That is a tough call, for sure, Mr. Friedman. Both of these "men" are monetarily greedy, and ego-power-hungry beyond belief. Both of these guys care far more about their own personal enrichment than they do about being a true Public Servant, leading a Nation.
So ... which one is worse ?? It reminds me of the old "Certs" TV breath-mint advertisement, asking "is it a breath mint, or a candy mint ?" And, the answer (in both cases) is;
"Stop, you're both right !" Both of these "World Leaders" are the lowest form of street corner bullies, and creeps. 50 Billion annual dollars in Arms and Munitions is "not enough" for Netanyahu. Locking up migrant children in beyond squalid jail conditions is just fine for Trump.
It would be beyond wonderful to see both of these cruel and greedy bozos to be voted out, and kicked out, of Office. And, the sooner, the better.
And not only indicted, but convicted of their crimes.
Trump is clearly worse. I say this, because I think we forget a large part of why Trump is so bad. If you equate him with Bibi you miss a lot.
Bibi has his problems. But, I would argue, many of his problems have emerged from being in power too long and losing touch.
He does stoke xenophobia in a way that is problematic, and his handling of Palestinian issues is not great. Furthermore, he is corrupt. Otherwise, however, he is a pretty good and deft politician who has strengthened Israel's standing on the world stage, improved Israel's economy, and improved its national security.
Furthermore, Netanyahu's Palestinian policies, while not great, are in line with the past--they are not a shocking turn backwards. Many of Trump's policies represent a large step backwards in progress.
You say they are both only interested in enriching themselves. Netanyahu has a fortune of 14 mil--far less than Joe Biden. If he is trying to enrich himself, he isn't great at it.
Trump meanwhile has sexually assaulted many women, regularly attacks the press, trusts Putin over US intelligence, lies beyond belief, launches attacks on the judiciary, has run many scams (see Trump U), lies about his wealth, denies climate change, threatens to lock-up political opponents, courts Neo-Nazis, attacks war heroes (including dead ones), started birtherism, wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico (Israel's wall at least was built in response to bombings), etc.
Trump is worse.
@W.Wolfe With possible jail sentences as the Amen.
Tom has captured our predicament extraordinarily precisely and concisely. Would that my fellow countrymen and co-religionists could understand it as precisely and concisely
(sigh . . .).
As we are about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon - it's clear there is only one viable solution. Figure a way to inhabit outer space.
The familiar ring I heard: "But the American far right wing has a third fantasy in mind: controlling the country as a minority party without giving equal rights to all who live here. The main barrier to this vision is the U.S.'s world-class judicial system, free press and civil society. So the right wing has to emasculate them." And they have progressed too far with this agenda because of Trump and McConnell.
Robert Reich recently noted it is not the far-right it is the Oligarchs.
@DJY Please read Jane Mayer in a recent issue of the New Yorker. According to her report, the Mercers--the main right wing supporters of Trump--have a new parlour game based on Monopoly in how to take over the U.S. government (they actually did this). Their goal is a Government that is "small, ineffectual, and out of the way". That is also what A.O.C. is hitting Nancy Pelosi about, i.e. getting away with it. What can she do without help in the Senate? 1. Pass spending bills with strings attached, such as holding McConnell to his word on an up or down vote on just DACA. The excuse that Trump won't sign it is irrelevant, plus his racism and criminality should make him irrelevant on just about everything. 2. Target all 22 GOP Senators in the next election. Red States are being hit the hardest by Trump policies, and surely even those who voted for Trump because of his immorality must be getting tired of it by now.
A bigger threat to democracy? This one's easy -- Bibi. Because he leads Trump around by the nose. Bibi knows that Trump voters hate brown-skinned people, especially those with Middle Eastern ancestry, and they'll support any outrageous demand Bibi makes -- up to and including getting this country into a disastrous war with Iran.
Think Iraq, only exponentially worse. Thousands of our young service men and women will die needlessly, tens of thousands of Iranian civilians will die needlessly, and in the end, Iran will have nuclear weapons anyway. This is the future Trump voters and Bibi are giving us.
Oh -- and there is an added benefit to Bibi hoodwinking Trump into this disastrous war -- he is giving Trump the perfect excuse to declare a "national emergency" and call off elections before November 2020. And Trump voters will be deliriously happy, as they will have "their leader" rule our nation indefinitely.
Think it won't happen here? We now have internment camps on our soil, warehousing Hispanic infants and children indefinitely, with next to no public outcry. Trump understands he can round anyone up he wants now, and put them in a camp, and the sixty percent of us who are ostensibly against his rule will sit silent.
So Bibi is the bigger threat to democracy - because with the help of his ignorant lackey Trump, he is able to destroy his country's democracy and ours too.
@DB Cooper Both 'leaders' have their Other, currently either Palestinian or Hispanic, on whom they try out their vile plans to see how the majorities will react, or even whether they will. As Martin Neimoller said after WW II: "First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, and I did not speak out..." Maybe the most important political question of our time is simple: "Am I my brother's keeper?" Today, we are silent at our peril.
Both of them are taking their policy to some kind of friendship relation based on money and cheat !
Neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Donald Trump are a threat to ' his democracy' because neither live in a democracy.
America is and always has been a very peculiar kind of republic. A divided limited different power constitutional republic of united states where the people are the ultimate sovereign over their elected and selected hired help.
The Founding Fathers so feared democracy that the only people who they allowed to vote were white men who owned property including black Africans and brown Native lands and natural resources. And they could only directly vote for and elect their representative in the House.
A constitutional amendment gave people the right to vote for Senators. But every state from a half million people in Wyoming to 39.5 million Californians has the same number of Senators. While the size of the House is capped to the disadvantage of more populous states.
Presidents of the United States are elected by the Electoral College. And individual votes cast in one state don't matter nor count in any other state.
Federal judges are nominated by the Electoral College President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
How did the 6 million Christian Muslim Arab Palestinian Israelis living under the dominion of 6.1 million Zionist Israeli Jews by occupation, blockade/siege. exile and 2nd class citizenship vote in the last Israeli election?
You analysis is at least partially correct. Our system flirted with truer democracy for a while and started to win. Founding fathers fear of democracy and evolution to universal suffrage was hard. But a government elected at intervals that seem too long with piddling oversight. A government that has dense incomprehensible legal and legislative agendas, and making the elections a kind of blood sport in collusion with a profit hungry media, makes it a rather opaque to the common man. Once money gets to influence the election, our democracy fades into an Oligarchy as Robert Reich notes. We don't know who actually controls things but Trump's victory suggests Reich's Oligarchs. It is a return to Medieval monarchy and church control with different carrots and sticks.
Israel has not dealt with the US and South African problems of apartheid but has some unique ones as well, still, I admire those who fight for democracy.
Best not to jumble things up, when you ask "How did the 6 million Christian Muslim Arab Palestinian Israelis living under the dominion of 6.1 million Zionist Israeli Jews by occupation, blockade/siege. exile and 2nd class citizenship vote in the last Israeli election?"
In fact, Israeli Christians, Muslims, Druze, Bahai, and every other religious minority in Israeli enjoy the right to vote, and do so. There are political parties specifically catering to Israeli Arabs, and there are other parties with a number of Israeli Arabs amongst their elected representatives in the Knesset.
On the other hand, Palestinians are not citizens and do not vote; instead their political solution would be found in a two-state solution, if and when both sides are finally able to broker a compromise and a deal.
Not to suggest that everything is perfect in Israel, or in the USA for that matter, or any other country that I am aware of. But it is always helpful to discuss actual facts and not made-up ones.
Since the State of Israel had it's first election, no political party is willing to even discuss having the Arab parties join in a coalition.
Imagine if 20% of the American population lived in states that constantly voted for a third party, but neither of the other two parties would work with it and so every election went to the House for final determination of the President. The two dominant parties would switch back and forth as their hold on the House changed, but 20% of Americans would have no significant role.
All the points raised by Ehud could be raised by whom ever
runs against Trump. They should do this instead of promising
nonsense that would cost taxpayers a fortune. Maybe Tom
Steyer will see the light.
The main issue that Friedman missed is whether the growing but minority ultra-Orthodox community will do its military service or continue to get exempted. The vast majority of the country wants the ultra-Orthodox to serve, and Avigdor Lieberman's faction that once sat in the Likud majority will not join a government that will not require ultra-Orthodox military service. He's the kingmaker here, and it is because Israel is largely secular and nationalistic, not ultra-Orthodox and theocratic.
Once Hamasistan (oops, Gaza) and the West Bank work out their problems and there is one gun representing Palestine, Israel will have an actual negotiating partner. But not until then.
While we cannot directly support political parties in Israel, there are a number of organizations that are on the ground supporting rights for all that we can help to fund. Do not just sit back and worry about the results of the election and its aftermath. Do something.
Bibi is a bigger threat to his democracy than Trump is to ours. Israel's parliamentary democracy centralizes legislative and executive power under a single coalition; if Bibi wins, only Israel's courts stand in his way. In our system, if Democrats control at least one house, we can achieve a partial stalemate against Trump's destruction. And eventually, we will be rid of him.
Because Israel has a parliamentary system, instead of a two party system, there are a lot more parties that Netanyahu has to corrupt in order for him to be able to gut the country's courts or have laws passed that shield him from prosecution. Plus, in Israel, no-confidence votes which may result in new elections may be called at any time. In contrast, here Trump only has had to corrupt one party in order to stack the Courts. And the only way to get rid of Trump prior to the end of his term is through impeachment. So the answer to your question is a resounding Trump.
Bibi wins this round, hands down, especially given the geopolitical ramifications of the Middle East.
To say nothing of the impending Third World War, with Iran playing the role of ‘Austria-Hungary’ in this new conflict.
I find it odd that Mr. Friedman cites threat to Israel's judiciary as one of the dangers posed by Mr. Netanyahu. I know nothing about Israel's judiciary, but my experience of litigating here in the US taught me that the judiciary needs to be controlled and held to account -- something we do not, and cannot, do (as I learned by suing a bunch of federal judges for fraud, judges gave themselves a right to act from the bench "maliciously and corruptly" (in Pierson v. Ray)
Accordingly, here in this country at least, federal judges simply replace parties' argument with the bogus argument of judges' own concoction so as to decide cases the way they want to, not the way they have to. In the US, due process does not exist -- certainly not in the judicial process.
Which tells me that any and all efforts to put limits on what judges can do is a very worthwhile pursuit.
To its everlasting shame, our press refuses to talk about judicial fraud rampant in US federal courts. Apparently, Israelis have the courage to look into their judges' decision-making process, and try and stop the runaway abuses caused by uncontrolled and uncontrollable judges.
Bravo to them -- the much-maligned Mr. Netanyahu and Ms. Shaked including.
@Lev Tsitrin: The U.S. constitution details the existence and powers of our judicial system. You or I may be unhappy about many decisions of our state or federal courts, but at least judges have state and/or federal constitutions to look to. In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" accommodations were OK, but in 1954, the Supreme Court saw the error and overturned it in Brown v. Board of Education. But Israel doesn't have a constitution, and is not likely to adopt one, and the Knesset has the power to limit the authority of the Supreme Court, even for blatantly political reasons. While there are many U.S. Supreme Court decisions I disagree with, I am glad that we have a Supreme Court whose justices are sworn to uphold the Constitution, and I'd take that any day over having no constitution at all, like Israel.
I am afraid we are talking apples and oranges here. What's important to me is absence of "due process" in the "judicial process."
So I am talking about "process," and am unhappy that it does not exist.
You seem to be talking about unhappiness with the outcomes. Those are two very different things.
My point is, that judging must be done according to parties' argument -- not according to judges' argument, as is done now. Under no version of "due process" can judges be parties to the case; yet under present arrangement they are -- and decide cases for their own argument. Simply put, at present judging is arbitrary. I find it outrageous.
You, however, seem to accept as self-evidently that judges would seek particular outcomes, and that judging is political in nature. I cannot disagree more.
As to the Supreme court of which you seem to be proud -- it simply does not exist. There is no such thing: 10,000 cases are submitted annually, and only 2% -- 200 are taken; so only 2% of the Supreme court exist. 98% of the cases are, in effect, decided by clerks -- whom no one vetted or authorized to judge (at the Supreme court level, no less). So much (or if you will, so little) for the Supreme court...
"familiar ring"? I thought he was talking about the USofA. Also remember that the Trumps at the Western Wall were afforded more accommodation by Israelis than American reform Jews.
In this the settlers seem to be offered a choice between annexation and having to get out altogether. There must be a compromise position here that they would consider.
On the key issue, the survival of a Jewish State, the Palestinians still refuse to negotiate. While hard to fathom, as long as this continues, it's up to the Israelis to arrive at a fair position for all parties, even knowing that any concessions they offer will be seen as a victory by the Palestinians. Who would be an honest broker and does it matter? The U.N. was an honest broker in the S. China Sea, and the CCP refused to accept their solution.
A vision of safety has resulted in a big blind eye. I’m no fan but when was the last explosion on a bus? I judge lightly
@Ed Latimer If you go to the southwest corner of 42nd Street and 5th Avenue in New York City, there is an imposing edifice known as The New York Public Library. I believe your comment can be found in said Public Library in the Section called, "But The Trains Ran On Time."
@Ed Latimer Exploding buses? That depends on who you ask and which drone they were sent from. Myopia is no way to go through life, Ed.
Both care only about winning - whatever government is irrelevant.
Trump cares about Bibi cause he needs the Christian and Pro Israel vote, Bibi cares about Trump 'cause he wants Trump to bomb Iran rather than himself
So Bibi gets the embassy moved and the endorsement to annex the West Bank and Trump gets the votes he wants
Both only care about being in power, and nothing else
But of the two, Bibi has the better chance to get re-elected
Both America and Israel will survive their "leaders".
Trump and Bibi have much in common.
However, there is no electoral college in Israel.
Unlike the US with its two parties, Israel has proportional representation and currently allows any party ( there are over 20) to be in the Knesset if it polls 3.25% of the overall vote .
If that were the case here, we would have a much more representative body instead of two parties controlling everything, gerrymandering, controlling voting, etc.
Israel is a much more democratic state than the USA.
And Bibi has taken advantage of this by forming coalitions ( no party can rule without the cooperation of others). He knows how to cut deals, pit group against group. He is the consummate politician.
As of July 17, 2019 will have been in power longer than any other PM of Israel.
He knows how to hang onto power and will be around long after Trump is gone, may it happen speedily in our days.
@simon sez: In the American system as it exists now, every voter has a specific member of Congress and two senators they can contact in order to deal with any federal problem, or to in any way make America better as they see it. There's no guarantee that these legislators will do anything, but the more people in any district or state who speak out about a problem, the more chance their legislators will respond. If we brought the Israeli system to the United States, and we had a unicameral legislature with 435 members from more than a dozen parties, each representing the entire nation, then I could not lobby "my" representative because there would be nobody in Congress who represents my city. I think American voters have much more ability to influence the U.S. Congress between elections than Israeli voters have to influence the Knesset between elections.
@simon sez: Israel has a parliamentary form of government.
Also, by US standards....Israel is TINY in both size and population....about 8 million people.
That's smaller than JUST New York city!
Every once in a great while, Friedman knocks one out of the park. This is one of those times.
And the final sentence is the metaphorical equivalent of -- after rounding the bases -- picking up home plate and walking away with it.
Clearly, Trump thinks America is his personal enterprise. There could be no greater threat to Democracy.
Mr. Cohen is wrong. President Trump's peace plan has nothing to do with the elections and their results. Behind the headline "Peace Plan" there is nothing. It's a bluff. The Palestinians know it and the Israelis know it, including Prime Minister Netanyahu. Of course, the elections in September are fateful, and this time, the center-left's chances of winning are not bad, unless Netanyahu, with Trump's support, creates a security tension and frightens Israel's citizens. Similar things have happened in the past and the crisis with Iran can provide the reason. This is the main danger at the moment, an attempt by the Netanyahu-Trump duo to invent a narrative of a serious security threat, thus removing the two important issues from the political agenda: the serious accusations against Netanyahu and the declared intention of the Likud party, the settlers and the ultra-Orthodox, to annex the West Bank in order to create what they call "Greater Israel" and thus eliminate a chance for peace with the Arabs. Michael Karpin is the author of "The bomb in the Basement - How Israel Went Nuclear and What That Means to the World". It was published by Simon & Schuster.
Bibi gazes across the Atlantic, envious of cherished American democratic ideals, where the president is already above the law.
Bibi and Trump ,crime families cashing in Jared has a billion in his pocket from Qatar ,Trump has Saudi funding his properties and as long as Trump stays in office he cannot be indicted , ditto Bibi , birds of a feather.
Thank goodness, Mr. Friedman, we have fellow people of the Jewish faith like you, that will be the downfall of our people. Thank you so much.
I have relatives who live in Israel. They support Netanyahu because he's an unapologetic realist. For all his faults he has had the courage to abandon the so-called Peace Process. It's not in Israel's self-interest. Imagine a scenario where the Arabs won the 1948 war they initiated against Israel. What would have happened? Here's what Arab League's Secretary-General Azzam Pasha promised would happen: "This will be a war of extermination & a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres & the Crusades." How can Israel negotiate with that kind of mentality? They can't. Palestinians don't want peace. They've had a chance for peace many times. They've chosen violence. They're where they are today because of past actions. I'm not a fan of Trump. But he's right on Jerusalem. He had the guts -something liberals & progressives don't have- to recognize reality. The so-called "Peace Process" is a fraud & the people who have pushed it are self-deluded charlatans. In the past 70 years, trillions have been spent trying to solve this problem. We've engaged in horrifying wars with no end in sight because of our involvement in the "Peace Process". A 2013 Harvard study estimated that future medical care & disability benefits for veterans of these wars will exceed $900 billion. What do we have to show for it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The Peace Process was a sham pushed by people who should have known better. Netanyahu isn't going to waste time on this anymore.
Netanyahu is no realist, he's entirely political. Israel's security leaders all said that the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, served Israel's interest and should be upheld. Trump and Netanyahu, for purely political reasons, opposed the deal. Trump's pulling out of the JCPOA is one of the worst blunders in human history and may result in Iran having nuclear weapons. As for your "how can you negotiate with people like that," This pretty much summarises the views of many if not most Black and White South Africans, and many if not most Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. It also summarizes the views of many of the citizens of Israel and Egypt before 1978. But in all three of these conflicts, people found a way to put aside decades of violence and hate and make peace. Israel and Palestine can do the same. I'll grant you that to a significant extent, the peace process between Israel and Palestine has been a sham, but that is because of sham leadership on both sides. And that's why it's time for Israel to toss out its sham leader.
@Bill Brown. Alas, ascribing any agency to Palestinians to make peace is verbotten amongst the western left. Acknowledging that Palestinianism is an annhilationist movement first and a nationalist movement second just doesn't make for entertaining copy.
@Joel Rubinstein Israel will never throw out Netanyahu until the Palestinians throw out their sham leaders if you can call them that. The day the Israeli's lose the so-called balance of power they will be wiped out by Hamas who have promised as much. If you look at the last 70 years the Palestinian status quo has been nothing but terrorism, instability & war. Israel moved out of Gaza more than a decade ago. It has been rewarded with constant attacks emanating from a territory where the infrastructure of mayhem & destruction — rockets, tunnels & the like — is the only growth industry. Israel has no incentives to make any concessions. And they won't until the Palestinians decide they are committed to peace instead of perpetual war.
For all their destructive and cynical similarities, Netanyahu is the bigger threat.
Bibi is considerably more crafty and clever than Trump.
Bibi claims to be speaking not only for Israeli Jews, but for Jews everywhere. And unlike Trump, Netanyahu claims anti-semitism is behind any resistance to his agenda.
Finally, Netanyahu can outsource some of his dirty work to Trump. Moving the Embassy, winking at settlements, the hard line with Iran. He gets his platform and can hide behind Trump.
Donald is just as diabolical, but could never pull this off.
I mostly agree. But calling the Blue and White Party center left is like calling the Libertarian Party in the United States center left. The Blue and White Party is basically Likud without Bibi and with a little milder tone.
It is not for the Armchair Columnists and Opiners herein to determine the fate of Israel. It is up to the citizens of Israel and they have time after time elected Benjamin Netanyahyu to be their Prime Minister. Israel is a country under existential threat from Iran, and has major problems with Hamas in , Hezbollah, Hezbollah, and terrorists.
It is up to the people who brave these threats and live in Israel to choose their leader, regardless of our opinions...
You're right that Israel will have to choose its own leadership, but everyone in the world has a natural right to express his or her opinion on the leadership of his or her own country as well as the leadership of every other country. You're also right about Israel's existential threats, but Netanyahu works against Israel's national security by working against the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) and other ways. It's not just me saying this; Israel's security leaders say the same thing.
Bibi was right about the JCPOA. He is right about land for peace being an delusional sucker's bet. Th notion that Israel and the Palestinians can co-exist in peace has one problem - reality - as in Sharon's foolhardy and ill advised decision unilaterally pull the IDF out of Gaza which created the power vacuum which HAMAS filled and now we all see the result. A terror state armed by Iran reigning rockets and death and bent on the destruction of Israel. Yes reality says that Bibi is correct. We are not all going to stand together on a hill side singing in a Coca Coca commercial about smiles and love and rainbows.
@American Akita Team
Israel's top generals and Mossad leaders disagree with you on all of these points.
These two are the only ones with guts to lead their countries.
Obama got a horrible deal with Iran. Iran killed 600 of our soldiers in Iraq with IEDs and Obama gave them a 1B pallet of cash.
To solve the Iran issue, all Trump needs to do is give Bibi the thumbs us to bomb Iran. Israel bombed Syria’s and Iraq’s nuclear facilities and it worked great - they never got nukes.
@Jay Lincoln: actually Obama gave Iran a $150 BILLION pallet of cash. Not $1 Billion; that would be chump change.
That $150 BILLION is what Iran is developing nuclear armaments with.
As always....THANKS OBAMA!
Quick answer: Donald Trump. America’s institutions are far older than Israel’s even if they aren’t the cleanest.
Israel has enemies in its region wherever it looks on any day. America doesn’t unless one includes Mexico—and if they’re our enemy, it’s largely self-inflicted. If America collapses from within, the wealthy will celebrate and we’ll slide into a semi-feudal state. America will return to its former greatness and glory.
Oh, we’ll be a Russian satellite but MAGA nation will love being forced to learn a new language; learn a new political system; be forced to give up football for soccer; be forced to give up beer for vodka; be forced to give to give up NASCAR for walking; be forced to learn a religion other than a dozen or so conflicting denominations. Oh, it’ll be wonderful. They can’t wait. Remember the tee shirt slogan; “I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat?”
They’ll all be unwilling Communists but what they want or don’t want won’t matter. Oh; and there won’t be any guns; the militias will have them. No buy-backs, either. Don’t turn them in before the deadline? Shot on sight.
Won’t it be great? And Donald Trump will shine Vladimir Putin’s boots.
Sadly, very sadly, I think Israel may already have lost itself, and were it not for crazy evangelicals in the US, it might have been lost our support.
Israelis are not known for being timid political players, and the idea that Bibi is going to destroy democracy there is a bit laughable.
He may try to bend the law here and there, like most politicians (including Tom's hero Obama), but that's a far cry from the destruction of the country that Tom is crying about.
More to the point, Bibi is obviously still somewhat popular, even after all these years, mostly because he has been right about the most serious threats facing the country.
And that means a lot to the citizens of Israel.
Isn't this like the question "which is worse: having an atomic bomb hit your house or a hydrogen bomb hitting your house?"
I would say Netanyahu is in the lead, but I wouldn’t count out DJT.
Thomas Friedman really needs to brush up on his basic civics. The United States is not a democracy--we're a Constitutional Republic. Democracy was the last thing the Founding Fathers wanted. Israel, by comparison, has a parliamentary system where the voters elect a party instead of an individual candidate. The head of the winning party gets to form the next government. Despite his failure to form a working government Bibi Netanyahu is still Prime Minister until another round of elections can be held.
Neither the United States nor Israel is a democracy.
Don’t be pedantic. “Democracy” in this context simply means liberal democracy, a broad term capable of including both parliamentary governments and republics. It’s a system that features fair elections, a separation of powers, an independent judiciary, and a free press. All of these are endangered by the likes of both Netanyahu and Trump.
Ninety-five percent of the GOP - a major United States political party for more than 150 years, the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt- don't care that our President, Donald Trump, is a crook and grifter, who tries to corrupt everyone around him. Among those who care the least is the so-called Christian Right. Why do we expect Israel to be better?
Mr. Friedman, with all due respect, you are missing the point. Israel has shifted to the right in the span of the past 30 or more years. There are the ultra orthodox who are demographically growing, for the obvious reasons, they have large families. They tend to vote en mass for their party with very little deviation. There are the ultra nationalist, racist, xenophobic settlers, who have infiltrated the corridors of power, and have an outsize influence on government policy. Finally, there is the majority of Israelis whose roots are Middle Eastern, who have a deep seated, irrational hatred of the Ashkenazi Labor Zionists who they blame for what they think is their long disenfranchisement and access to the corridors of power. Their semi literate ilk are very well represented in the Likud party in the Knesset, They don't care about the rule of law, nor that Bibi and his cronies and family are clearly corrupt. Human rights and Liberal ideals are foreign to them. They vote with their gut feeling, We liberal Israelis are an abject minority. Many of our educated and professional children are settling in foreign countries where they can pursue their careers and lives without seeing how our fragile democracy is eroding before our very eyes.
Still another misstatement of fact and a purposeful falsehood of large dimension common to these pages. This is a republic, not a democracy. That means the individual is the prime mover, not the "society", or mob. The individual is "subject" to very little -- in opposition to "progressives" who seek control over everyone. This is the crux of the antipathy toward the nanny state advocated by the intellectual lilliputians certain scribes have sacrificed their integrity for. The country's politics are foul, it's participants and panjandrums even more so. Nonetheless we are forced to choose and we prefer entertaining buffoonery to snotty self-righteousness. Every time.
Trump and Netanyahu have important things in common: They are both crooks and authoritarians. They both have unsatisfactory children. Trump: Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka; Bibi, his son, Yair.
However, there is at least one important difference. No ambassador would ever say of Bibi that he is inept, radiating insecurity, chaotic. Bibi is better organized than Trump, and a lot clever, politically. He is more of a danger to Israel than Trump is to the U.S.
And because Netanyahu has so completely snookered both Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, they don’t understand that if Bibi wins, the Trump peace plan is dead on arrival.
There is no peace plan. There is a Kushner/Trump "plan" and I use that term loosely.
Kushner, Trump, Netanyahu are not honorable men. They are all quite despicable.
Thank you for that courageous writing.
Bibi. He is an ideologue. Trump has not pivot point and is all over the place.
It's not tough at all. Which one has more at stake?
To rally Israelis to the protection of his power, Netanyahu sees a route through escalating the fissures between Israel and Iran to armed combat . . . fought to the death by American troops.
Mr. Friedman being so well informed about Israel, you having spent some time there? I myself am an American, Israeli, Jew. My family can be traced back to arriving in Jerusalem to 1803, a matter of fact my family had a home opposite of the Western Wall. Don't know if you had the wonderful opportunity to have a family with small children living in Israel,able to not enjoy the very fact that someone is constantly trying to kill you and yours.Whether it be from rockets from Lebanon,Syria, Gaza, or picking up pieces of once was a person blown to bits in a suicide bombing.Don't know how many of your friends you grew up with but ended up burying them in their 20's, or the children of your friends,killed in endless wars?The reality of Israeli's can't be understood living for a year or 2, never serving as almost all Israeli's have done.I also don't know if you speak fluent Hebrew,if you do you would know that there are to many songs that Israeli's sing begging for peace,never to the death of Arabs.With all that, Israeli's keep choosing BB,WHY?I suggest you go to the Galilee in some of the Arab villages and speak to the people there,ask them about Israeli's,peace,you would be shocked.As for Jews here in America, they have left Israel along time ago,sadly hoping their new religion of tikun olam would keep them safe. Which after what has gone on in the halls of Congress good luck to them.Israel has always said when there is someone to talk peace with we are here.
That's a trick question! Trump would probably be the greater threat, because of his tendency to be enthralled by dictators, his affinity for bigots and nativists, and so on. But Netanyahu does not actually have a democracy right now, as the Palestinians who live under his rule cannot vote. So, Netanyahu cannot be a threat to a democracy which does not exist.
@Dan Stackhouse: of course Palestinians don't vote in Israeli elections -- and would never WANT to do so....they do not see themselves as CITIZENS of Israel at ALL.
It would be like claiming that Iraq and Afghanistan are part of the US, because we occupy them militarily and therefore, all Afghans and Iraqis are US citizens and entitled to vote in US elections.
To answer your question, Mr.Friedman, many details of this sorry saga sound depressingly familiar.Attorney General Mendelblit’s accusation that “ you corrupted public servants working under you” strikes so close to the heart of charges against Trump who is trying to corrupt public servants.He had an Attorney General Sessions,who actually did the right thing and recused himself from overseeing the Mueller probe and Trump was livid- he found a way to get an Attorney General who would be his Attorney- not someone who would act in the best interests of the country.Trump tried to corrupt his White House Counsel Don McGahn, asking him to obstruct Justice- the list goes on.I am afraid that Trump and Kushner will do everything in their power to help re-elect Bibi, their good friend.Because of the dire consequences you predict, I pray that Bibi loses-I am not Jewish,but a vibrant and lawful Jewish State is in the best interests of all of us.
To answer your question, Mr.Friedman,yes a lot of the sorry saga you describe sounds depressingly familiar.Attorney General Mendelblit said of Netanyahu ,you corrupted the public servants working for you! He could just as easily have said this about Trump.Trump had an Attorney General who actually did the right thing and recused himself from supervising the Mueller Investigation-Trump flew into a rage and searched for an Attorney General who would represent his interests.He tried to get his White House Counsel to commit obstruction of justice.The corruption of public servants is continuing.Certainly Trump and Kushner will move heaven and earth to accommodate their good friend,Bibi Netanyahu.I join you in praying for the Jewish State,not because I am Jewish,but because a vibrant and lawful Israel is in the world’s best interest.
I think the sad truth is that things in the Middle East will have to get worse for them to be able to get better. People need to give up on the delusion of Jews and Muslims there living side by side peacefully with equal rights. Two groups of people can't live next to each other and work together in the same government if they utterly despise each other and each side would kill the other if they had a chance. It just isn't going to happen.
Furthermore, giving people lectures on world peace and handing out flowers and teddy bears isn't going to change things--too much blood has already been spilled. People there simply can't trust each other at all.
Does this mean some people will have to be uprooted and relocated? Yes. Will this happen peacefully? Probably not. Will this be a terrible process? Absolutely. I just don't see another way out of the endless cycle of violence and oppression.
If anything, hopefully people in this country can observe this disaster play out and see what happens when hatred and violence between two groups of people gets out of control. If the political and racial tone in this country continues to get worse, we may also cross a point of no return...
Trump is a bigger threat to democracy due to his love of self above ALL else.
The global rise of illiberalism and the undermining of independent judiciaries and a free press is the challenge of the age.
Authoritarianism isn’t like some coat you can try on and then cast aside if you don’t like it. Once you don that mantle, it stays on your back through all seasons!
No mention in this article about the fact that the leaders of the PLO and Hamas are on record as wishing to destroy, eradicate and replace Israel. They do not want to have normalization with Israel in any form. No suggestions from Mr. Friedman, either. To overcome the rejection and hatred emanting from these terrible leaders who refuse to come to a peace with Israel.
The biggest threats to democracy anywhere are ignorance, greed, complacency and fear among their populations, all four sharply increasing nowadays with the help of a spate of the most vulgar politicians Western and non-Western democracies have ever known - Trump, Bibi, Johnson, Salvini, Orban, Erdogan, Duterte. Structural reliance on the lowest common denominator has long been recognized as democracy's Achille's Heel. It is time to put a stop to this relentless dumbing down of politics. If democracies don't reform soon, they will vanish. One of my pet solutions would go a long way toward fixing this aberration: single mandate elections at all levels. Why is this practically never discussed, including in the NYT, The Atlantic, The Washington Post and super-brainy think tanks?
The saddest part is that there is such a strong competition in a race to the bottom between two figureheads of once Democratic nations.
Both Bibi and Trump abuse power, act cynically and scandalously, garner support with scapegoating and fear-mongering, and seek to disenfranchise those citizens they consider undesirable or second-class.
These two seem like a case study in dictators and failed leaders.
Like many of the rest of the world's major problems/crises, this loops back to Trump. As an enabler of Bibi, Trump helps to ensure his survival- the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, the "peace plan" with no political solution, etc
"If Bibi wins, the Trump peace plan is dead on arrival. Bibi can only survive politically now with a coalition that would reject any hint of power sharing with Palestinians, no matter how feeble."
Trump peace plan? Isn't Netanyahu already spoon-feeding Trump's Israel policy to him? How many nanoseconds do you think it would take Trump to sign on to whatever Bibi were to propose after the election?
Both Trump and Netanyahu use external threats to maintain their base and stay in power - immigration and trade for Trump - Palestine and Iran for Bibi. Netanyahu precedes Trump but has become more reactionary while watching Trump get away with same here. They both feed off each other. Netanyahu is strategic and smart, Trump is neither. Both are dangerous - Bibi though, to me, is the more existential threat to his country. Through him, Israel may not remain the beacon we hope it to be.
It is hard to tell whether orthodox jews or christian evangelicals are trying hardest to dismantle their respective democracies.
Very informative piece Mr. Friedman! And yes it had a familiar ring. How partisanship’s placed above individual debates and votes can easily quash free one person-one vote public democracy—whether at the Public’s ballot box and or the Public’s Officials Representative level.
This anarchy follows a particular pattern. Put trained operatives with personal agendas (arrogant power) in prominent control of public information, laws & institutions. And at some point such democratic corruption becomes the new normal. Getting along within the status quo rather than demanding social justice. The only difference between Israel and the US governmental crisis is the former blossomed from a single leader’s drive to escape public justice whereas the latter was a longterm strategy to reshape gov. Justice into private matters by secret schemes and collaborations.
Most Americans cannot distinguish anymore between discrete individual, local, state or federal concerns. Only the first is a personal choice the rest is by majority votes. The fact you have confidence in Israel’s judiciary is promising. In the U.S. all are Federal public institutions seem to be managed mostly by Constitutionally corrupt, inept & spineless leaders!
Good synopsis of Bibi's corrupt character and behavior. One correction - Trump and Kushner weren't snookered by Netanyahu. Trump has no peace plan, and it should now be clear that neither does Jared. Both have been supportive of Bibi because Trump wants political support of religiously extreme American Jews. In the process, they have helped destroy any hope of an independent Palestinian state. That leaves one single state, or else permanent abuse with continued theft of land and political and social suppression of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Mr Netanyahu has seen the weakening if not sundering of rule of law in the US and the power of a tame Supreme Court to follow the reactionary line and deliver across-the-board results, so of course, why not do the same in Israel? Or Poland? Or Hungary? Or Turkey?
Personality-based leaders across the world have watched Trump's confounding of accountable government in the US with great interest.
Israel is just one canary in a very dark mine.
Bibi and his sidekick in DC are like two peas in a pod, two ‘obverse’ sides of the same ‘fascist-leaning’ coin.
In other words, both are as detrimental to rule of law and democracy as a full-fledged dictator in the West masquerading as a ‘scion of democracy’.
Electors beware...or be perished in the doomsday scenario that ensues with the Third World War in the MidEast.
Bibi stands for dictatorship and so does his protégé in Washington (DC).
Time to call a spade a spade and get the respective countries back on the path to redemption aka ‘sanity’.
@MASA. How is winning Democratic elections "dictatorship"? You want a dictator, look at billionaire Abu Mazen in the 15th year of his 4 year term and his 17 million dollar palace.
I want to thank Mr. Friedman for introducing the term "creeping annexation of the West Bank" into the public arena. This is the first time any Jewish pundit/analyst has called out Netanyahu and the right wing parties who support him explicitly. Every time anyone dared mention 'annexation' as a the goal of LIkud, that person was deemed an antisemite. Mr. Friedman is not antisemitic nor is he a self hating Jew. He is a thoughtful person who struggles with the irreconcilable concept of democracy and a Jewish state. Israel can be one and not the other.
I personally favor a single secular state defined by a constitution.
Tom Friedman has made it clear over and over that he cares about the Palestinians first and foremost. Good for Tom. I care about Israel and the Jewish people. Israel, while more democratic than any other country in the Middle East, is not a democracy. It wasn't designed to be. Israel is the Jewish State; an insurance policy against the repeated and historic persecution and murder of Jews. No one who isn't Jewish is ever going to receive the same rights as Jews. That's the way it should be. It's a tiny country whose sole responsibility is to protect Jews at all costs. Fortunately, for the Palestinians they already have a state: Jordan. As for Netanyahu's fate, I'll leave that for the Israeli citizens who live on the front lines facing terror day and night to decide and I will respect and support their decision. The opinions of self hating Jews are irrelevant.
Trump's corruption makes Bibi look like Pericles!
OH -And the Israeli's would not vote for trump as street cleaner.
They require a modicum of intellect and courage.
Bibi gave his entire life to preserving Israels survival AND Israel still faces 24/7 security challenges.
Israeli's do not want a Hamas controlled west bank along with Hamas in Gaza - Hezbollah /Syrian proxies in Lebanon and now in Syria.
Israelis know they can depend on BIBI to place their security first!
Israeli's know Bibi will never compromise their security
Question is flawed. You are obviously not a Palestinian to call Israel a democracy.
Bibi is a threat to the survival of the planet. He represents the flood. If Liberman could stop fighting with Gantz, they could represent the dove.
Bibi and Trump, both so alike and so deserving of resounding defeats.
Tom, no one could have been more wrong than you about the invasion of Iraq. You applauded it...blue thumbs and all. Let it go, man.
You are disqualified from opining on the Middle East.
Trump and Bebe are both threats to democracy! Trump because he is basically ignorant and in love with dictators, murders and strongmen. Trump did not even read the Iran deal because he does not read but took Bebe's word for it and withdrew the country from it. The US breached the contract at Bebe's pleadings, not Iran. Now we have that mess to deal with because of Bebe...Bebe is too hard line, too entrenched and has been there too long. There will never be peace in the middle east with Bebe. I pray the Israelis do not re-elect him and go with the new guy! Breath of fresh air new out look...Israel will be much better off without Bebe or trump!
Israel should adopt the Palestinian form of government.
Friedman seems to have no problems with it.
Well said - Friedman forgets "from the river to the sea Palestine will be free" not to mention the corruption of the PLO at the expense of the people living in the West bank.
Neither is a threat to democracy, Thomas. Netanyahu has worked hard to protect Israel and its democracy from the enemies that completely surround it who want to "push the Jews into the sea". He has successfully secured Israel's borders which is something Trump hasn't been able to do yet due to Dem liberal obstruction. Yes, Trump has many faults but in 2020 he only needs to be the lesser of the two evils. Faced with opponents who ride the Dem liberal socialist crazy train line, I suspect Trump will end up being reelected.
I read comments like yours and I weep for my country. Apparently, forty-odd percent of our fellow citizens more or less agree with you. More's the pity.
You fulminate about the "Dem liberal socialist crazy train." I hope you'll spend some time in the coming days reading our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. A good number of conservatives of their day tarred the Founders as wild radicals.
While you're at it, I hope you'll do a bit of research on the meaning of socialism. There are no Democratic candidates for the presidency who are advocating socialism. There is a difference between good stewardship of our shared resources, of working together for public goods just as hard as we work for our individual good ... and socialism which advocates that government control all of the apparatus of production.
I hope that you're wrong about Trump's reelection in 2020. The man is a nascent fascist - and before you bust a gut, google Lawrence Britt's "14 Elements of Fascism". Mr. Trump fits the bill. Think about it when you cast your vote. That is what you are voting for.
BTW, did any of your forebears serve in WWII? Remember what that was about?
@Mike "Dem liberal obstruction"? Say what? Netanyahu had no problem taking billions of American tax payers dollars to secure Israel's security. Now he has been shown to be corrupt just like his BF Trump and his family friend Jared. BTW Trump org and Kushner org along with BiBi are going to rake in millions when they develop the West bank and Golan Heights. If everyone knew the real truth about the sleezy corruption by these "so-called" leaders--neither would be re elected--they would be "locked up."
@James Thomas I think you'll be doing a lot of weeping, James, come 2020. There are worthy social programs like Medicare and Social Security but many Americans draw the line at open borders, reparations, guaranteed incomes for those who have no use for work, and I could go on. That fits the definition of socialism for many Americans. I don't care for many things Trump does but I'll take him over the loony Dem left any day. As regards WW2, yes, they served because the US and its allies were attacked. Social justice had nothing tyo do with it. Regarding history, perhaps you forgot that when a ship containing Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler's death camps, Roosevelt (a Dem liberal) turned the ship away. The Brits did the same thing in Palestine until things came to a head when the Jewish Irgun blew up the King David Hotel, the Brits' favorite watering hole. The Brits cut and ran, and Israel was born.
The two are apples and oranges. Though in this case, we have one rotten, corrupted apple bent on spreading its rot to all its neighbors, and on the other hand we have a giant, inflated, disgusting orange squeezing citric acid over the eyes of asylum-seeking children and rape victims.
"every Jew who cares about the Jewish state will eventually have to make an ethical choice about whether or not they can continue to support Israel."
I made that choice long ago and no longer support Israel. Friedman apparently thinks that most Jews are willing to accept a little corruption and slow, covert strangulation of the Palestinians, but won't accept Israel doing openly what it has been doing covertly for years. Is it OK with your conscience it's the actions are not blatant and you can pretend it's not happening?
I don’t like either trump or Bibi - but Friedman and most commenters miss the fundamental issue because they do not even address the Palestinians’ position. Bibi’s policies are counterproductive but there is no Palestinian partner for peace. The Palestinians have rejected several offers which would have produced a two state solution. Hamas proclaims that it considers all of Israel to be occupied territory and Abbas says the same thing to
his people. Palestinians rejection of the peace offers in 2000 and 2008, the israeli casualties in the resulting intifada, and Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and Hamas’ use of Gaza as a launching pad for rockets have made Israelis realize that the status quo is better than the alternative now. If Israel withdraws from the West Bank and Jerusalem, Hamas will take over and the area will be a launching pad for future attacks. The international airport, Tel Aviv and all of Israel will be in mortar range, for which Israel has no defense. The Palestinians will then be much closer to their oft-stated goal of eliminating the israeli Jews.
I doubt that Trump cares about the peace plan in the slightest. If Netanyahu and Co transform Israel into an apartheid state in which the Palestinians are so oppressed that their voices cannot be heard, trump would call that a peaceful solution and take credit.
@RP Take a look at how the PLO repressed its own before you cast stones. They live in riches and have turned down peas offers over 50 years. Take a look at how Arab states and so many African states have normalized relations with Israel. and please stop with the apartheid argument - Arabs live in Israel with full rights. Nelson Mandela took a look and said that Israel was not an apartheid state - do you need a more valid spokesperson. Palestinian voices need to be heard by the PLO and HAMAS first. That will be when the "from the river to the sea" chant dies and the people come first.
I’ve always found Bibi revolting. Something about him seriously rubs me the wrong way. Hopefully he’ll be thrown out. In the meantime, my fellow American Jews should stop sending any and all charitable funds for Israel. They don’t need it. And until common sense prevails in the land flowing with milk and honey, my tax dollars don’t need to flow there either.
I have always disliked Netanyahu. Too slick and fundamentally dishonest, in my opinion. But that is not a reason for withholding charitable support for Israelis in need. Instead, that might be a good reason to direct your financial support to Israeli organizations that fight for democracy and civil rights, and against corruption.
Do the elements of this story have a familiar ring to me. I'm not hearing the twinkling of bells, more like the thunder of a gigantic R.K.O. gong being struck by a large mallet.
Honestly, I am getting tired of reading about the problems of Israel. God Bless them and keep them. May they stay safe,well-armed and keep the Golan. I mean, they have nukes, subs and missiles. Do the math.
However, they are obviously well on the way to becoming an apartheid state. And that will make things difficult.
Meanwhile,we have major problems of our own, not the least of which is millions of Bible-Thumpers who want Israel to fight wars to reach its so-called "...Biblical Boundaries...", in which event Jesus is supposed to comeback.
As an American who happens to be Jewish, it's the United States I care about. I gave up on Isreal when Begin came in - Bibi is the logical extension. If I have to die on the streets because I'm rebelling, the US is where I will do it.
Thank you for your meaningful contribution. You are the model of sane patriotism.
Netanyahu, like all ruthless corrupt autocrats, will do absolutely anything to remain in power. Partnering with Kihanist terrorists is the low-point of a grubby corrupt career of sleazy politics.
I agree entirely with Mr.Friedman, but there two tangential issues of vocabulary I would like to address.
(a) I object to Mr. Friedman's use of the word "emasculate" as a synonym for "weaken." Why not "eviscerate" instead. There is, or should be, nothing specifically testicular about authority and the use of it.
(b) I was glad to see Mr. Friedman use the word "apartheid" in this piece. We all remember the hullabaloo that arose when President Carter used the same word. Perhaps it's more permissible to use that word if you're Jewish (but even then someone will accuse one of being a self-hating Jew). In any case, telling the truth is essential to meaningful debate.
Interesting point about "emasculate" versus "eviscerate".
Re "apartheid", you missed the boat. Mr. Friedman did not say or suggest that Israel is an apartheid state. He quoted Ehud Barak, who expressed concern that with Netanyahu in charge Israel may be on a "slippery slope" towards apartheid. Currently, however, Israel remains a vibrant democracy with many political parties representing a broad spectrum of political opinions, interests, religions and ethnicities -- including Christian Arabs, Muslim Arabs, Druze, Ethiopians, etc.
@Jonathan The problem isn't the political engagement within Israel. The problem is dealing with 2.5M non-Israelis in disputed territory. Jordan and the UN have no actual sovereignty over the WB, and if it is to become independent or become part of Israel, the rights of the current residents need to be respected. It is not at all clear that Israel can actually do this; there doesn't seem to be the will for starters. Similarly, it is abundantly clear that local political leadership is unable or unwilling to respect the rights of the Palestinian people. So it seems that another solution is needed. There is no way that annexation or the status quo can continue without continuing to degrade the Palestinians. Similarly, if Israel walks away, like in Gaza, there is a similar disaster. Under these circumstances a slow march on the current path and towards apartheid seems inevitable. Ehud knows this is a slow march, not a slippery slope.
Thomas, if you can answer this one you will win the prize. Good luck.
Bibi is smarter, but has a second-rate military.
He's leader of the world's largest, wealthiest, richest and older democracy. There's a lot more to lose.
No country or world leader ever asked Israel to help them defeat a fascist in a World War.
Many of us think Trump would refuse to do that.
Netanyahu is a menace to Israeli democracy.
Trump is a menace to U.S. democracy, Israeli democracy, and democracies and decent representative governments throughout the world who may someday benefit from our support - or our example.
The only difference between Trump and Netanyahu is that one is Jewish and the other isn’t. Beyond that, they’re both vile, corrupt leaders who value their grip on power more than maintaining the integrity of democratic norms and institutions.
On a personal note, as long as Netanyahu is in power, I’m living proof that an American Jew can be anti-Israel.
@ASD32, I personally cannot believe that a thoughtful American Jew can or should be anti-Israel. As an American Jew, I happen to be opposed to the present Netanyahu-led government of Israel but not against the existence of Israel itself. There is a difference. For instance, I am opposed to the present government of the United States. Does this in your opinion make me anti-American?
If you read what I wrote, you would have seen that my anti-Israel feeling is directly linked to Netanyahu. I’m not against the existence of Israel. Far from it. I’m against Netanyahu who makes it very difficult to support Israel politically. A lot of American Jews feel the same way.
@ASD32 My best friend, who is Jewish, told me many years ago that "Not all Jews are Zionists". It took me many years to fully understand what she meant, and following the career of Bibi was one of the main learning tools. Yep, I can see how it's possible to support the country and its people without supporting the current policies of the "leader".
An important opinion piece on Israel.
My knowledge of Israel is not exhaustive. As many non-Jewish well-wishers of Jews and Israel, I have been of the opinion that Netanyahu could lead Israel into it's eventual ruin.
One way or another Israel has to accommodate the Palestinian rights & needs, probably with more than they deserve. Palestinian demands tend to be unreasonable. Their gripes may appear justifiable, which the world buys, regardless of the reality behind it.
Netanyahu seems to look at Palestinians with contempt, which enrages them.
In 2000, Arafat was close to agreeing to a deal. But then he feared he would be assassinated by his hardliners. And it fell apart. Now that's water under the bridge.
Ehud Barak, if he wins may not solve the problem. But it will improve the sentiments between Jews and Palestinians, which in itself is a big deal, after so many years of Netanyahu's hardline rule.
Both 'leaders' honesty believe that they should be 'leaders for life.' Both are so full of themselves and afraid of being called on it, that their fear of being found out determines every move they make, not for their country or its people, but for themselves. Both have assumed control of once noble examples of courage, freedom, independence and strength and squandered their obligation to carry those traditions forward at the expense of their all too fragile egos.
This too shall pass. But at what expense? This is not the lesser of two evils, it's the combination of them both.
Who is a bigger threat to democracy? Neither Bibi nor Trump, though God knows they have a lot to answer for. But, no, it's the mob that supports them, that cares nothing for democracy and rule of law, that doesn't even care that they themselves are taken advantage of so long as the people they resent suffer cruelly. They delight in the permission the leader gives them to vent their hatreds. They are not bothered by the leaders' moral failings because, despite their surface piety, their leaders are doing what they themselves would do it they had the chance.
Unfortunately Israelis, regardless of political affiliation, know that the winner of the Israeli election wont be able to make peace with the Palestinians. That is because the Palestinians no longer have any elections. Hamas violently expelled the Palestinian Authority from Gaza and will never allow an election that puts their rule at risk. Meanwhile Abbas, the President of the PA, has undemocratically extended his "term" year after year because he (quite correctly) has assumed he and his cronies can't survive an election. Mr. Friedman's analysis would be more complete if it even mentioned the lack of a credible Palestinian negotiating partner and its effect on the electability of anyone from the Israeli Left.
You hit on my reaction to this essay.
Why can't Barak win this election?
"The main barrier to this vision is Israel’s world-class judicial system, free press and civil society. So the right wing has to emasculate them. Barak spotlighted that connection for all Israelis."
Don't Israelis value their judicial system, free press and civil society? If they do, why wouldn't they vote for Barak?
If most Israelis vote for Netanyahu and don't value their judicial system, free press and civil society, then Israel is not what Americans want to believe it is.
And if Trump is re-elected in 2020, then America is not what we want to believe it is either.
@Victor The real problem for democracy starts with the people who are not able to recognize that ones compatriots may hold absolutely different opinion on something is going in their country. Then they start to complain , after loosing an election, that people are wrong. Once you support democracy, you must accept will of the majority, as long at that will are not contradicting basic human rights and freedoms. Period.
A pox on both of them, dragging their nations into the gutter of ego-driven power.
My question is simply, are Bibi and Trump the problem or are they more likely symptoms of the problem (the greater threat to democracy). After all we, the voting public, put these men in office. The Israeli public has supported Bibi's expansionist policies , ethical lapses and suppression of the basic human rights of the Palestinians for decades longer than the U.S. has supported and has countenanced Trump's greed and his contravention of the basic humane treatment of illegal immigrants to the U.S. If I were to point the finger at someone as being the problem, it would more likely be at the uneducated and uninformed voters that put these men in office.
Understand the following
- there were outside international influences that pushed the US election. Remember Russia? Trump is a buffoon that was the result of so many bad issues it is mind boggling including Russia, gerrymandering, Citizens United.
- the reason there will be a new election in Israel is because Bibi could not get a coalition. That is Parliamentary democracy working - not being bamboozled.
- the one Palestinian that did opt to go to Bahrain was punished by the PA. As I remember the PLO would not attend.
- peace plans have been presented to the Palestinians more than once and have been met by Intifada and terror.
- the PLO has no interest in boosting the economy of its citizens and rather pays terrorists and festers hate of Jews.
- the Kushner peace plan was DOA per Abbas before it even got off the ground
- Arabs live in Israel, are part of the government while Abbas says Palestine will be "Jew Free".
- Last but not least or rather most important the goal of PLO, Hezbollah and Hamas is the destruction of the State of Israel. If you don't believe that then look at the tunnels and horrific fires being set by HAMAS in the south after Israel withdrew.
So Mr. Friedman - where is your balance?
1. Re: Outside influences on the U.S. elections: These "outside influences" manifested themselves on social media; Facebook, Twitter, and so forth. The fact that many voters relied on these sources of (dis)information to "educate" themselves instead of the Times, Post, WSJ, and the many other credible media sources enabled the "outside influences". So, again, I lay the blame on the gullible, uneducated and uninformed voters and not the outside influences.
2. Bibi first came to power in 1996. After over twenty years in the public square, Israeli voters must understand who this man is and yet have continued to keep him in power. There is no other explanation than to accept that the majority of Israeli voters support his expansionist policies through the building of settlements on Palestinian land and the suppression of the rights of the Palestinian people to have their own state.
3. Golda Meir and the many brave heroes that fought the Yom Kippur war that led to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 must be turning over in their graves when they see what the democracy they fought to establish, which included and gave equal rights to Palestinian and other Arab citizens, has descended into an Apartheid state.
4. And Peace Plans! Put yourself in the position of the Palestinian people and look at them objectively from this perspective and than talk to me about Peace Plans.
Israel : The Only Democracy over the place there
Israel its the only democracy "whatsoever" over the Middle East.
So any argument that doesn't take it in account, its about to lose its basic rational and true ground
Israel : The Only Democracy over the place there
@Mark Lebanon is also a democracy. How often people forget that.
Its a democracy the same way Apartheid South Africa was a democracy. They have elections for the chosen people. The non-chosen people dont get the vote.
So its not really a democracy. 50% of the population cant vote.
When is the congress or whoever controls this country going to stop pussy footing around with Trump and his criminal gang and throw some people in jail where they belong. It has been going on since he and the Russians stole the Presidency. I for one am sick of this fake prez and senate. McConnell and his ilk are just a bunch of fascist dictators. Wake up America and save what is left of our democracy.
I have been reading one of the Israeli newspapers for the past few weeks. I had to stop because it felt too much like the news in the U.S. Only one dose of a right wing dictator is way too much to read about as it is.
Bibi and Trump are two sides of the same coin.
Heads I win, tails you lose.
Thank you for using (perhaps coining?) the expression "creeping annexation". That's what it is, and only a Pollyanna or a genuine "true believer" would attempt to argue otherwise.
As for Trump's and Bibi's political philosophies, I think each of them would walk through a cardboard cutout of the other in chalked suits without leaving a mark. Both can be understood only under a lens that discriminates the ageless urge of "L'etat, c'est moi!"
I think American Jews should continue to support a two-state solution. I guess if Israel did what until recently was unthinkable and form an apartheid state that included all of the West Bank then I would think most American Jews should strongly condemn it and work to undo the damage. Hopefully that worst case scenario will not come to pass and the two-state solution will remain a possible option after this election. The Palestinians need to have their own state for any hope of peace. Many Palestinians believe it is their land and they will never give up fighting for a least a significant portion of it. Netanyahu and the other Israeli right wing extremists must face that fact and come back to reality and start once again working for a two-state solution.
If Bibi wins, Trump gets re-elected and the British make Boris Johnson their prime minister, it won't take very long before WWIII starts in the Middle East. Unfortunately, I bet British Bookies would tell you the odds of that happening are good.
Israel, a beacon of democratic ideals in the Middle East is quickly morphing into the theocratic dictatorships it fought against with its blatant suppression of minority population.
@F. Ahmed: Israel has 20% of its population as Araba.
Most are Muslim, but some are Arab Christians.
Arab Israeli CITIZENS have every right of citizenship, including voting and serving in the Israeli military.
They are not oppressed or suppressed.
Your statement is provably false.
What peace plan?
The one by the clueless son-in-law from an orthodox crime family? Or the one by the (also clueless) president who panders to people for whom the second coming of Christ is the main goal?
Israel is close to my heart, and a beacon of good in the region. It will be beyond sad if they squander their morality.
That ship has sailed. Our ship is casting off.
Sorry, Tom, but I don’t “admire” Israel. Used to but no longer. And for all your parsing of Israel’s politics—Netanyahu versus Barack, etc., etc.—I find an article about Israel that quotes not a single Palestinian representative to be totally lacking in credibility.
Yes they do Mr. Friedmand. You could almost replace Bibi's name by Trump's and it would pretty much be the same.
Netanyahu has been unable to form a ruling parliamentary majority while here in the U.S. we have Donald Trump posing an immediate "existential threat" to our Constitution and its "rule o f law." These are the Ten Commandments requiring his impeachment that are being ignored by Nancy Pelosi and her House Democrats in a calculated political risk to our democracy:
1 Obstruction of justice (in the Mueller report);
2 Unindicted co-conspirator ("Individual-1") in a felony with Michael Cohen in election fraud;
3 Violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause (with continued ownership of government leased hotels); and
4 Its "separation of powers" by obstructing all House attempts at Congressional oversight;
5 "Crimes against humanity" resulting in 12 deaths of immigrants held in inhumane and unsanitary condition in concentration camps on our Southern border;
6 Seeking and accepting aid from a foreign power to win the election (in the Mueller report);
7 Supporting his Counselor, Kellyanne Conway, in defying multiple violations of the Hatch Act, requiring her dismissal according to a Trump-appointed Special Counsel; and
8 Having his Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, disobey a Congressional request for his tax returns as required unconditionally;
9 Working with his Attorney General, William Barr, to undermine the CIA and FBI by investigating them for "spying;" and
10 To circumvent a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting a census "citizenship" question.
Trump, for the the simple reason that Israel needs right wing war hawks in our government.
No president like our donald, no bibi.
we need to focus on this country and its existential choices........our plate is full here.
do we clean house and create a more caring society ?
do we demand lower and middle classes can have a decent life and future ?
do we protect ALL our children ?
Israel must figure out its own destiny. We need to focus all our energies here.
Israël and the Palestinians long ago passed the rubicon. Without a two state solution they embarked on the Dance of Death. Following that, Israel was headed toward autocracy and a civil war. And I don’t mean a civil war between the Israelis and the Palestinians. A civil war between Netanyahu and the settlers on the one hand and a Democratic Israel on the other.
If Israel were to change course and create a Palestinian state, they would have to close many settlements to make Palestine viable. But removing settlers would spark the civil war. Therefore, creating Palestine is off the table. That bridge was crossed in 2000.
Hence the Dance of Death. The only viable Israel in the Dance of Death is a totalitarian Israel.
@Maurie Beck. You are assuming that Palestine would accept any Jewish state and not use any territory given to it as the staging ground for attacks. To see the folly of this reasoning look no further than Gaza.
@Maurie Beck. Moreover, "Settlers" were moved out of Gaza in 2005. No Civil War ensued.
It starts with the ideology and the people who embrace it. A leader who taps into this is self-serving. In this regard, both Bibi and Trump are a threat to Democracy. There is no sense to asking who is bigger a bigger threat as the threat eats away our democracy at whatever rate.
how about those that rejected the last US election? "not my President", they screech.
My progressive friends love freedoms and democracy; just not when the election results go against them. This is the threat against democracy.
Trump acts like a buffoon. Yet, he is upholding the rule of law and the constitution.
Progressives loudly and proudly are trying to subvert rule of law by electing Attorney Generals who will flout rule of law and decide who and how to prosecute. Progressives are loudly trying to stack the judicial benches so that "opinions" can swing the law; rather than the law as written.
again, this is the true threat to our democracy and rule of law.
@Joe Yo "Trump acts like a buffoon. Yet, he is upholding the rule of law and the constitution."
Congress bears the responsibility to declare war, not Trump. However, Trump is waging economic war against Iran whose purpose is to drive Iran's oil exports to zero so that forces apparently known to John Bolton can seize control from the present leadership.
In 2010 when the IAEA notified the Security Council that Iran had violated limits set within the nuclear weapons inspections agreement that Iran had with the IAEA the Security Council authorized severe sanctions against Iran. The U.S. Congress passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and
Divestment Act of 2010 authorizing the sanctions.
In 2018 the IAEA certified that Iran was in full compliance with JCPOA and the CIA confirmed that Iran had not violated JCPOA and was not developing nuclear weapons. On the basis of no verifiable evidence president Trump adopted John Bolton's plan for regime change in Iran, exited JCPOA, and imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran without authorization of the Security Council. Trump sanctions are more severe than the 2010 sanctions authorized by Congress, yet they were imposed without the consent of Congress using emergency powers of the president. There was no emergency. The CIA had confirmed that Iran was not developing nuclear weapons. If Bolton's plan works Iran's economy will collapse, chaos and war will be consequences of the breakdown of the rule of law in the U.S.
He is not my president because he calls democrats criminals and bad people. It's as simple as that. he has chosen to represent a minority of bellicose Americans and rebuff the rest of us. His "values" (does he have any?) are not my values.
Democrats are voting for state attorneys General who are democrats, just as republicans vote for republicans. Who state AGs choose to prosecute is up to their prosecutorial discretion.
The reason for “not my president” is that he lost the popular vote and - whether he was involved or not - there was foreign interference on social media which undoubtedly helped him. Ironic that Donald started talking about fake news when in fact he benefited from it.
You wrote “Progressives are loudly trying to stack the judicial benches...” Maybe you didn’t notice, but we have a Republican President and a Republican Senate. Your statement is quite simply not possible. And if you’re referring to states, the majority of US states have Republican governors and legislatures so how exactly are “Progressives” stacking the courts? You’re turned around 180 degrees.
Ha; great question.
Democracy, what exactly is it? Well, we should be well informed and compassionate citizens that want to help the greater good. None of this is about selfish gain or what's in it 'for me'.
No, the idea of 'We the People' is inclusive and communal. That's why this capitalist nation, with robber-barons and their lack lobbyists and lawyers, politicians and judges, is so destructive to the idea of belonging in a community. the idea of equality, the prayer of compassion.
We are so afraid of the future of robots and virtual intelligence and aging populations; so afraid of the billionaires rise into the oligarchy of autocracy, so fearful of our fall from the dream of a good and comfortable middle class life, that all bets are off.
The folks that tell you who will be elected 15 months before? Wha? Crazy. We have no idea.
The climate, the weather, the seas rise. The fight for a decent life, whether the yellow vests in France or the protesters in Hong Kong. The rising opposition is here. Rejoice. Let us fight for love over the criminal love of money. All countries. All people.
Not Trump, not Bibi - the People.
"Let us fight for love over the criminal love of money."
Gobs of money will keep this mess from getting much much worse or it won’t and just go away from this planet forever either way. Money must be modestly shared among all or cease to exist along with all who crave it. It's only something if you give it away, like love.
We seem to assume that democracy is too strong to succumb to the corruption of one man or a supine party of enablers. But this has been the rule more than the exception throughout history. This was known by the ancient Greeks. And yet we mythologize and remake our own history as the exceptional democracy that can survive as long as half of us vote every other presidential election and excuse our ignorance of current events as not wanting to sully ourselves with matters that are not relevant to our mundane lives.
What is wrong with us humans? These are features of humanity. Not a bug. Democracy is fragile, hard, and demanding. None of those things appeal.
@Alan The political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term inverted totalitarianism in 2003 to describe what he saw as the emerging form of government of the United States. McCall
Elections have consequences ...
I truly do not know why you would think Trump or Kushner would be upset about the failure of a/the two state solution. If such a solution exists anymore, and it is a big IF, I doubt that either Kushner orTrump are particularly concerned. Jared's presentation in Bahrain, at which there was no Palestinian representation, made little mention of how to ensure an equitable division of land or power. His ideas had everything to do with phantom economic benefits that would supposedly accrue to the Palestinians eventually, but would more likely provide economic benefit to the US and its mideast allies in at least the short term and likely longer than that. Any political solution was to be presented at some later date as yet unknown. And if you are looking for a bridge, I am sure I can find one to sell you...
@Barbara There was no representation of Palestinians because Fatah refused to send any. Those few businesses people that did go were arrested
In one major respect at least, the right wing in Israel is no different from that in the US, or anywhere else for that matter. The right is contemptuous of democratic governance or for the constitutional traditions and institutions upon which any viable democracy must rest.
If Netanyahu wins in August, or Trump in 2020, citizens committed to a rules-based democracy with the guarantee of judicial equity and accountability can kiss their political hopes good-bye.
This isn't a tough call at all! Israel is going reactionary-right anyway, and doesn't remotely have the international clout that the U.S. does. America's hard-right lurch puts this country on a knife-edge tipping point, and if it falls further to the right, we're just done for--and the global order will suffer mightily.
That means that a second Trump term would be disastrous in a way that Netanyahu's continuation just will not approach in gravity.
The progressive left in the United States knows what it has to do--but will they do it? Many are the signs of intransigence and refusal to compromise among Democrats, so the unthinkable may happen, building on the unimaginable swerve of 2016.
@Robert " Israel is going reactionary-right anyway, and doesn't remotely have the international clout that the U.S. does." Netanyahu has played Jarod and Trump just like the Saudi's, giving them both the clout they need.
No, it's NOT a "tough one". Trump leads a country of over 300 million, for starters, not to mention the infinite number of other factors making a comparison between the countries both men lead utterly incomparable. Of course they're both ANTI-DEMOCRATIC and both have done untold damage to their respective countries but that's where the genuine comparisons stop.
I’m sorry to say that Netanyahu is invincible right now, which is today the best example of why governments need term limits.
Two reasons he’s invincible: security and the economy.
On security, he has contained Hamas and other terror groups; he is cooperating effectively with the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank is relatively quite; Hezbollah is unheard from; he is standing his ground against Iran; he is friendly with Trump, who has rewarded him with the embassy move and recognition of annexation to the Golan.
The economy is booming; shore drilling for natural gas has been a huge success; Israel is not only energy independent, but has a huge surplus; and the tech and medical industries are exploding (no, not literally).
The Palestinian issue is not nearly as important to Israelis as it is to Jews in America - as for example, championed by Tom Friedman. Most Israelis, and Palestinians for that matter, do not see the two state solution as a reality in the near term, and have stopped thinking about it.
The primary issues for Israelis today are security and the economy, and with things going so well on both fronts, how can he lose?
Will this blessed state continue? Economies are more complicated than what Trump assumes it to be? Who will pay for the deficits created by his tax cuts? American aid will shrink and Israel may not have a great economy anymore.
@Steven Roth, No Bibi has not contained Hamas. Just ask Israelis who live in close proximity to the Gaza border. Most are farming communities who are experiencing the daily onslaught of incendiary devices burning their fields, hot-houses, and crops. Bibi has done nothing for them. He rewards Hamas by allowing Qatari money to pass through Israel right into the hands of Hamas. As for the booming economy, very much like the American GOP it rewards the few, with his cronies reaping the rewards of his many corrupt sweetheart deals. This is at the heart of what he stands indicted for. Most Israelis struggle with the high cost of living, with no end in sight.
@Steven Roth One has to wonder, then, why we continue to give Israel $3 - $6 Billion every year when they have such a strong economy and such good security. I know some kids on our southern border that could us a bit of that money, or how about a little for our infrastructure. Instead we are shamed by the strongest lobby in Washington into giving poor Israel all this money to protect them from so many hostile neighbors.
The headline doesn't fit the column, since Friedman focuses almost exclusively on Netanyahu. Only in the last sentence does he suggest a comparison between the two politicians.
But we already know enough about Trump to make the comparison ourselves. Rather than ranking these two men on a scale of awfulness, however, it seems more fruitful to analyze their similarities. The most important likeness, and the one that explains the others, stems from their indifference to the welfare of the political system that sustains a free society in their respective countries.
Neither man respects the rule of law when it threatens his own interests. Netanyahu wants to strip the supreme court of its ability to judge him, while Trump seeks to convert the department of justice into his personal law firm. Trump relies on the corruption of the Republican party to protect him from the other judicial threat, impeachment and removal from office by congress. Netanyahu hopes to create a coalition in the Knesset that will enact laws to protect him from corruption charges.
For both men, the danger their behavior poses to democracy ranks in importance below their own political survival. Amoral politicians concerned only with their own interests threaten a free society the way termites endanger a house. In both cases, the risk can be contained, but no eliminated.
"... if Bibi wins, the Trump peace plan is dead on arrival."
By the above statement, Mr. Friedman is suggesting that Mr. Kushner may come up with a plan to "address" the 70 year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would be unacceptable to Mr. Netanyahu (or his coalition); hence it would be "dead on arrival." Either Mr. Friedman's sense of humor is getting rusty or he has been watching too much FOX News.
Mr. Friedman knows and clearly understands the nature of the relationship existing between Mr. Kushner's family and Mr. Netanyahu's. He knows that when Mr. Netanyahu visits Mr. Kushner's parents, he sleeps in Mr. Kushner's bed. In the context of Israeli culture, that is tantamount to saying that Mr. Netanyahu is viewed as an uncle or older brother to the young Mr. Kushner.
Then it would be completely inappropriate for Mr. Kushner to draw up a "peace plan" without consulting Mr. Netanyahu and without fully reflecting his views on how to achieve peace. In that case, there can be no reason for Mr. Netanyahu to find Mr. Kushner's plan unacceptable.
@Eddie B. However, the Israelis were silent during the sad show of Prince Jared staged to garner support for his $50BN initiative.
I began wondering myself a couple of weeks ago.
Yes, it is a tough one!
Everything Friedman writes is true, but it completely bypasses the reasoning of those who will vote for Netanyahu: The economy has never been better and Israelis have never been safer.
Helping the Palestinians and preserving the independence of the Supreme Court may be the main issue for progressive American Jews, but it is not how most Israelis will vote.
Trump and Bibi are very skilled in manipulating the darkest political forces in their respective societies. Fear and identity are powerful motivators, and both are willing to put a match a very incendiary cocktail.
As an American, I have no control over who wins in Israel, nor can I control its West Bank policies. I wish I could stop contributing my tax dollars to that government, but my so-called US Congress seems more interested in the wellbeing of Israel than it is that of the US.
My main concern right now is helping rid the US of the Trump Criminal Organization’s, control over the Executive Branch. We barely have a functioning republic, with the Don issuing executive orders on every issue on which he can’t get s law to govern it.
At what point did we eliminate rule-of-law, anyway? I must have missed that memo.
But Don’s executive orders don’t always sell. Lately the Dem candidates are saying they are going to govern with EO’s. If they don’t get gun control legislation in 100 days they will do it with EO. If this doesn’t happen they will issue another one. It doesn’t matter, he is a shoo in.
This one is powerful, Mr.Friedman at his very best. Difficult case to make against, as a rule. And I really do not want to get into the argument on Bibi or Trump. I like them both, despite of themselves!!!
A brief aside: I have been reading for the third time A Safe Haven (Radosh & Radosh), book on the subject of creation of state of Israel. Every time, I find things I missed. What we take for granted today, even perfunctory, the creation of state of Israel, not actually so. That Balfour declaration was just that, a declaration. And some little bits.
Palestinian side of equation today is not much, if at all any, different then what it was in 1946-47. It cannot and should not be part of this discussion on Bibi and Trump and democracy or such. Then they rejected giving the Jews mere 1200 sq miles, they rejected cantonization, they rejected partition. Not sure what gives Mr.Friedman hope considering Arafat rejected 97% of what they asked fifty years later. To bring Palestine into this discussion is a red herring.
To frame this issue in terms of Netanyahu corruption (no argument there) when we know the failure to form a new government is solely due intransigence by the Orthodox Jews on the issue of conscription, smells.
In my view, directly opposite of Mr.Friedman's, the mirage of peace in Region Palestine is just that, a mirage. I don't don rose colored glasses. Peace will come when one side is victorious. I hope its Israel.
The only path to peace is a single state, secular with equal rights for all including of course, vote.
@ParagAdalja Palestine in any discussion on Israel can never be described as a 'red herring'. Yes the Palestinians have rejected much 'offered' by the Jews and their supporters over the years and yes, nothing is different in their thinking since 1946/47 when the state of Israel was about to be imposed upon the region. Your hope for Israeli 'victory' neatly summarises the hypocrisy of American and Israeli democracy.
@ParagAdalja And you call that Peace ?
It seems it is rather hypocrisy for war .
As a relatively new (7 months) American- Israeli I live in Tel Aviv-Yafo. In the US. People talk about diversity but here there actually is diversity. I teach in a local school servicing children from many countries races and religions and my grandchildren attend a similar school not far away. The educated people that I know don’t like Bibi or Trump.
However, there are now many Israelis who came from totalitarian states led by strongmen. There are also many from France who have current first hand experience with antisemitism which I’ve never known. They know fear and they know one man rule and they’ll take the second to give up the first. A very bad situation.
Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman is neglecting to recognize or to mention the drastic changes in the Israeli electorate psyche. This is now the most religious, fanatic, paranoid, living in denial Israeli nation in its 70 years history. Even the language itself has changed to that direction, the common expressions. It's more and more becoming the Jewish Iran. And the USA, being the most religious Christian country in the west, is not that far behind from becoming the Christian Iran.
@Johan Cruyff An interesting analogy to suggest that Israel could become a Jewish "Iran" and the U.S. a Christian "Iran" rather than a Jewish "Saudi Arabia" and the U.S. a Christian "Saudi Arabia". Iran has a multi-party political system and holds competitive elections unlike Saudi Arabia that holds no elections and has no tolerance for religious diversity. Jews in Iran have a guaranteed seat in the parliament. The "Bibi" Israel would apparently guarantee nothing to Palestinians and be more of a Jewish "Saudi Arabia" than a Jewish "Iran".
@Johan Cruyff Are you the footballer? Anyway, Israel has moved to right. The main reasons for that are the intifada which followed the Oslo Accords and Hamas repeatedly firing rockets into Israel after Israel withdraw from Gaza. I'd like to see Bibi defeated in the next election, but the PA needs a real leader, not the corrupt Abbas. Salam Fayyad was good, but he was pushed out. And there's the problem of the terrorist group Hamas, which controls Gaza.
You actually think Iran has a real multi party competitive election? And the Jewish member of Parliament is free to express his opinion?
Well, I own a bridge in Brooklyn I'll sell you.
Yes Yes - Familiar ring indeed! What I was thinking as I was reading through the whole article. Thanks for asking!