Well, Israel is now five days away and counting down to a momentous election, and a few things have become painfully obvious.
We knew it was not going to be an easy election; one doubts that there has ever been a dirtier one. True politics is a dirty business but this election and the actions of our Prime Minister have probably set new records.
Under the governments of Netanyahu, Israel has enjoyed some significant accomplishments. Overall the economy has been strong; we enjoy relations with an ever larger amount of nations worldwide; the United States moved her embassy to Jerusalem and recognized reality with regard to the Golan Heights. We even have a vehicle going to the moon. However, today more than ever, we are facing serious existential threats from Iran on several fronts. We also have two strengthened terrorist organizations on our Northern and Southern borders. There are two and a half million mostly unhappy Palestinians waiting to start a third intifada in Judea and Samaria. Our transportation infrastructure is struggling as is our underfunded hospital system. And, of course, there remain serious socials issues that need to be addressed within our Israeli society with respect to the haredi, the ultra-religious and extremist groups, our Israeli Arab citizens and other minorities, and the population as a whole.
So what has this election been about? Lies, smears, fake news, anything and everything but the really important issues facing the country. Nothing about unity. Nothing about dealing with the aforementioned serious social issues affecting the country. Nothing about moving forward in some way with respect to our conflict with the Palestinians. Does the Likud Government even have a plan of how to move the country forward in any area? Are we living in a bubble? For the most part it has been all about Netanyahu and it is he who has been driving the conversation – all for the end game of staying in power.
Which side brought up allegations of alleged sexual misconduct from forty years ago against Benny Gantz which has long since receded into the cesspool (Miri Regev) where it came from. Who encouraged a union of right wing parties including followers of the racist Meir Kahane in order to improve his chances to barter together a governing coalition? Who publicized that years ago Benny Gantz visited a psychiatrist? (actually if half of the country hasn’t they probably should have). Which side has been accused by both the local and foreign media of misusing twitter to plant fake accounts, fake news and intentionally use bots? Netanyahu has co-opted the use of technology to promote himself – witness his own channel on Facebook. Which side is taking quotes from Benny Gantz made months ago and portraying them like they were made yesterday? Who is it that plays the race card when he states that Gantz will make a coalition agreement with the non-zionist Arab parties when there is absolutely no evidence for that claim? Reminds one of the last campaign when the Prime Minister claimed that “the Arabs are voting in droves” which worked to further divide and scare the public.
This morning, the 4th of April, the Huffington Post published another damning article about one of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s alleged business deals, again via his cousin, Nathan Milikowsky. Netanyahu invested in a company doing business with Libya in contravention of the U.S. nuclear non-proliferation regulations and for which they were subsequently fined. Before leaving for Moscow Netanyahu brushed off this report with his usual “I understand the economy and I am good at business”. Terrific, Netanyahu obviously uses personal connections to make money for himself. The question that needs to be asked is: “Why is it that while being the Prime Minister of Israel the Mr Netanyahu feels he need not devote one hundred percent of his time to the best interests of our country and not himself? That is what putting country before self is all about.
Yesterday, after being missing since 1982, the body of our combat soldier, Zachery Baumel, was suddenly returned to Israel. Of course, all Israelis will rejoice that his family will finally receive a measure of closure. That said, it is not wrong to question the timing of this “good news”. It is entirely in keeping with Netanyahu’s lengthy track record of being able to “leverage” such “coincidences” to his electoral advantage. If he could somehow manage to find a way to dig up the grave of his fallen brother Yonatan, a real hero, to help him get elected, he would not hesitate to do so.
Today Netanyahu is off to meet his friend Putin; on Sunday he welcomed his friend Bolsonaro from Brazil; last week he met his friend President Trump. Will these meetings really promote the security of Israel or are they really “photo opps” that only a Prime Minister using the powers of his office can arrange just prior to an election? No other sitting Prime Minister has ever gone to such lengths right before an election. It is a cynical move by Netanyahu to deflect the discussion away from his questionable record and place the focus on his alleged strength in Foreign Affairs. So far the Iranians are not out of Syria; the Brazilian Embassy has not been moved to Jerusalem; and President Trump’s “deal of the century” has not been made public.
The jury has been called in. On 9th the verdict of the Israeli public will be rendered. Given the evidence, both real and circumstantial, it is to be hoped that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s autocratic rule will be over!