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Humans

Israel’s Bibi-mania problem

March 23rd, 2018
in:Humans
by:Ithamar Handelman Smith, Josef Reich
located in:Israel
tags:Benjamin Netanyahu, corruption

The corruption allegations now standing against Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, are yet another reminder of Israel’s misaligned political sphere.

The corruption allegations now standing against Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, are yet another reminder of Israel’s misaligned political sphere. In a more – let’s say – proper western Democracy, like Germany, France or the likes, Netanyahu would have been under tremendous pressure by his government to resign by now. But it’s the reaction to the allegation embodied by a vast part of the Israeli public that that is irritating. So what? So Bibi received a fistful of cigars and a few bottles of champagne, (worth 1 million new Shekels, approximately $300,000 USD) from a “friend”. So what? What are 300,000 dollars these days? Nothing; peanuts.

In a state where scheming, manipulating and contriving the other for your own benefit is much too often the norm (not to mention the occupation, land grab and the general constant abuse of the rights of some four million Palestinians), what is the problem with Bibi smoking some nice cigars and drinking some champagne? All he did was help his “friend”, the Billionaire media mogul Arnon Milchan, with his American visa and Israeli tax returns? So what? For at least half of the average Israeli voters, Bibi is just “our man”: great, smart and strong. The more legal complications he is entangled with, and criticism from the free press he receives, the more his constituency appreciates him. 1996, one year after the murder of Israeli peacemaker and Prime Minister at the time, Itzchak Rabin, Netanyahu had his first election victory as the ‘rising comet’ of the political horizon; an ingenious and skillful forerunner of today’s demagoguery of the post-millenium nationalist regression. Then and now, his followers went mad for him, celebrating their Bibi-mania, obviously willing to accept him as their tyrant, if he would become one.

Is Benjamin Netanyahu here to stay for many years to come, and despite all the allegations against him? Will he continue to serve as the Israeli Prime Minister until the end of time? King Bibi of Israel? A depressive era produces depressing fantasies.

Those in favour of Netanyahu are not blind to his potentially corrupt nature (it is still not proven in court and maybe it never will be, since many fear that Israel’s Attorney-General, Avichai Mandelblit, might shy away from putting Bibi on trial). A substantial factor of his popularity could be attributed to his representation of a certain ‘type’ of Israeli ideology and characteristics: Bibi is to his supporters but a mirror of their own reflection. He is at once an embodiment of the ‘smart-ass’ archetype; the one who cuts corners; the one who gets better deals; the one who benefits himself by treading on others. He is undoubtedly xenophobic, nationalist and anti-democratic inciter; hedonistic and prone to corruption. This is precisely why Benjamin Netanyahu has been the longest serving Prime Minister in the history of the Israeli state, he is the essence of the less positive side of contemporary Israeliness. Netanyahu and his far-right government – the most extreme in Israeli history – are simply the symptom of a much deeper sickness that has taken over Israeli society.

Israel society proudly loves to emphasize being “the only democracy in the Middle East.” And yes, Bibi and his comrades are right when they point to the Israeli Arabs who enjoy the normal democratic rights that are by far not taken for granted in the rest of the Arab world. While this is true, it cannot distract from Netanyahu and his government’s Trump-like fake-news attacks on the free press, the independence of the justice system and the police-force. All of which are orchestrated in order to push the system in an authoritarian and repressive direction. As long as the occupation lingers on, the Palestinians “on the other side” – who suffer from the Israeli military rule – continue to be an inextricable, underprivileged and suppressed part of the Israeli society. Let alone those more than 30,000 refugees from the Eritrean dictatorship and the ongoing genocidal cleansing in Darfur – most of whom went through horror and terror to reach Israel, were never acknowledged as asylum-seekers, and are currently conditioned to appalling treatment in Israel – which makes Israel break international law. Many refugees in the country are currently facing threats of expulsion, after integration processes and becoming an active part of Israeli society on every account. With this unethical behavior, Israeli right-wingers are wholeheartedly betraying the history of the Jewish people as refugees; as the historically marginalized and persecuted; ignoring what Theodor Herzl, the utopian founder of the Zionist vision wrote: “Build your state thus so the stranger who is among you is satisfied.”

It seems that until recently, Israel at least invested in ‘pretending’ to be like the other western liberal democracies it wished to be considered as. Yet today, the right-wing establishment is beginning to reveal its true colors by distancing itself from its ties with such countries, strengthening its ties with much more sinister governments. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge a man by his friends. In recent years, Israel has been in close cooperation with states like Hungary and Poland, both ruled by far right, anti-European parties where civil rights are in constant decline. Both, by the way, have a very forgiving attitude towards good old anti-Semitism. Just look at the Hungarian anti-semitic campaign against the Jewish business magnate and philanthropist George Soros, who is also deeply resented by Netanyahu, leading to the shameful incident last summer. Netanyahu’s son Yair posted a Jew-hating caricature of Soros – It was the copy of a meme Yair found on a white supremacist website and was consequently highly appraised by David Duke, the former so-called High Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Neo-Nazi platform The Stormer. As a result of this, Bibi’s wayward son had to remove his post due to the national scandal and an immediate rebuke by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.

Somehow, upon sharing a common enemy — namely the demonized Muslim world and the refugees they keep out of their borders — these xenophobic Eastern-European nations have become Israel’s new best friends. Just last week, Netanyahu met with Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban's security policy and foreign policy advisor, Mr. Jozsef Czukor. The meeting was held in continuation of Netanyahu’s participation in the Visegrad group summit on 19 July 2017 in Budapest, where he offered to host the next summit in Israel. In the meeting Netanyahu was reportedly pushing to host the next Visegrad group (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) meeting in Jerusalem. If he succeeds, it will stand for an unprecedented alliance between Israel and what are considered the most right-wing and xenophobic countries on the European continent at the moment. The fact that such governments are becoming Israel’s closest allies is not only morally alarming; it is frightening as the hope for any future negotiation with the Palestinians dwindles. The problem was well put by Tamar Zandberg, leader of the left-wing party Meretz: “If the summit will take place in Israel, Netanyahu won’t be able to say I didn’t know. The dangerous Tango dancing of the Likud party with the worst of anti-Semites is a stain on the state of Israel.”

The irony of it all in embedded in Netanyahu’s condemning reaction to the scandalous new law in Poland, which criminalizes and penalizes researchers, journalists or historians accusing Poles of operation with the Nazi-occupiers. Did he suddenly realize that if you become a devil and dance with the devils, you cannot help to also get f….d by the devils?

Article written by:
Ithamar Handelman Smith
Author
Josef Reich
Founder, Social Entrepreneur, Author
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In a more – let’s say – proper western Democracy, like Germany, France or the likes, Netanyahu would have been under tremendous pressure by his government to resign by now.
Embed from Getty Images
In a state where scheming, manipulating and contriving the other for your own benefit is much too often the norm.
Embed from Getty Images
Hundreds of African asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea, hold placards showing migrants who they say were killed after being deported to their country, during a protest against Israel's deportation policy in front of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem on January 26, 2017.
Embed from Getty Images
V4 Presidency leader, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (C) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2ndL) attend a press conference with V4 - Visegrads countries prime ministers, Bohuslav Sobotka (L) of Czech Republic, Beata Szydlo (R) of Poland and Robert Fico of Slovakia in the main hall of Pesti Vigado Cultural Center in Budapest, Hungary, on July 19, 2017. As part of a landmark Hungary visit, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu meets leaders of the so-called Visegrad group, whose nationalists stances have increasingly placed them at odds with the rest of the EU.
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Is Benjamin Netanyahu here to stay for many years to come, and despite all the allegations against him?

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