Larry Gellman

The Trumpenyahu Syndrome has Become a Plague

Years ago it became clear that the tactics, pathologies, personalities, and political stories of the elected emperors of Israel and the United States were frighteningly similar in so many ways.

And as time has gone on, it has just gotten creepier and scarier than ever as facts and decisions have progressed in a way that should frighten all decent people.

As of this moment, each of these self-proclaimed great leaders is being plagued by the imminent threats of indictment or impeachment for obvious criminal activity and abuse of power.

And, in spite of it all, each continues to blame the news media and their political enemies for all their problems and, in the face of overwhelming evidence, denies any wrong doing at all.

And, most frightening of all is that each has now doubled down on trying to save their power and win reelection by cozying up to the most violent and racist elements in their respective countries as each desperately tries to position himself to win reelection.

For Trump, his pandering to racists and White Supremacists goes back for years as he has repeatedly manufactured stories about the threats that Muslims and immigrants pose to the safety of Americans while giving his base a complete pass.

This despite a recent Anti-Defamation League report showing that almost every  extremist murder in our country last year was committed by a Right wing racist or government-hating conspiracy theorist.

But the most frightening new development was Netanyahu’s announcement last week that he will be running for a fifth term with the racist murderers who have kept the Kahane movement alive and now are positioned to play a significant role in the next government.

This decision prompted a predictable response of outrage from Jewish groups like J Street, the American Jewish Committee, the ADL and the Reform movement.  But it was so far over the top that even AIPAC–a group which my Israelist friends love because they claim it always supports the position of the sitting Israeli government--criticized Netanyahu for sucking up to “racist and reprehensible” groups.

Respected Israeli journalists who have been critical of Trump and Netanyahu pull out all the stops in expressing their lack of respect for Bibi after his move to bring Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power)–the Kahanist party that was outlawed in Israel for many years–into his fold.

“If this is what it takes for Netanyahu to win the election and to use his victory to escape the long arm of the law, he won’t hesitate to open the gates of hell for the evil and despicable to march through, enter the Israeli bloodstream and contaminate it for evermore,” wrote Chemi Shalev of Haaretz.

My friend Bradley Burston was just as critical.  “Netanyahu is looking to a viciously supremacist party called Jewish Power to put his re-election campaign over the top,” he wrote.  “I thought Bibi was amoral. He’s not. He’s evil. Thanks to him, Kahane lives.”

Like Trump, Bibi is predictable in turning sincere and legitimate criticism on its head and accusing those who point out real facts about what he says and does as Muslim-loving enemies of the people. .

As with Republicans here in the U.S. and their obsessive and vicious targeting of three Muslim and/or immigrant Congresswomen as the enemies of Jews and America, Netanyahu today lashed out at his critics saying they were in cahoots with Muslims and the far Left.

“What hypocrisy and double standards by the left,” the premier wrote in a post on his official Facebook page. “They denounce a bloc on the right with right-wing parties while the left has acted to put extreme Islamists into the Knesset in order to create a bloc that would overtake the right,” he wrote.

At the end of the day, these developments here and in Israel are the latest clear cut proof that American and Israeli Jews have less and less in common every day.

In the U.S., the vast majority of Jews identify as Democrats and find Trump and his racist and Republican base to be repulsive.  In Israel, the vast majority of Jews believe that Trump is the best president ever.

There is so little support for the pluralist and Jewish values left among most of them that Tzipi Livni–the woman who just a decade ago got more votes for prime minister than Netanyahu–tearfully announced that she was dropping out of politics altogether because she couldn’t get enough votes for her party to get a single seat in Knesset.

It is time for Jews here and in Israel to stop obsessing over anti-Semitism and Muslim terrorism which are real but do not pose an existential threat to us.

The only existential threats to Israel and the Jewish community are internal and are getting much, much worse. And most American Jews are living in denial.

About the Author
Larry Gellman is a retired Managing Director--Wealth Management at a private worldwide investment firm. He has studied and lectured on Jewish wisdom and ethics in Israel and the U.S. . He has spent 40 years as a major Jewish philanthropist and a current National Board Member of organizations including J Street, Americans for Peace Now, and CLAL and a past chairman and former board member of Israel Bonds, Jewish Federations, AIPAC and Jewish Day Schools in Tucson and Milwaukee. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN MY WRITINGS ARE MINE AND MINE ALONE. IDO NOT SPEAK ON BEHALF OF ANY OF THE ORGANIZATIONS WHERE I SERVE AS A BOARD MEMBER OR VOLUNTEER.