Critical condition

Joseph Aaron

I’ve got to get a few things off my chest.

First is this constant insanity I hear from those on the right wing of the political spectrum that I and indeed nobody has the right to criticize anything Trump or Netanyahu do or say.

They feel that with Trump because he moved the embassy to Jerusalem and killed the Iran deal and so they believe we should overlook everything else, his lying and his name calling and his violating the constitution with fake declarations of national emergency and his delusionary belief that he has actually built the wall he just needs to finish it.

And they feel that especially with Netanyahu because he is on their side about doing nothing to promote a peace process with the Palestinians, loves sabre rattling about Iran. And because they see themselves as the ultimate Zionists, the supreme Jewish patriots, they say those of us in the diaspora have no right to criticize Israel ever about anything.

I’m not going to waste my time explaining about holding politicians accountable, freedom of speech, the nature of democracy, since I know those are concepts they simply don’t care about. After all, the patron saint of the right wing, Sheldon Adelson, famously said he didn’t care if Israel remains a democracy as long as it doesn’t give up one inch of land to the Palestinians.

And so, I would like to ask those on the right this question. If you feel Jews have no right to criticize an Israeli prime minister, please explain your behavior when Yitzhak Rabin was the prime minister of Israel. Did you refrain from criticizing him and his policies, did you show unflinching support for him as the leader of the Jewish nation, did you back him all the way all the time about all he did?

I mean that’s what you ask those who don’t like Bibi to do. Keep our mouths shut, how dare we criticize, it is our job to back the Israeli prime minister, to never say anything negative about the Israeli government.

But you didn’t act that way with Rabin, did you? No, you will say, of course not, since his policies were a danger to the state, it was our duty to speak up, the well-being of Israel was at stake.

See that’s the thing. It’s not that those on the right really believe it is our job to back the prime minister of Israel, no matter what. For if they truly did, they would have acted toward Rabin and Peres and Barak as they do with Bibi. No, what they are saying is we all have to unflinchingly support everything a prime minister does when it’s a prime minister who agrees with them, does what they want done. And so I get baloney from right wingers for my criticisms of Netanyahu, from the very same right wingers who called Rabin every name in the book, including Nazi and traitor.

Bottom line is they are total hypocrites. They say Jews must back Trump, our president. But how did they act when Obama was president. Did they back him all the way, respect him as our president. Evidently that only applies if they agree with the president. They didn’t like some of what Obama said and so they vilified him, even as he gave Israel Iron Dome, even as he agreed to give Israel the largest aid package in American history, even as he negotiated an Iran deal that made Israel safer.

So I’m sick of hearing I criticize Bibi too much, criticize Trump too much. I do so because I love Israel and I love this country and I believe those two jokers are seriously eroding the values of each country, endangering the democracy of each, threatening the long term security of each. So please spare me the hypocrisy of saying it’s not right to criticize Israel or its leader when what you actually mean is it’s not right only when you like what he’s doing.

Speaking of Trump and Netanyahu, I am now totally convinced they are either identical twins or clones.

Just look at the facts. They have the exact same body shape. They each have had three wives. They each have a weird relationship with their eldest daughters. Trump has said if Ivanka wasn’t his kid, he’d be dating her. All you fathers of girls out there – would you ever say or think such a thing? Netanyahu actually did not list his daughter as one of his children on his official website. Why? Because she’s ultra-Orthodox and lives in Meah Shearim. This the guy who the ultra-Orthodox love.

Anyway, back to my twins/clones theory. They both have eldest sons who are complete doofuses, say not the darndest things but the stupidest, ugliest things. They both are under multiple criminal investigations. They both call those investigations ‘witch hunts’ and both accuse their country’s law enforcement officials of being corrupt and out to get them. They both hate the media and call it ‘fake news.’ They both love and make kissy face with dictators, Trump with Russian’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan and North Korea’s Kim, Netanyahu with Hungary’s Orban and Philippines’ Duterte and Brazil’s Bolsonaro. Both have worked hard to defend and cover up for the murderous Saudi crown prince. Both have done all they could to kill the peace process. I could keep going, but it all adds up to the fact that these two guys are either brothers from different mothers or are clones, the work of some crazy scientist.

Another similarity is that both have left critical positions unfilled or filled with those holding the title of ‘acting.’ Trump has an acting chief of staff, an acting secretary of defense, an acting head of the EPA, and more. Israel has, since 2015, not had a foreign minister, has not had a defense minister for about a year, has not had a health minister for many years.

Without going into the legalities of it, a court in Israel recently ordered Bibi to name a foreign minister. Of course, Bibi, ala Trump, only named someone as ‘acting’ foreign minister. Bad enough, but much worse is who he named. He named Yisrael Katz who has been his transportation minister. Yes, the guy in charge of buses and trains is now Israel’s top diplomat, its representative to the world.

Katz proved just how unqualified and unfit for the office he is on his very first day on the job. Naming unqualified and unfit people to office, hmm, sounds familiar as in Trump naming Matt Whitaker, a Mr. Clean lookalike, to be attorney general.

Here’s how it went. Bibi had just been in Poland meeting with dozens of other heads of state at a Middle East peace conference. And Bibi was about to host the prime minister of Poland, along with the heads of three other central European countries, at a conference in Israel. The annual “V4” summit was going to be held in Jerusalem — the first time the bloc of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had met outside Europe.

Now you don’t have to be Henry Kissinger to understand when you have just been in Poland and are about to welcome the prime minister of Poland to Israel, the diplomatic thing not to do is insult Poland.

And yet that’s exactly what Israel’s new acting foreign minister did. Katz made a statement in which he quoted a former Israeli prime minister as saying that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism from their mother’s breast.”

Well, guess what. Poland’s prime minister said he wouldn’t be attending that conference in Jerusalem as a result of those words, which resulted in the cancellation of the summit, Poland’s ambassador to Israel saying, “It is really astonishing that the newly appointed foreign minister of Israel quotes such a shameful and racist remark.” 

And not only did Katz offend Polish officials, he also managed to offend Polish Jews. The Union of Jewish Communities in Poland responded harshly to Katz’s words, saying in a statement that “accusing all Poles of anti-Semitism offends the Righteous; it also offends all those who today want to see in them the true representation of Polish society. And it also offends us, Polish Jews, who are a part of that society.” Even the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff, a harsh critic of Poland’s attempts to quash its complicated historical record, called what Katz said “the kind of blanket generalization that should never be made.”

Way to go, Bibi. You wait four years to appoint someone foreign minister and then when you are forced to, that someone alienates one of the most important countries in Europe with a stupid remark causing the cancellation of an important summit in Jerusalem.  

When things like this happen, yes, I think criticism is called for. Getting back to where we started, I want to quote something Tzipi Livni just said that I think it’s important to hear, as much as right wingers prefer to stifle such things. Livni is a veteran Israeli politician, a former Mossad agent, a former member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, someone who has devoted her life, risked her life in the service of Israel.

In announcing her retirement from politics, she said this about Bibi. “Netanyahu is attacking the media, law enforcement and the judicial system. If he is not stopped, it would be the end of democracy in Israel. The last years have been tough, peace has become a dirty word, democracy is under attack, and having a different political position has become a curse… The one in charge is trying to take over the justice system while he attacks the media and law enforcement.”

I quote her because she knows what she’s talking about but also because I know all the right wingers will dismiss her words, saying she’s a loser, is bitter, is dropping out because she has no chance in the upcoming elections.

That’s what they do. When they like someone, they insist all of us must not criticize them. But when they don’t like someone, even if she’s a former Mossad agent, a former justice minister and foreign minister and top Likud leader, they savage them.

But what Livni said should be listened to. And I, for one, plan to continue to criticize any politician, even Bibi and Trump, if they act in ways detrimental to the well-being of my beloved Israel and my beloved United States. That, my right wing friends, is how democracy and authentic Judaism, concepts you don’t understand, work.

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