As you know, there is an election in Israel today –a depressingly uninspired cast is vying for the opportunity to “sit down” with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
I’ve been following the buildup in the Israeli press –readers of this blog will know that I monitor (intermittently: they don’t make it too easy to read them) two newspapers, The Jerusalem Post (rightwing) and Ha’aretz (leftwing).
I thought you might like the following quote: I just came across this description of the current brand of politics in Israel by the American historian, Richard Hofstadter. He calls it “a paranoid style of politics: overheated, over-suspicious, over-aggressive and grandiose.”
The JP observes: “Only a combination of structural reforms accompanied by elite responsibility and a renewed commitment to civic virtue can mend the system and give us elections that produce what Israel urgently needs: governments with a mandate and a capacity to lead.”
I’ve never seen Israel so far removed from sanity, justice, reasonableness –it is an great embarrassment even for many people who regard themselves as Friends of Israel.
One day when the war in Gaza was in the middle of wreaking chaos and destruction in that unfortunate city, with its unfortunate citizenry –over a thousand of whom died in the IDF’s so-called surgical strike– I looked at the front page of the Jerusalem Post.
And what did I see? Nothing of the wasteland of damage in Gaza that we saw elsewhere! That –according to the good folks at The Jerusalem Post, was not news.
No –what I saw was a picture of that One House in Sderot –you know, the one that the Hamas rocket hit? Yes –it was TERRIBLE! TERRIBLE beyond words. You could see the blue sky through a hole in the roof, a wall knocked down, some beams askew, along with some other damage….
I think I saw that hole in that roof in at least a dozen pictures. But –nothing of a blitzed Gaza, with block after block after block of delapidated devastation. And the dead piling up.
But what really did it for me, was an opinion piece I read in the JPost the same day, by David Sternberg (I think I have that name right by memory: JP readers familiar with the piece, please correct me if I’M wrong.)
You may know that there is a big issue about the use of White Phosphorus in the war by the Israelis. Though it is illegal to do so (because of its terrible effects) there were many complaints –by the U.N. among others– that Israel had in fact used White Phosphorus in the war.
David Sternberg was outraged.
To accuse Israel of using White Phosphorus, he said, was just like the Christians accusing The Jews of the infamous Blood Libel of the Middle Ages!
THE BLOOD LIBEL???
Israel, it seems, will not be satisfied until it has alienated all its friends –Jewish as well as non-Jewish. Yes, of course, –I am aware of the justifications that these hardliners use. And I am aware of the view that one hears frequently expressed, that in the final analysis, when the chips are down, Israel is on its own. Israel is without friends. [Brilliant: Alienate everybody; then complain that you have no friends.]
OK, say the neoCons and the other obdurates: “It wouldn’t be the first time that Jews were on their own. We are used to it. Bring it on.”
As Richard Hofstadter put it: “a paranoid style of politics: overheated, over-suspicious, over-aggressive and grandiose.”
Today is Election Day. Can Israel afford to carry on with its paranoid style of politics. Will cooler heads prevail? Or will the victory go to The Grandiose and Overheated, The Over-Suspicious and The Over-Aggressive. ( The Avigdor Liebermans? The Bibi Netanyahus?)