethiopian origin who are studying for a first degree was higher than the percentage of women among the general population of students for a first degree – 66.8% versus 56.5%, respectively. The average monthly household expenditure in households of Ethiopian origin was NIS 9,539 compared with NIS 14,272 among the general population households. As for the I.D.F.; 90% of Ethiopian-Israeli combat soldiers complete their service, as opposed to 70% of other combat soldiers. 30% of Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers serve in combat positions, and are likely to complete their full military service.
So, despite the orchestrated and unsuccessful attempts over the past 48 hours to portray Israel as a racist nation, Israel remains true to the noble efforts that brought the whole Ethiopian Jewish community to Israel and to the immense efforts to assist this very special community. Israel brought these good people, out of a genuine desire to enable our Jewish brothers and sisters of Ethiopia to return to their homeland and rejoin the Jewish nation in Zion. As always, this union is not always completely smooth and harmonious. We must continue and fight against the phenomena of discrimination and prejudice, yet reject the false and vicious slandering of the State of Israel by self-appointed Ethiopian community leaders aided and abetted and, of course, funded by left wing radical organizations and ideologies who have no desire to encourage the momentous efforts by Israeli society to fully integrate the Ethiopian community in all of its complexities, but instead use the Ethiopian community to defame the State of Israel.
The Mouth that never shuts up
Oops, Democratic representative from the Bronx, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has done it again. Last week AOC stated during her Instagram Live that the US was running the “concentration camps” on the US-Mexico border, and suggested that anyone who is not bothered by that idea is not particularly concerned with humanity. I have heard rumors that in response to her latest contention comparing the southern border detention to Concentration Camps, she is being considered for being nominated for a “Noble Prize in stupidity”. The person who coined that phrase is Ed Mosberg, who is a Holocaust survivor and has called for AOC to be suspended from Congress. Mosberg continues, “She should be removed from Congress. She’s spreading anti-Semitism, hatred and stupidity,” “The people on the border aren’t forced to be there — they go there on their own will. If someone doesn’t know the difference, either they’re playing stupid or they just don’t care.” Mosberg, who is a lone survivor having lost all of his family during the Holocaust, surviving both the Plaszów and Mauthausen camps, stated: “Her statement is evil. It hurts a lot of people. At the concentration camp, we were not free. We were forced there by the Germans who executed and murdered people — there’s no way you can compare.” That in a nutshell reflects the gutter level that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Party have reached.
Elizabeth Lynne Cheney, a Republican Congresswoman who represents Wyoming, responded by taking offence to AOC’s classification. “Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this,” she wrote on Twitter. AOC later pushed back at Cheney’s sentiment, saying that “shrieking Republicans” and not her were equating “concentration camps” with “death camps”. AOC continues, “And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps,” she wrote on Twitter. “Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial.’ And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.” Its important to note that the Democratic Party did not censure or take any action against AOC for her false and morally corrupt use of the Holocaust to advance a political agenda that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Holocaust or Concentration Camps.
In today’s era of rising and widespread anti-Semitic attacks that are occurring daily throughout the United States, one has to start questioning how the progressive left and the Democratic Party are contributing to the pervasive atmosphere of empowering Jew haters to act as if its open season on Jews. AOC, Ilhan Omar or Rashida Tlaib, are all freshmen Democratic congresswomen. The Democratic trio have made repetitive anti-Semitic statements, sometimes in unison, sometimes in support of one another, and sometimes in total disregard for the consequences of empowering anti-Semites to act against American Jews. The Democratic Party has remained largely on the sidelines unable to do the right thing and dissociate themselves unequivocally from the statements and actions of the Democratic trio of haters of Israel and American Jewry. The Democratic Party has lost all semblance of being deserving of Jewish voters and has joined hands through indifference to those at the forefront of allowing Democratic Party Congresswomen to freely spew their hatred of Jews. American Jews will not be oblivious to this emerging change and will punish the Democratic Party and the change will appear seemingly out of nowhere in the 2020 Presidential elections. Surprisingly, support for Israel may very well be the deciding factor, rather than an outward rebellion against the Democratic Party for its silence against Democratic anti-Semites.
Despite the silence and refusal to dissociate the Democratic Party from the statements and actions of Democratic Jew haters, there will be significant implications. The American Jewish vote that has been traditionally overwhelmingly Democrat may very well change dramatically in the 2020 Presidential election. During the 2018 Florida governor’s race, the Republican candidate and now-Gov. Ron DeSantis made Israel an important issue in his campaign against Democrat Andrew Gillum. DeSantis proclaimed that, if elected, he would be the most pro-Israel Governor in the United States. Trump had received around 24 percent of Florida’s Jewish vote in the 2016 presidential election, DeSantis’s 35 percent of the Jewish vote represented around a 50 percent increase in support for a Republican candidate by Jewish voters in Florida. This significant increase in Jewish support for a Republican candidate is indicative of an emerging trend and may very well be a predictor among Jewish voters in the near future. Let’s not forget the 1980 Presidential elections when Republican nominee Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter. President Carter was then perceived as not being a friend of Israel and Ronald Reagan was viewed as a friend of Israel and as a result Carter received only 45% of the Jewish vote against Ronald Reagan’s 39 percent of the Jewish vote, the rest is history.
If you believe today’s mainstream media, President Trump and his supporters are solely responsible for the rise in anti-Semitism in America. The president is not a racist and he is 100% correct when he says the Democratic Party has become anti-Jewish. The contempt the Democratic party has for the Jewish people will continue to metastasize leaving little choice for American Jews but to abandon the Democratic party at levels unseen since the election of Ronald Reagan.
Bezalel Smotrich’s Arrogance will weaken Netanyahu in the coming elections
In today’s media generated public discourse, perception is everything. The last thing that Prime Minster Netanyahu needed ahead of the Sept 17 snap elections is the outrage of middle of the road non-religious voters over the remarks of MK Smotrich this week. In case you have been on the moon for the past two days and missed how the media relished at this unexpected media freebie to attack and politically weaken Netanyahu and the Likud party. Smotrich stated in his own words, without “stuttering”, and without “remorse”; speaking Sunday at the Jerusalem Day celebration at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, Smotrich said, "We want the justice portfolio, because we want to return the Torah to its foundation." On Monday, he told Reshet Bet radio in an interview, “My long-term desires are for the State of Israel to operate according to the Torah. This is how it should be. This is a Jewish state. The state of the Jewish people will return to being conducted as it was during the days of King David and King Solomon - according to Torah law.”
Only 10 days ago we witnessed the political results of right wing arrogance due to the breakaway New Right party failing to cross the threshold and enter the Knesset weakening the ability of the Likud party to form a coalition and sending the country to snap elections. If there is something that frightens away the secular middle of the road voting bloc is talk of religious coercion in the public sphere and transforming Israel into a Halachic state. Arrogance tends to be protective, of itself and of other ills, says a Chinese proverb, ”It hates humility, and justifies the sin.” Since the recent elections Bezalel Smotrich has become more confident in his self-righteousness, showing a blatant disregard for the political reality that Israel is experiencing. In our era of partisan politics when new technologies spread and facilitate the laser-speed proliferation of inaccurate or out of context information, the damage can be extensive and at times even irreversible. Avigdor Leiberman, the politician solely responsible for preventing the formation of a right wing coalition by Netanyahu, didn’t lose a second running from studio to studio using the statements of Smotrich as evidence that only he and not Netanyahu can safeguard the secular rights of Israelis.
Smotrich seems to have made a decision to transform the National Union party to the party of “know-it-all-ism” elevating it to the party of arrogance and blind conviction. In one major swoop he has branded himself and his party as the party of unrepentant religious extremism and intolerance. On his climb up the political ladder he has evidently decided that rather than being capable of uniting he is reaching out for the leadership of Israel’s most uncompromisingly divisive politician. The upcoming elections may very well be about religion and the State of Modern Israel. The simmering tension in Israeli society between secular-religious-ultra orthodox will resurface and create the politically charged atmosphere that can only benefit the left and the sworn political enemies of Netanyahu and the Likud.
For most of the Israeli public, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is more or less over and it’s only a question of time before the Palestinians get it and move on. Israel’s economy is booming and prosperity has trickled down to all segments of society with virtually no unemployment and the level of poverty receding throughout the years of Netanyahu’s terms as Prime Minister. Millions of Israeli’s are flying out abroad to vacation and Israel’s standard of living is reaching heights unseen during the 71 years since Israel’s inception.
The opposition parties and the biased media against Netanyahu and the Likud’s re-election have really nothing left to campaign on or market to the Israeli public. Nothing better than re-branding the Likud as the party that will bring on a Halachic State. Let the public believe that Netanyahu’s re-election will empower Smotrich and the unltra-Orthodox parties to impose their lifestyle on the secular majority in Israel. They will claim that if the Likud is re-elected and Netanyahu is Prime Minister then women will be forced to sit at the back of the bus, culture and leisure venues will be shut down on Shabbat, and so forth. The politics of fear will be deafening and amplified by the biased media who smell an opportunity rarely given to opposition political parties who would otherwise have nothing to offer to the general public other than the threat of religious coercion.
The internal struggle within the right wing bloc has become the single most major obstacle in getting the needed voting majority and forming Israel’s next governing coalition. This divisiveness may very well force a realignment of Israel’s political map forcing political compromises from center-left parties that would be willing to enter Netanyahu’s ruling coalition. It would be ironic that in response to unnecessary political remarks from right wing politicians, center left political parties who had nowhere to go have suddenly become empowered by the very politicians who oppose their political agenda.
Later this month, Netanyahu will be hosting US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Russian Secretary of the Security Council Nikolay Patrushev who will be meeting in Jerusalem to discuss regional security issues. “I proposed to [US President Donald] Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to form a US-Russia-Israel trilateral committee that would meet in Jerusalem to discuss the security situation in the Middle East and both of them agreed,” Netanyahu said. “This is unprecedented. A meeting like that has never taken place before in Israel. Never.”
Sadly, the important strategic work still needed to ensure Israel’s military and defense policies, meticulously planned and executed by Prime Minister Netanyahu may very well be a victim of the recent gutter talk of religious coercion, and the politics of fear.