Alan P. Gross
Humble with a good sense of humor.

You’re either in control or you’re out of control.

TOI Blog #4 – Mr. Netanyahu . . . You are either in control or you are out of control.

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

I have been following your illustrious career for the better part of 40 years. There have been multiple highlights of leadership, diplomacy, courage and, consistent intellectual capacity throughout the years. In particular, you seemed to really be in your element when you served Israel as Finance Minister. You seemed to really “get it” – that Israel was indeed the world’s “Start Up Nation”. And over time you proved to be an incredibly resilient Prime Minister, holding that office multiple times, including presently. What you felt compelled to do in order to win, hold onto and ultimately win again and again were clear world lessons in masterful and strategic politicking. You are indeed to be commended for your ability to sway the seemingly unswayable, to assemble unusual coalitions, to beat out your opponents by whatever means necessary – even at the slimmest margins – to retain or regain the prime ministership. What an incredible career.

I remember when at least some people in the US used to call you “Benny”, the bright, tough and personable “de facto Israel Ambassador to the United Nations“. I remember you as brave, insightful, quick-witted, strategic and so on. My question to you, Mr. Prime Minister, is when did all of that change? You went from being insightful to being inciteful. The service to country you took oaths to provide seems to have transformed into the way bulls service cows. Right now, and from my vantage point as an immigrant, Israel is getting screwed.

What is happening in Israel today? Does the Netanyahu coalition signal the rise of fascism?  Fascism is a political ideology that emphasizes the importance of the nation above individual rights and freedoms. The Netanyahu coalition is not comprised of fascists because its key individuals stress the importance of themselves above the nation and above individual rights and freedom. So while some members of the Netanyahu coalition are fascists, there appears to be no centralized focus on fascism.

Fascism is characterized by authoritarianism, nationalism, and often racism. In this current Netanyahu coalition, everyone is an authoritarian and some or many are racists. It is the “authoritarian thing” that makes managing the coalition difficult if not impossible for Mr Netanyahu. This spells problems for coalition longevity.

Fascists believe in a strong central government, led by a single leader who has complete control over all aspects of society. But really, who knows what principal coalition members actually believe in, other than to impose chaos on civil society and try to change the evolving idea of rule of law? In this instance, leadership by a single leader seems to be absent and no one has complete control of anything. Mr. Netanyahu has claimed on several occasions that he is in control of the coalition and that making policy decisions is up to him.

They (fascists) often use violence and intimidation to maintain their power and suppress any opposition. The rise of fascism in Europe during the 20th century led to devastating consequences, including World War II and the Holocaust. Today, it is important to recognize the dangers of fascism and work towards promoting democracy, equality, and human rights for all. The Netanyahu coalition is taking on these characteristics – from attempting to suppress demonstrators, to calling for ethnic cleansing in Hawara. It is THIS set of characteristics being taken on by the Netanyahu coalition that makes fascism a more realistic problem for Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu, if what you say is true about you making the decisions, then you need to stand up and be heard over those members of your government who think otherwise. So which is it Mr. Netanyahu . . . Are you in control or are you out of control?

About the Author
Throughout more than 40 years working globally as a management and economic development consultant, I only got into trouble in one country. In 2009, I was taken hostage by the government of Cuba and wrongly accused of working for American and Israeli intelligence services. In reality, I was working on a humanitarian project to improve wireless access for small communities across Cuba. Released on the first day of Chanukah in December 2014, I openly praise the roles my wife and lawyer played, as well as the roles of social-and- Jewish-activism.