Wednesday, October 30, 2019


 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column


I know that I sound like a broken record. OK, none of you are old enough to know what that sounds like. How about a scratched CD, one that plays the same phrase over and over and over: Bibi, Gantz, Lieberman, Lapid: get your acts together. It is a matter of life and death.

I have sometimes sounded smug when I criticize the USA, my former home, for descending into madness. On the one hand you have the spitting and cursing leftist “resistance” to Trump, who find an angle to criticize everything that he does, accuse him of every imaginable crime, boo him at baseball games, and would certainly murder him if they could. On the other side are his partisans, to whom every action he takes, no matter how ill-considered, is portrayed as a stroke of genius. Normal mortals may not be able to see it, but there is a Plan.

That’s just the politics. Culturally, people are obsessed with race and gender in ways that defy reason, there is a strong current to throw away the idea of free speech, and – yes – they are beating up and shooting Jews there, too.

Israel, I used to suggest, is different. We aren’t crazy. We are a small country that makes the best of its opportunities, with competent leaders. We can’t afford an army like the US has, but ours is still the best in the region, because Jews are smart and know how to innovate. Aren’t we the “startup nation?” Haven’t we found a way to be both a Jewish state, a refuge for persecuted Jews the world over, while still maintaining halfway decent relations with the 20% of our population that are Arabs? Aren’t we, despite all the challenges, a democratic state?

Well, boker tov [good morning] Eliyahu as they like to say here to someone who finally understands the obvious. We are just as crazy as America. Our political and social fabric is tearing here just as badly as it is over there, and we seem to be just as clueless about how to mend it.

The behavior of Bibi, Gantz, Lieberman, and Lapid, whose almost unbelievable selfishness, egotism, and stubbornness has prevented the establishment of a government after two elections, and which threatens to produce a third (and probably equally inconclusive) one is deplorable – and intolerable. Israel is on the verge of war with Iran and its proxies, a multi-front, complicated war with an intelligent and creative enemy, one which will certainly exact a high price in blood from us. We are, it seems, unprepared, and it will take a supreme effort and expense to get prepared in time. And yet, the squabbling continues! How can they not understand this?

To the Left, it is all about Bibi’s alleged criminal activities and the Right’s “attack on democracy,” which means an attack on those unelected elements that lean Left and have so much influence, including foreign-funded lobbyists. But Bibi has been subjected to a campaign of fishing expeditions and illegal leaks to the media about them almost since he took office; something that played a large role in bringing about the current stalemate.

Today, Minister of Justice Amir Ohana referred to the “symbiosis” between the police investigators, the prosecution, and the media in connection with the leaks, which have never been investigated. Ohana is a Netanyahu appointee, but he’s quite right. Whether or not Bibi turns out to be a witch, he has been and continues to be the subject of a witch hunt (an interesting analysis of the charges against him is here).

On the other hand, Bibi has used more force to crush opposition to him in his party than he has to stop Hamas from setting wildfires in the area adjacent to our border. I can’t count all the ministerial portfolios that he is holding at once. Once perhaps the most competent Prime Minister in Israel’s history, his obsession with his legal problems and his inability to delegate responsibility seems to have neutralized him.

Yesterday’s big news was that a couple of Netanyahu’s aides allegedly paid a Bratslaver sound truck, one of those that drives around playing joyous music, stopping from time to time to allow the occupants to come out and dance in the street, to park in front of the house of Shlomo Filber, a State’s Witnesses in one of Bibi’s criminal cases. Instead of joyous music, they broadcast accusations that Filber was a liar. The police, investigating the incident, are alleged to have improperly taken the telephones of the perpetrators, and downloaded their content. The USA has nothing on us for craziness.

Social problems are multiplying. Young people still can’t afford apartments. The Haredi Rabbinut continues to embitter the lives of thousands of Israelis. The healthcare system is falling apart from a shortage of doctors, nurses, and money. Arab citizens of Israel elect politicians to the Knesset who oppose the existence of a Jewish state. Nothing is done to remove the infiltrators from South Tel Aviv. Nothing is done to prepare for the inevitable powerful earthquake. As happens in third world countries, money flows into the pockets of the elite, while public needs receive less and less attention.

I’d call for a military coup if the worthless opposition party weren’t already heavily laden with former Chiefs of Staff. Or a revolution, if I didn’t know that historically revolutions tend to end up with the most extreme, brutal factions in charge.

Really, all we need is a competent government, made up of people who put the needs of the state and its people first. Is that too much to ask?







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