Like many Americans, I tend to focus on domestic issues, both national and local. America produces more than enough fodder to keep bloggers like me busy. But the fear and hysteria propelling the ever-more-radical Right isn’t confined to our shores.
Trumpism was accompanied by Brexit in England, powered by the same mix of anti-immigrant bias, racism and misinformation (aka blatant lying) that (barely) put TFG in the White House.
The reporting in the run-up to recent elections in Spain was filled with warnings about the strength of that country’s emergent Rightwing–fortunately, as it turned out, not strong enough to win control outright, but the Right’s strongest showing since Franco.
In just the past few weeks, Putin’s Russia has continued emulating America’s far-Right states, passing laws that target LGBTQ people–especially but certainly not exclusively trans Russians.
I needn’t report what is going on in Afghanistan, or Iran, where women are special targets of their governments’ return to religious fundamentalism.
And then there’s Israel, where Netanyahu’s far-Right coalition has rammed through a frontal assault on that country’s Supreme Court, and plunged Israel into a crisis that has fractured civic society and threatened the country’s security.
For months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warned of the consequences. He was strongly urged to negotiate a deal over the proposal to emasculate the Israeli Supreme Court, a misguided power grab advanced by his far-right coalition. On Monday, the first part of the legislation was approved by the Knesset. It appears Mr. Netanyahu went over a cliff. What now?
Mr. Netanyahu and his coalition have ignited a political crisis of immense proportions, perhaps the most consequential in Israel’s history. Massive protests against the judicial reform have filled Israel’s streets for months, and the vote brought open resistance from not only Israel’s progressive and secular Jews but also other bastions of the establishment.
Large businesses and unions are planning strikes and closures. A former head of Israel’s security service, the Shin Bet, was among those on the streets protesting after the vote. Nadav Argaman said he came to “mark the end” of Mr. Netanyahu’s rule. “Bibi has a coalition, but he doesn’t have the people. He’s lost the people,” he said. A letter signed by more than 1,100 air force reserve officers declared, “The legislation, which allows the government to act in an extremely unreasonable manner, will harm the security of the State of Israel, will break the trust and violate our consent to continue risking our lives — and will very sadly leave us with no choice but to refrain from volunteering for reserve duty.” Dozens of former top security officials — including former heads of the Israel Defense Forces, Mossad and Shin Bet — sent a letter declaring, “The legislation is shattering the common foundation of Israeli society, tearing the people apart, dismantling the IDF and causing grievous harm to Israel’s security.”
Messy–unlike in the US, where the Right has managed to take over state-level courts while staying under the radar…
Unless reversed, these moves by a government that is by far the most radical in Israel’s history will shatter what has always been a special bond between the US and Israel. That bond rests on what was seen as a common approach to democracy and the rule of law. During Netanyahu’s “reign” (I use the word advisedly, as he has always been an autocrat), it has become more and more difficult for American Jews and pro-Israeli politicians to support Israeli tactics and ignore its mistreatment of the Palestinians.
As the Post–along with several Israeli newspapers–has warned, Netanyahu’s actions endanger Israel’s security, further splinter an already badly divided body politic and add to the strain on Israel’s relationship with the United States.
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the entire globe is enmeshed in a complicated cold civil war. This one lacks geographical boundaries; instead, it’s a war between the people in every country who welcome social change and understand–however dimly– that the tribalism of the past impoverishes everyone, and a frantic minority clinging to comforting verities and the privileges they fear losing.
Cunning power-seekers like Netanyahu and TFG manipulate the fears and feed the bigotries of that latter group.
Here in Indiana, we joke about our pathetic legislature. Facebook posts frequently show some version of “Entering Indiana and 1950” signs. But fear of modernity and civic equality isn’t limited to Indiana. In fact, if there is any lesson to be gleaned from these worldwide struggles, it is that every group–every tribe–has its fundamentalists and those George W. Bush dubbed “evil-doers,” as well as good people who just want to live in civic peace and obey the rule of law.
I sure hope the good guys win….