In marmur, Our Virtual Mishkan

Pray for the Future of Israel!

Those who regard The Jerusalem Post as Holy Writ – and I know such people – may have been startled by the concluding sentences in last week’s column by the paper’s editor: “Israel is in an unprecedented crisis, and this government is not functioning, It is time for it to go home.”

One of the reasons, according to the paper’s editor, is the “unprecedented assault against the police, the prosecutors and the courts by Netanyahu and his fellow Likud members.” Together they are trying to discredit the judiciary in order to invalidate the serious charges against the prime minister who is due to be tried starting next January. With the help of the poodles in his pack – such as the leader of the coalition, the minister of public security and the speaker of the Knesset – Netanyahu hopes that the matter will never get to court. Almost all that he does as prime minister seems to have this as its primary motivation.

In the same issue of the paper, former prime minister Ehud Olmert who has done time for criminal offences and is now a regular columnist describes Netanyahu as “weak and spineless” and “a captive of his delusions.” According to Olmert, “what indicates Bibi’s madness and mental instability is the fact that he is incapable of doing anything honest that can also be seen as honest.” Perhaps it takes one to know one.

One reason why the Netanyahu government has not fallen is because the Blue and White party is in his government. It has turned its leader Benny Gantz into a spineless nobody. He and his colleagues remain in the government presumably because their departure would force yet another election in which the voters are likely to punish them even more than Netanyahu. And power, as we know, is addictive; few people seem to be immune to it.

There is an added fear that the big winner in the next election will be Naftali Bennet whose far-right party Yemina makes Likud look moderate. This may make Netanyahu’s alleged dishonesty preferable to Bennett’s ideology and political skills. Not much to choose between them, is there?

Israel may indeed be, as the editor of the Post suggests, in an unprecedented crisis. But the democratic “remedy” may turn out to be worse. And all this at the time of a pandemic, yet another challenge that the present government has been unable to meet.

Yet its prime minister is riding high on the international arena, which even impresses critical Israelis. The deal with the Emirates and now Bahrain, with perhaps other Arab states to come, is giving Netanyahu added exposure on the world scene and in Israel. He is about to celebrate it next week by flying to Washington – with his wife and sons! – for a signing ceremony that will also try to give the illusion that Trump is “making America great again.”

Praying these High Holy Days will not only be about the sins that we are bidden to confess but also about the very future of the State of Israel.

Jerusalem 12.9.20 (Motzaei Shabbat)                                                               Dow Marmur

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