There is good cause for Americans to be alarmed and highly critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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Last week Republicans seized on a Twitter post by Democratic freshman representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, which even some Democrats condemned as anti-Semitic. Suddenly even Jewish Democrats were accused of anti-Semitism in the GOP’s divisive messaging war for 2020.

In the GOP framing, any criticism of Israel, in particular any criticism of their favorite far-right but corrupt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Corruption Cases Against Netanyahu Explained, is the equivalent of being anti-semitic.

This leap in logic is rejected by none other than the Anti-Defamation League. Response To Common Inaccuracy: Israel Critics are Anti-Semites:

Certainly the sovereign State of Israel and its government can be legitimately criticized just like any other country or government in the world. Criticism of particular Israeli actions or policies – even harsh and strident criticism and advocacy – in and of itself does not constitute anti-Semitism.

There is good cause for Americans to be alarmed and highly critical of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel approaches an election on April 9. Axios reports, Netanyahu boosts racist far-right party with pre-election deal:

After two weeks of efforts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in forming a united ultra right-wing party that will run in the April 9 elections, paving the way for Jewish supremacists from the “Jewish Power” party to make it into the next Knesset.

Why it matters: This is an unprecedented development in Israel’s history and is equivalent to a U.S. president cutting a political deal with David Duke, the former KKK leader. The prime minister and the ruling Likud Party are legitimizing a racist, xenophobic and homophobic fringe party in hopes of bolstering a right-wing bloc after the elections.

“Jewish Power” was formed by the followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the former leader of the Kach party, which was banned from running in Israel’s 1988 elections and designated a terror organization by the Israeli government in 1994. Kach was also blacklisted as a terrorist organization in the U.S., Canada and the EU.

  • Kahane managed to get elected in 1984 and was boycotted by all other parties in the Knesset.

  • He proposed a series of racist laws that would have stripped non-Jews of citizenship, mandated separate beaches for Jews and Arabs, and more. At the time, senior members of the Likud attacked Kahane’s policies and said they were similar to the Nuremberg Laws passed by the Nazis before the Holocaust.

There are direct links from Kahane to Jewish Power today.

  • Baruch Marzel, now a senior member of Jewish Power, was chairman of Kach after Kahane was assassinated.

  • Itamar Ben Gvir, another senior member, was convicted of supporting a terror organization and inciting racism.

  • Michael Ben Ari — a former member of the Knesset from Jewish Power — was denied a visa to the U.S. due to his membership in a terror organization (Kach).

Over the last two weeks, Netanyahu has made tireless efforts to unite Jewish Power and two other radical right-wing, pro-settler parties into one party.

  • Netanyahu made phone calls to rabbis and family members of party members and issued numerous public statements calling on them to unite.

  • He signed a formal agreement with the united ultra right-wing party promising its members two ministerial posts in the next government, as well as two seats in the Security Cabinet.

  • In an unprecedented move, he even promised a spot on Likud’s election list for one of the united party’s members.

What to watch: Netanyahu wants to make sure all three factions pass the electoral threshold so that no right-wing votes go to waste. He also wants to make sure the right-wing bloc in the Knesset gets at least a 61-member majority. Such a majority will allow him to stay in power as he faces a potential corruption indictment against him from a position of greater strength.

Behind the scenes: Inside Likud — the same party that ostracized Kach and Kahane in 1984 — there hasn’t been even a whiff of criticism over a move designed to get the Israeli equivalents of David Duke into the Knesset.

Israel is losing any legitimacy and becoming a pariah state as it descends into darkness under the far-right extremism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the racist extremist coalition he has assembled to try to maintain his power. This is not in the national security interests of the United States, nor in our defense of human rights throughout the world (despite Donald Trump).

The best “defense of Israel” position for the United States is support for the electoral defeat  and removal from power of the corrupt Benjamin Netanyahu and his racist far-right extremist coalition. You will certainly not hear this from Donald Trump and Republicans, who are themselves a far-right white supremacist, white grievance political party.

Axios adds, Netanyahu’s political rivals unite in one party:

Hours before the registration deadline for Israel’s elections, the two main political rivals of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday that they will join forces and merge their parties into a single, centrist party that will run in the April 9 contest.

Why it matters: This is the most dramatic development in the Israeli election campaign so far. According to the last few weeks of polling, a joint list led by former Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, the leader of the “Yesh Atid” party, and former IDF chief of staff Benni Gantz, the head of the new “Resilience for Israel” party, would be the biggest party in the Knesset and could possibly beat Netanyahu.

Details: The new centrist list, named “Blue and White” after the colors of the Israeli flag, will include 3 different parties and 5 heavyweight political actors — 3 of them are retired Generals who previously served as the IDF’s chief of staff:

  • Gantz’s “Resilience for Israel.”

  • Lapid’s “Yesh Atid.”

  • The “Telem” party, led by former minister of Defense and IDF chief of staff Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon, which has right-wing views, especially on the Palestinian issue.

  • Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who mediated between Gantz and Lapid and remains highly popular in Israel, making his entrance into politics very meaningful.

  • The current head of Histadrut, the workers’ union, Avi Nissenkorn, who is expected to bring with him an operational apparatus for election day.

The big picture: According to the deal, there will be a rotation agreement for the title of prime minister. If the new list should win the elections, Gantz will be prime minister for 2.5 years and Lapid for the other 18 months. Lapid will head the foreign ministry and Yaalon will act as minister of defense.

  • Yes, but: The joint list does not have a common political platform — and, on many issues, there are big differences between the factions. However, the main issue they all agree on is the need to replace Netanyahu.

What’s next … The joint list has one big advantage on their side: Next week, Israel’s attorney general is expected to announce that he is indicting Netanyahu in 3 different corruption cases.

  • The combined formation of the united party and the indictments could push voters to drop Netanyahu and move their support to Gantz and Lapid. If 2 to 3 seats (or about 70,000 to 100,000 voters) switch sides, Netanyahu will lose the elections.

The electoral defeat and removal from power of the corrupt Benjamin Netanyahu and the racist extremist coalition he has assembled should be a foreign policy and national security priority of the United States.

Hopefully Israel’s attorney general will also obtain convictions of Benjamin Netanyahu and send him to prison, setting an example for Americans of what to do with the corrupt Donald Trump.




3 COMMENTS

  1. And in Arizona, the compliant legislature previously passed a “me, too” law. Not the sexual harassment, “me, too”, but the idea that the state and all, local governments should examine the private political speech of vendors, and NOT give them business, if the private businesses, essentially criticize the Netanyahu government and its policies. It appears to be blantantly unconstitutional. And I am not ever discussing the merits, if any, of the BDM idea. Just simply the idea, that the legislature could punish private businesses for private opinions, of any kind, is disgusting. What is the next free, speech local governments should examine? Ms. Townsend, what part of unconstitutional do YOU not understand?

  2. I suppose I’m being pretty pedantic about this but it bothers me that many have chosen to equate the phrase “anti-semitic” with “anti-jew”. All the dictionaries I look in include Arabs as Semites. This misuse is common and seems to facilitate equating any criticism of Israeli policies as somehow demonstrating a religious bigotry. It should be possible to criticize Netanyahu and his actions while also being critical of some of the actions of other Semites (i.e. Palestinians).

    • You are correct about the usage of “anti-semitic.” However, this is how the GOP is using the term in order to attack Democrats as part of their 2020 campaign strategy.

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