Ben Simon

Oy Voy Voy – What would your Momma say about Judicial Reform?

Oy voy voy lecha!!  I can hear my “ima meumetzet” telling me as if I was there right now back in Israel, wanting to know why it has been so long since I have written a blog on ToI.  Writer’s block, ima? Ani mitzta’er.  Lo hayah li z’man lichtov shum dvar l’af echad!  Mother’s day is almost here.

I’ve always said my Israeli mother knew me better than my own mother ever did.  Of course, I’d never tell my own mother that. But doesn’t every Jewish boy have multiple mommas?  Especially living in Israel.  And I’m sorry Ima, but I never listened either like I should have…but I can’t help but listen NOW, today, in disbelief to what is happening in Israel.

I wonder if those in the government have been listening to their mommas lately.  Israel seems torn and broken.  Misguided by some on the extremes – on both sides, left and right.  Pulled from both sides in parades, speeches, the newspapers, the radio, the TV.

And let us not forget who is watching all of this – everyone.  In particular, the countries immediately surrounding Israel, who would like no less than for the only Jewish state to drown in the Med in its own sorrows and problems, and they are chomping at the bit to replace it from the river to the sea with their Hamas and Hezbollah.

In this current situation, I am concerned who is driving the ship, who is leading the team, who has enough sechel to say, ‘hold up’, stop, sim lev kulam!  We must not allow ourselves to be distracted at the risk of losing everything we have.  Because as we know, unlike MOST countries in the world, Israel must hold close on keeping its borders secure – more secure than most, in keeping its defenses on the alert – more alert that most, and its army, air force, navy, and border guard in a constant state of readiness for war.  Because when it does not, this is when the jaguar attacks, the cat will pounce, and we are back in 1973 all over again.  Except the outcome might be different this time.

I’m not really sure I completely understand the entirety of the issues surrounding the dispute over the judicial reforms.  I am not a legal scholar.  I wish I could say that I did, but here in the U.S. if I don’t watch Channel 13 news on my Apple TV or read ToI every day for at least an hour or more, it’s hard to keep up with it all.  I applaud President Herzog on at least attempting to put himself – unfortunately – in the middle of all this, but – and if I’m getting this correct – this ain’t in his job description!  I always thought the President of Israel was more of a diplomatic type of role, not directly getting in the middle of all things ‘judicial’.  What I am absolutely dismayed at, but should not be surprised by, is the Prime Minister’s – um, lack of good character?

Once upon a time, Bibi Netanyahu was to me a prince among Prime Ministers.  Let me explain, but before I do I think it’s important to note that I have lived on both sides of the pond.  The US and Israel.  I’m aware that some folks think Jews in America should keep out of Israeli politics.  I get it.  But I am not that guy.  Another story for another day.

Bibi spent some time in the US, in fact went to high school nearby me, and had he stayed a little longer may have had my father for a teacher.  He is fluent in English and his accent is so slight if not ‘non-existent’ to most Americans and other English speakers that we can tend to forget he is the Prime Minister of Israel when we see him on TV in America.  It is important to understand how people perceive strong foreign accents.  When foreign leaders are seen on the news here, someone like Bibi is seen in a different light because of his ability to articulate very well in English, as politically incorrect as that may sound.  Let’s just say for Bibi it is a good thing.

Remember, he’s no dummy either – attending and graduating from MIT.  He served in Sayeret Matkal and was wounded in combat, and as we all remember lost his brother Yoni at Entebbe.  In 1996, while I was living in Israel, he became the first Prime Minister to actually be born in the country he led.  He also held a firm position against giving back the Golan, no compromising on Jerusalem or on any pre-conditions to negotiations.  And with all that behind him, with my understanding of the man at that time, I was happy to be living in Israel under Bibi Netanyahu -my Prime Minister.

Then – well, things started falling apart.  Scandals, a new election lost.  Yes, there would be more turns in the PM seat.  There would even be a plan to reduce corruption and politicization in the government run companies.  Funny that last one now in retrospect, right?  He is credited with turning around Israel’s economy as well while Finance Minister.  But for me, Bibi took some wrong turns.  And we are still hearing about the corruption trials of a Prime Minister years after the corruption may have occurred.  Are we still at 3 cases?

Somehow, seeing a man run for office while under charges of corruption and winning that election does not compute to me.  How does this work?  Usually, here in the US if you are facing such charges you don’t normally make it past the primaries.  There needs to be accountability.  But, then again, you voted for the party not the man.  Perhaps we’re not so different, as I always just pull the Democrat lever at the polls and never go outside the box.

The final straw for me was Bibi’s relationship – and Israel’s relationship for that matter – with Orange Man. Donald Trump is not a politician.  He really isn’t that smart.  He’s a lousy businessman.  (How many bankruptcies do you get before they say you’re not a good businessman?)  He is not even a mensch.  He has NO redeeming qualities and treats people horrifically, particularly women.  No, I do not like Orange Man.  And you all turned around and named a square after him.  Yes, I do know he moved the embassy.  I also know Orange Man only thinks about himself, and only does things to promote himself.  Yes, I DO agree that the move was amazing, fantastic, and who would have thought this thing could happen?!?  But why did it have to happen that way?  I’ll call it divine intervention in this case.

The Prime Minister has made his bed some time back.  The question is whether he will continue to lie in it while his country becomes more divided?  When will he wake up and smell the coffee?  Perhaps, as some may have pointed out, he is realizing that forming a coalition to get what you want isn’t all that it’s cut out to be.  And maybe now those bed partners are seeing that promises made to assume power don’t always come to pass.

Even more importantly – now that rockets are raining again in the South, and more incidents happening across the country – perhaps extending the “time out” on judicial overhaul would be the best course for everyone at this point.  This is NOT the time to continue to fight in the Knesset while outside the sky is falling.  This is NOT the time to lose sight of what’s going on around you.  For the safety of the country, for the sake of the people who live in it, and because cooler heads will (hopefully) eventually prevail, I beseech ALL of you – Likud and Labor, Yesh and Meretz, UTJ and Otzma.  In the spirit of Mother’s Day, go home this weekend and listen to your mothers.  Because as we all know, mothers know best even if it’s not your own.

About the Author
Ben is a third-generation Jewish American... or is it 4th? His great-grandparents came with their parents to the USA sometime back at the turn of the century (20th, not that last one). They came from places like Belarus and Romania and Italy (so his Dad says). None were ever in Israel, that he knows of. He spent a few of his 'good' years in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramat Gan, and Arad. He has climbed Masada 22 times (he lost track actually). He's a funny guy (so they say), and wanted to be an Israeli Tour Guide (is it too late?). He works in IT, but it's really not his 'thing'.
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