Looking for that catchy German word, or my thoughts on Trump’s victory

Jasmin Mujanović, one of the folks I follow on Twitter, made a bold statement about Slobodan Milosevic. Below is the first of 16 tweets.  It’s an interesting read.  Worth clicking through.

I look back to 1996 when Bibi beat Peres in an election no one thought would go the Likud’s way.  It was mere months after the Rabin assassination.  Depending on your politics, either Bibi fanned the flames of incitement against Rabin and the Oslo Accords or stood idly by and basked in its murderous heat.  Many were convinced – myself included – that there was no way that decent Israelis would ever allow Netanyahu anywhere near the chair Rabin warmed just seven months before. I remember going to sleep with Peres in the lead and waking up to a different reality.

I would not repeat the same mistake on Tuesday night, November 8.

When folks ask me for my take on the outcome, I reply: I wish there was a German word that expresses my sadness and lack of surprise.

Because after what I saw in Israel in 1996, and again and again and again over the next two decades, I realized that, in democracies, people get the leaders they want and the leaders they deserve.  And it broke my heart.

The Israeli voter wants Bibi.  The Israeli voter deserves Bibi.  And Bibi and his henchmen have delivered!

They have been instrumental in fundamentally changing the way Israeli democracy works.

They have spearheaded a full-throated assault on the Supreme Court.

They have vilified and sought to use the law to harass non-governmental organizations who advocate for civil liberties and human rights in Israel.

They have declared war on the sectors of the Israeli press that dare criticize or hold the government accountable.

They raised the electoral threshold to minimize the representation of undesirable, smaller parties in the Knesset.

The PM’s office would like us all to remember that Israel is a democracy, the only one in the Middle East! However, in practical terms, that does not say very much.  Israel is ranked 101st by Reporters Without Borders in their 2016 Press Freedom Index… right in between Gabon and Uganda!  And two slots up from Kuwait!!  Israel is ranked 32nd on the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International… right in between Cyprus and Lithuania!  The United Arab Emirates, BTW, is ranked 23rd.

Most important, the Israeli voter wants the corrosive and illegal Occupation to continue – and Bibi continues to deliver it to them.

Without shame, and despite his claims of wanting peace, Bibi takes credit for dismantling the peace process with the Palestinians.

It took Netanyahu and his cronies about 10 years to chip away at the cornerstones of Israeli democracy… and ten years more (with some breaks) to thoroughly compromise the foundations.

Oh, and let us also not forget this last minute plea / naked appeal to racial animus from the 2015 election:

Which is all to say that, I believe, Trump is embarking on a similar course.

He has vilified Mexicans and Muslims.  Antisemites and racists have flocked to his rallies and his side.

He has pledged to change libel laws so that he can avenge himself on journalists who criticize him too much.

With the stroke of a pen, he intends to undo America’s commitment to fighting climate change and scuttle the Iran deal which many in the Israeli military and intelligence community support.

He wants to reinstitute torture as a tool of American intelligence gathering.

Though pledging to “drain the swamp” in Washington, his court jesters (Chris Christie who will be criminally implicated in the Bridgegate scandal, Rudy Guiliani who wants to take the racist and unconstitutional policy of stop-and-frisk nationally and Newt Gingrich who is just repugnant) will bring their own tanker truck of even dirtier swamp water.

(Oh, and let’s not forget the fifteen women who have come forward to claim that he sexually assaulted them – a criminal offense.)

But the biggest concern is that there is no branch of the American government to tell him NO.   The House and Senate are solidly GOP.  The Supreme Court will be stacked shortly GOP-ward.

I guess this is what a majority of American voters want.  (I am aware that as of now, Hillary won the popular vote but not the electoral college.  I suspect that statistic will change in the coming days.)

I have heard from Trump supporters that NOT ALL Trump voters are racists, antisemites or xenophobes – and that it’s not fair to fit them all with the same Klan hood.  Many are staunch supporters of the GOP, patriots, lovers of Israel who sincerely believe in conservative policies or that Trump is better for Israel. Perhaps they even held their noses and voted Trump.  Many just hated Hillary more.  Fair enough.  But you did vote for this guy.  You should own it.  He’s your boy.  The mess he might make is yours too.

I hope I am wrong.  But I have seen how this goes in one democracy.

I am sad but not surprised.


When a poor man eats a chicken, either he or the chicken is sick – or “Only Sharansky can”

When a poor man eats a chicken, there can be only one reason…

When Bibi fobs off redirects an issue to the head of the Jewish Agency and asks him to figure something out, there could be three reasons:

  1. This issue is so important to Bibi that he absolutely must have someone else resolve it.
  2. This issue of gender equality and religion commands the most urgent attention from government that it cannot be addressed by government.
  3. The solution ultimately devised by the Jewish Agency will have so much teeth, sharks will snicker amongst themselves.

Considering the rudderlessness of the Jewish Agency and its muddled mission of “identity building”, Bibi picked the perfect desk for what he perceives to be a pile of mess known as Women of the Wall, a group of women who have the chutzpah to insist on practicing Judaism at Judaism’s holiest site.

If I forget thee, O Kotel, let my right foot wither...

If I forget thee, O Kotel, let my right foot wither…

What Sharansky can do (that Bibi cannot) is look earnest as he considers the sides on this issue, tisk-tisking as well-meaning mostly North-American women demand to be equal participants in their own religion while coalition-connected Haredi rabbis form a penalty kick wall to defend the Kotel from feminist defilement.

Sharansky can continue to look perturbed as nothing is ultimately done (or perhaps, here’s a great idea, would y’all like to pray at Robinson’s Arch?)  and women continue to be arrested for the crime of bringing a tallit to the Kotel as they were last Friday.


He has an election to win and with support slipping away from Likud to the bloc of right-wing-religious nationalists (spearheaded by the homophobic Naftali Bennett of the rebooted “HaBayit HeYehudi” party) on his (hard-)right, Bibi looks resolute in protecting the sanctity of the Kotel (and his religious-nationalist base) while addressing an issue that North American Jews seem to care about in direct proportion to the number of votes these progressive North American Jews will be casting in January’s election – a number unsurprisingly too small to quantify.  …..AAAAAAALLLL!!!

Netanyahu’s parrot – or WTP?!

I have to admit that Bibi can do it.

He is comfortable in front of the camera.  His Hebrew is flawless as is his English.

Though he could not divert from message enough to wish Israel a happy birthday without touting Likud achievements and pledging more of the same in the coming year, it was nice to hear that Bibi likes a good mangal.  But I quibble… Bibi delivered a lovely message to the People of Israel.

But then, in the final moments, Bibi could not leave well enough alone.  He had to close with a weak Hinei Mah Tov segue that faded out and faded in to a zip-cuffed singing cat and a warbling parrot too drunk to realize that the blender next to him was not another parrot.  Had Bibi not lamely segued, I would have thought that the segment was added on by #Anonymous or a BDS-supporting hacker hell-bent on embarrassing the Prime Minister.   It seems someone in the PMO thought this would be a fabulous way to end a clip recorded by Israel’s Head of State for the Israeli people to formally mark Israel’s birthday.

Perhaps you think I exaggerate.  Skip ahead to 1:04 …

Happy Birthday, Israel!  Happy Parrot, Bibi!

I cannot wait to see which CGI creatures close the Prime Minister’s clip next year … perhaps a hogtied Kipi ben Kipod and a libidinous hyrax from the Jordan Valley will sing Yachad …  ?

Give it some thought…