We were taken aback the other day by a report that because of the extreme factionalism of Israeli politics, no one political or ideological grouping is able to form a governing coalition and the head of the Arab Muslim Ra’am party, MK Mansour Abbas, looms as the kingmaker.
To boot, according to YNET News, the Ra’am Party is a subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a political network whose centers are located in Qatar, Turkey and Gaza, and which has been blackballed throughout the Middle East. YNET News says this represents the Israeli system’s self-destructive propensity.
We agree and, to us, this has all happened because some in Israel are seeking to depose Bibi through the criminal justice system rather than through the electoral system. While he would ordinarily continue to draw enough votes to come out way on top and be in the catbird seat for forming a government, his support is winnowed out by unfavorable fallout from the incessant legal attacks. As it turns out, he comes out on top but not far enough.
Yet, just think of it. On the Netanyahu watch, Israel has become a military, economic, technological, agricultural, industrial colossus. And it has advanced remarkably in its goal of reclaiming its Biblical legacy. No one else on the political scene has gravitas. No one holds promise of being able to continue his successes or to expand upon them. Indeed, his electoral opponents rarely challenge his performance as prime minister.
And it is not that the criminal accusations could stand alone in a different context. Thus, over the years he and/or his wife were targeted over their use of garden furniture, the employment of an electrician, the proceeds from the sale of recycled bottles, payments to a moving contractor, an inflated ice cream bill, the cost of his wife’s coiffure, meals ordered for the official residence from restaurants, and expenses involving the care of his ailing 96-year-old father-in-law.
Even the more serious-sounding most-recent charges seem trivial in context. They involve gifts of cigars and champagne from a friend and for going too far to persuade media moguls to give him more favorable coverage (horrors!).
If anything, don’t these allegations sound in the civil rather than the criminal sphere? And yet, Netanyahu has continued with the largest support in the now frequent Israeli elections, even with these charges lurking in the background.
This not a time for someone new, requiring on-the-job training. As we discuss below, Israel will face enormous challenges from a fundamentally unsympathetic Democratic Biden administration. A Netanyahu-led, right-wing oriented government is critical at this time. A wishy-washy middle of the road/leftist government risks the rolling back of years of progress.