Lessons from the Israeli Election are stark
Benjamin Netanyahu won an election very few expected him to win. Tactics he used should open the eyes of many as Israel is upheld as the model democracy in the Middle East.
Jon Stewart did a masterful job in inferring a very bad lesson that was likely learned by some on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s big win. His satire hit a nerve because he effectively noted that Netanyahu one upped America’s own racist politics. Unfortunately what Netanyahu did to win was being telegraphed throughout Election Day for Right Wing politicians in the US and throughout the world to see.
The US news media played up Benjamin Netanyahu’s win as if he was running against Obama. “Last night Benjamin Netanyahu apparently defeated Barack Obama and the Palestinians,” Jon Stewart said. “Finally Republicans found a Conservative that could defeat Obama.”
Stewart mocked all the news channels that were hyperventilating because President Obama ‘had not conceded’ or called Netanyahu to congratulate him on his victory. “You find it interesting that a foreign country’s prime minister who came to Congress against the White House’s wishes to shit on a nuclear deal the President spent years working on wouldn’t receive an immediate post-election ‘ad a boy’ ,” Jon Stewart asked. “Maybe the President is in shock. You know a lot of people didn’t think Netanyahu was going to win this one.”
Stewart showed clips showing that like in America most people were concerned about economic issues and the failure of current economic policies. “Wow did Netanyahu sway the voter’s,” Jon Stewart asked. “Economic stimulus package, tax reforms, housing subsidies?” Of course not.
Netanyahu changed the subject effectively. Netanyahu decided to go full Right. He appealed to the most inner fears of Israelis. He made Israeli Arabs scapegoats. He followed the modus operandi that Republicans used in several states. Fear those others. “How dear you,” Jon Stewart asked. “How dear you gin up racist fears of minority turnout for short term political gain. That is our thing!”
Benjamin Netanyahu learned well from our Right Wing politics. But Stewart pointed out something a bit more sinister. He used Mitt Romney’s 47% comment to illustrate what Netanyahu really learned from American politics. He learned that if you are going to go against a people that are not a majority and that some may fear, you must double down with conviction. Force the human carnality of fear to emerge from the voters you need. In other words as Stewart said, “Go in or go home!”
The similarities between the Israeli Right and the American Right are more than subtle. A racist tenet is existential for their survival as their core beliefs are anathema across all groups. It is a smoke and mirrors game in which they must gin up a threat a composite majority can coalesce around. In Israel it is the Arabs. In America it is the Black, Brown, and immigrant that is taking your job and/or your hard earned dollars.
This is an affront to Democracy for all of us given that it uses a fallacy to elect those that ultimately do not have the best interest of the electors at hand. In Israel it elicits a deeper question. Can a country that is established as a Jewish state really be a Democracy? American political driven racism is more about a Party keeping power. Black, Brown, and other minorities can integrate themselves into the American Right. In fact many have.
A Jewish state seems anathema to a Democratic state for anyone but Jews. When one speaks about the unbreakable bond between Israel and America one must understand that it is an implicit acknowledgement that it has little to do with Democracy and instead all to do with the projection of America’s economic system. We overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran and installed the Shah. We ‘attempted’ to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected Hugo Chavez and we are attempting to overthrow their newly elected leader Nicolas Maduro in an attempt to reconstitute a government run by the Venezuelan plutocracy.
The lessons from the Israeli election are stark. Our reaction to the election are starker.