So we’ve just begun a new secular year. What I like about that is that it gives me an excuse to think deep spiritual thoughts, try to make some larger point about looking back at the old year and looking forward to the new year without having to be concerned about getting High Holiday synagogue tickets and how I’m going to make it through a 25 hour fast.
But before I get to my big thought, I would just like to make note that while some of us may already be focusing on the big election coming up in 2020, as Jews, we have to first concern ourselves with the election of 2019.
Yes, on April 9 of this new year, Israelis will go to the polls to elect a prime minister. I will save for another time why I think all Jews the world over should be allowed to vote in the election. For now, I would just like to point out a few things.
First that it was on Nov. 18 of the old year that Israel’s current prime minister, one Bibi, went on national TV to tell his country why it would be a huge mistake to hold an election before its scheduled Nov. 2019 time.
What he said back less than two months ago was that going to early elections would be “irresponsible.” He noted that “We are in the midst of a battle, and in the middle of a battle we don’t abandon our posts. In the middle of a battle, we do not play politics. The security of the nation is beyond politics, and the security of the nation is also beyond personal considerations.”
And then about a month later, on Dec. 24, he announced that, guess what, he was calling for early elections. What was irresponsible a month before was now the way to go. That’s a Trumpian grade switcheroo.
So what happened? Well, the man who said the security of the nation is beyond personal considerations, realized that Israel’s attorney general was planning sometime in February to announce whether he was going indict Netanyahu in one, two, or all three of the criminal cases against him. The police have recommended Netanyahu be charged with bribery, breach of trust and other corruption charges in all three cases.
By calling an election now, Bibi knew that the attorney general, not wanting to be seen to be interfering with or influencing the vote, would have to delay any indictments. And if Bibi wins the April election, that would give Netanyahu ammunition to fight a potential indictment, said Hebrew University political analyst Reuven Hazan.
“He wants to win. He wants to turn around to the attorney general and say, ‘before you decide to prosecute me, pay attention. The people of Israel have reelected me … You cannot overturn the results of a democratic election.’”
So that’s why what was irresponsible in November was just fine in December and why Israel is having an election in April. Since Bibi announced the snap election, we’ve seen what some might call Israeli democracy and some might call Israeli political insanity in full flower.
We’ve had the two politicians who founded the right wing Jewish Home party announce that they were leaving the party to form their own new right wing party, but that after the election, they would join their new party with their old party to increase their bargaining leverage when a new government is formed. We had a former chief of staff of the army announce he was starting his own new party, which put into doubt the plans of another former chief of staff to start his own new party. That second former chief of staff, by the way, a former member of Bibi’s Likud party, was stabbed in the back by Bibi a few months ago, when Bibi abruptly fired him as defense minister so he could appoint a totally unqualified head of another party as defense minister because Bibi had only a one seat majority in the Knesset and by giving the prize of defense minister to this unqualified guy he increased that majority to seven.
Ironically, what led Bibi to give his speech in November about the dangers of early elections is that that unqualified guy abruptly quit as defense minister to increase his appeal with the right wing, thus once again reducing Bibi’s coalition to a one seat majority.
As a result, Bibi, who was already serving as prime minister, foreign minister, health minister and immigrant absorption minister, has also been serving as defense minister. One of the reasons one of the heads of the Jewish Home party is now trying to take right wing votes away from Bibi by forming his own new party is that Bibi refused to appoint him as defense minister. Now, Bibi is accusing him of dealing a ‘fatal blow’ to the right wing with his new party, even though the same guy was part of his Cabinet until a few days ago.
Meanwhile, showing that it’s not just the right wing giving itself fatal blows by arguing and betraying within, the leading left wing party, Zionist Union, abruptly split into two, with one of the heads, out of nowhere, kicking out the other head of the party, without giving her any advance notice before making the announcement and without giving anyone in his party advance notice.
So the next time you worry about the Democrats having too many candidates running in 2020, just take a gander at the party splitting, backstabbing and game playing going on in Israel where the next election is not two years away but only three months away.
Okay, now let me get to my secular new year big thought. And that is that as we enter the new year I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about Megyn Kelly and Les Moonves.
What is it with people, myself included? Why are we never satisfied with what we have, why can we not be grateful for what we have, why do we always focus on what we don’t have, convince ourselves that things can always be better. Why do we do it?
Megyn Kelly was the queen of Fox News. She had a nightly prime time show that got huge ratings, she was much respected for her interviewing skills. Her bosses at Fox wanted to give her a four year $100 million new contract. Her show was perfect for her and she was great at doing what she did.
But it wasn’t enough, she wasn’t satisfied, thought there was something out there that would be better, bring her I don’t know what, more fame or money, though she had plenty of both, would fill something missing in her life, though she seemed to have everything anyone could dream of.
And so instead of reupping at Fox and continuing to do what she was so good at, she quit, went to NBC News to do a morning show for which she was ill suited, at which she alienated lots of people, got lousy reviews and lousy ratings. And after about a year, she was very unceremoniously fired. And now Fox has said they don’t want her back.
She had so much and yet it wasn’t enough. She was good at what she did but she convinced herself she was meant for greater things. She was at the top cable network but felt she needed to be at a broadcast network. She was good at doing political interviews, but was so full of herself she thought she would be great doing a breakfast show that calls for all kinds of other skills. She had the perfect personality for prime time, not so much for morning but she thought she could do anything, could do everything.
Why. Why couldn’t she have been satisfied with, grateful for what she had? Why could she not see all the blessings she had, the gifts she had been given, why did she not have the humility to understand she was the perfect fit for an interview show on a conservative network but not so much for a morning show on a broadcast network.
I think there is Megyn Kelly in all of us, and so she inspires my message for this secular new year. Be thankful for what you have, be aware of what your limitations are, be satisfied when things are going well and don’t always feel they can and should be better or different.
I think too of Les Moonves, the former head of CBS and a Jew. One of the most successful TV executives of all time, a genius at programing, he lost it all, his job, his reputation, his dignity, because he couldn’t be a mensch, felt it his right to use his power to sexually abuse women, to feel that because of who he was, he was entitled to unzip his pants, and show innocent unsuspecting women his bris, felt entitled to use them as his sexual playthings.
He had it all, power, fame, money, and he threw it all away for a few minutes of tawdry nauseating so called physical pleasure. Why, why did he do it, how did he not realize all he was jeopardizing, how what it took 40 years to build could be destroyed in 10 minutes, did he not see how disgusting his behavior was, that someone who would have gone down in TV history as one of the most successful executives ever will now be remembered as a total creep.
Did he never think of how his behavior would reflect on the Jewish people? Did he never think he was a relative of David Ben-Gurion’s wife? Was he not grateful for all the gifts of talent and fame and money G-d had given him? Why wasn’t all that enough. Why was he not able to see how blessed he was and instead chose to act like a pervert.
No, most of us don’t have the power and fame and money and position of Megyn or Les, but I think many of us, myself included, are always wanting things to be different, “better,” are not satisfied with our lot, not grateful enough, not thankful enough, are not honest and humble enough with ourselves to recognize the abilities G-d has given us and be satisfied to use them constructively instead of always trying to be what we were not meant to be, have what we were not meant to have, why do we not see all that we do have.
As the new secular year 2019 begins and as resolutions are made, we might all want to remember the examples of Megyn and Les and be more aware of all the many blessings G-d has given and continues to give us, to be appreciative and thankful for them all, to be satisfied with our portion and to focus on being the best of who we are meant to be, live up to the ideals of what Judaism teaches us a mensch should be.