Israeli elections are a movable feast. The fourth round is over, and they already anticipate the fifth, perhaps in August. The Israelis just can’t form a stable government. They’ve got the Italian merry-go-round virus of unstable governments. Italians get a new government at an average of one every thirteen months. The Israeli mutation of the Italian virus has its own peculiarity. The Italians can form a minority government; in Israel, if there is no majority for the government, new elections are automatically called for. Now thirteen parties have entered the parliament, but it will not be easy to make a government coalition based on a parliamentary majority.
Why can’t they form a government? They do not differ much. With few exceptions, Israeli politicians and their parties are of one mold: they are Right or far-Right; strongly nationalist, and neoliberal
–somewhere between the John Birch Society and the KKK. The problem is that the party leaders hate each other, and they don’t want to accept Palestinians even as junior partners in their government. And without Palestinians, none can achieve a parliamentary majority.
The bulk of Palestinians have no Israeli citizenship, like the American Indians had no US citizenship. Still, almost two million Palestinians are citizens of Israel, and are entitled to vote; they make up 20 per cent of all Israeli citizens. Yet they are kept out of the decision-making. In the previous elections, the Palestinian parties joined together and won 15 seats in the Parliament. All pretenders for the office of prime minister refused to accept them as partners, and resigned hereby setting off the new tour of elections. In the most recent elections, the Palestinian vote was divided between (1) Communists and Arab Nationalists who would love to join a leftist government and (2) a conservative Muslim party perfectly willing to join Netanyahu government together with other Jewish religious parties. Even so, right-wing Jews refuse to join with right-wing Arabs, and left-wing Jews refuse to accept left-wing Arabs. The Jews don’t want to sit with goyim around the same table.
They have other self-imposed limitations, too. Some don’t want to sit with religious Jews. Some are of the “Never Netanyahu” persuasion. Once upon a time in Israel there were left-wing and right-wing parties with their own ideologies; now they are divided by one question, namely whether Benjamin Netanyahu, nicknamed Bibi, will be the prime minister again.
Bibi has ruled Israel since 1996 intermittently. During the breaks, he held various top posts. Israeli liberals hate him, just like their American brethren hate Trump. They curse the stupid deplorables who stubbornly continue to vote for Bibi. The well-off and educated Israelis despise Bibi. The Israeli liberals considered the removal of Trump as a cue for them: if Trump was overthrown, now is the time to overthrow Bibi, they thought. But popular vote is not decisive enough.
The Bibi Hate Complaint is an Israeli twin of Trump Derangement Syndrome. At a Passover Seder table, good Israelis called on God to punish Bibi like He punished the Pharaoh, and re-tweeted their curses. They want to get rid of Bibi by fair means (elections) or foul (legal tricks). The judiciary system is in the hands of the liberals, and has been weaponised against Bibi. He certainly is a criminal and deserves to be sentenced for life for his bombing of Gaza and Syria, but Israeli judges are unlikely to consider those actions a crime.
Israel’s judicial system is the most rotten part of the Jewish state. They have sanctioned the use of torture, ethnic cleansing, confiscation of Palestinian lands and homes, the expulsion of Palestinians, and have approved the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon. There was no war crime or crime against humanity committed in Israel that did not receive the approval and blessing of the judiciary. Even for straightforward mass murder, the Israeli court had sentenced the murderer to a fine of ten cents! The courts have declared all the state lands of Palestine to be the property of the Jewish people. They have also allowed the construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands, and the indefinite imprisonment for Palestinian parliamentarians. The judges are as unfair and dishonest as in the US.
The actual charges being brought against Netanyahu are as hollow as those against Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Bibi is accused of accepting gifts – cigars and pink champagne – from Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer (L.A. Confidential), tycoon and spy for Israel. The prosecutor’s office has never been able to prove Bibi did something in return for this unheard-of generosity that he wouldn’t have done unless bribed with bubbly. Another case accused Bibi of trying to make the mass media less hostile to him. If this is a crime, all politicians are criminals!
They want to send Bibi to jail, and any reason will do. Bibi understands this, and stubbornly clings to power. It is one thing to peacefully step down to a well-deserved retirement, and it is another thing to go to prison for several years. Thus, Bibi fights for his freedom, and the only way to do that is to form a government. He passed the first obstacle: the president empowered him to try and gather a coalition. That wasn’t an easy thing: newspapers (as hostile to him as the New York Times is hostile to Trump) tried to persuade the president to give the mandate to somebody else. Now he is almost within reach of forming a new government, but this tantalising almost may still be his undoing. He has to convince the religious Jew, Naphtali Bennett, and religious-conservative Muslim, Mansour Abbas, to join him.
However, there is no real choice for the voters; the potential candidates for the prime minister’s office aren’t all that different. The once all-powerful Israeli Left alliance made up of Social Democrats, immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Russian Empire, strong nationalists like the interregnum Polish socialists of Marshal Pilsudski--- has collapsed. One part of them switched to LGBT support, the other – to the fight against the grammatical gender of possessive pronouns, the third – to the fight against religion and religious Jews. The ‘support of workers and peasants’ has completely disappeared from their agenda, for it’s migrant workers from Thailand who do the peasant work in the Jewish state, while the industrial workers are Ukrainian and Romanian illegal immigrants under the supervision of a Russian guard.
Israel is strongly pro-American, and is likely to remain so. However, Bibi is “friends” with President Putin; he often visits Russia; always ready to ask for a favour; he never does anything in return for Russia, but at least he is not overtly hostile. He never fulfils his promises to Russia. However, the alternative potential prime ministers of Israel are even less sympathetic to Russia.
An interesting new development is the rise of Israeli anti-Semitism. Israeli Socialist Zionists were secular but not really hostile to the Jewish faith and faithful. In a recent piece, Miko Peled has stressed the hostility of early Zionists to contemporary non-Zionist Jews. Though true, that was long time ago. This attitude didn’t survive World War Two. Anti-Jewish Zionism (Jewish self-hate, in Peled’s terms) was built on the rise of German National Socialism; if Hitler were to win the war, perhaps this kind of brutal Nietzschean Zionism would become dominant, as the ideological predecessors of Netanyahu, Yair Stern and Yitzhak Shamir had planned. After Germany’s defeat, the whole discourse of Soil and Blood, of Work as opposed to financial speculations, of devotion to Tradition, had been defeated as well. Zionism had to lower its goals, change its vocabulary, and end its hostility to ordinary Jews, warts and all.
After the Jewish state was established, relations between Orthodox (non-Zionist) Jews and Zionist Israelis became, if not fraternal, then quite tolerant, as between, say, ordinary Americans and Mennonites. Ben Gurion promised and granted them the Status Quo arrangement. It worked, more or less, for over 70 years.
Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party were secular, perhaps mildly anti-clerical, for years; but pugnacious anti-clericalism in Israel had been started by Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the ‘Russian’ party and a sworn enemy of Netanyahu. Moreover, he began as anti-clerical, but very soon he glided into anti-Semitic tropes. Probably he had thought he would tap a whole new reservoir of votes, of right-wing anti-religious Israelis, and undermine Netanyahu who was always friendly to religious Jews. However, his ruse failed when it came to votes. Yair Lapid took the votes of Israelis who felt strongly about religious laws. But Lieberman’s reckless anti-Jewish talk did have an impact.
The Covid crisis has made anti-Semitism fashionable in Israel. The Orthodox Jews rejected the accepted Coronavirus narrative. They kept their synagogues and schools open; they didn’t observe social distancing and the mask regime. All hell broke loose; even polite people spoke of ‘disease-carrying rodents with long whiskers’, of ‘ugly idle Jews’ that didn’t care about public health and ignored the wise rules of the Corona Tsar de jour. It has become so bad, that a leader of Shas, a religious party of Oriental Jews, has lodged a bill against anti-Semitism, something Israel never before contemplated.
Whilst the Covid crisis impacted all mankind, Israel was a leader in dealing with it; at first by severe lockdowns, and then by massive vaccination. Israeli security services were involved all the way. The Mossad foreign intelligence, with its resources and connections, provided the country with sampling sticks and masks; Israeli intelligence officers were stealing the items ordered by other states and intercepting foreign supplies. An application created by the Israeli security forces tracked all movements and contacts; electronic handcuffs, cynically called “freedom bracelets”, similar to those used for house arrest, have been developed and are being used for those who come from abroad. Israel was the first to enter lockdown, and first to make a deal with Pfizer. Bibi has turned the country with its highly computerised medical care records into an experimental laboratory. Pfizer receives detailed information from Israel on how people with different medical conditions respond to the vaccine. For this, Pfizer supplied Israel with a large number of vaccinations, so that most Israeli adults have already been vaccinated, and now the next step is to vaccinate children and babies. Israel has 35 million doses of vaccine, more than enough for its population. That was the time for the two to fell out. Israelis stopped paying, Pfizer stopped deliver ing. Israel had a good reason: Netanyahu promised to pay Pfizer well over the going rate. Such promises are rarely fulfilled and Jews aren’t famous for sticking to such promises. And anyway Israel has a lot of ampules.
Bibi gave royally generous gifts of the vaccine to the countries and leaders he considered useful, but not to the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. He even blocked delivery of Russian vaccine to Gaza. The Orthodox Jews also vaccinated, though much less than the secular population. Anyway, since January the Orthodox Jews have far fewer sick people than any other group. They are still persecuted and ‘when an Orthodox Jew gets on a bus everyone looks at him like he’s a leper’, reported Reuters. This schism will last long, probably as long as Covid-related measures, or even longer.
Despite having a very high vaccination rate, Israel is still in the grips of Corona hysterics. The country has been quarantined for almost a year, with short breaks. The airports have been closed down. Vaccination is practically mandatory. The psychological pressure on the unvaccinated is so strong that very few people can withstand it. Without a Green Pass, the digital proof of vaccination, one can’t visit a restaurant or enter a supermarket. The courts have allowed the firing of employees who refuse vaccination. The vaccinated also get sick with covid and they do spread infection. A new strain has emerged that affects adolescents and young people; masks are required everywhere. As the Green Pass is lodged in smartphones, for the first time ever the government has full, real-time control over the population.
Why did Israel become almost the first country to take Covid so seriously? It is not widely known that Israel is one of the leading countries in the field of bacteriological warfare. The Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona develops deadly bacteria and viruses; there were cases when their effectiveness was tested on Palestinians. We do not know how or where the Covid originated; but the first country affected by Covid (after the outbreak in Wuhan, in China) was Iran, where members of the government fell ill at the same time, with a particularly tough and deadly strain.
Let’s remember that Iran is Israel’s main enemy; Bibi is constantly at war with Iran on all fronts. Dozens of Iranian tankers were blown up by the Israeli saboteurs of Flotilla 13. While the Wall Street Journal reported that a few Iranian tankers had been sabotaged by Israeli frogmen, Israelis were upset and said they sabotaged “dozens”, not just a few. This week they sabotaged the mother ship of the Iranian Navy in the Red Sea. Israeli terrorists kill Iranian scientists and military personnel, Israeli planes bomb pro-Iranian militia bases in Syria. The “choice” of Iran as the first Covid victim makes one wonder whether Israel is, if not behind the creation of Covid, then behind its spread? Ron Unz considered it possible that Covid was a US bioweapon deployed against China. He wrote:
Across the entire world the only political elites that have yet suffered any significant human losses have been those of Iran, and they died at a very early stage, before significant outbreaks had even occurred almost anywhere else in the world outside China. Thus, we have America assassinating Iran’s top military commander on Jan. 2nd and then just a few weeks later large portions of the Iranian ruling elites became infected by a mysterious and deadly new virus, with many of them soon dying as a consequence. Could any rational individual possibly regard this as a mere coincidence?
Indeed it is possible that Israeli biowarriors knew of the virus, knew of its employment in Iran and China (or even deployed it), and were aware of its danger. Would they, Israelis or Americans, use a bioweapon that could drift to their own countries? Ron Unz deals (ibid) with this question at length. He suggests that they could just be hare-brained and vicious enough. Israelis were short-sighted enough to attack an Iranian tanker in such a place and time that the whole Mediterranean shore of Israel was polluted by spilled oil. “Israel Sabotaged Iranian Ship, Caused Massive Oil Spill on Own Shores” reported Israeli-American investigative journalist Richard Silverstein – “The Israeli mine, which was supposed to cause minor damage, actually ripped a hole so big that much of the contents of the ship’s hold leaked into the Mediterranean. This is what caused the Israeli environmental disaster: Israel itself.” If they could be silly enough for that, they are silly enough for anything.
This week, in an extensive, rare interview, Russian top security man Nikolai Patrushev accused the US of developing bioweapons in Fort Detrick, Maryland and in many labs bordering Russia and China. The same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at the press briefing: “According to openly available reports, the US has set up 16 bio-labs in Ukraine alone. Why does it need to build so many labs all over the world? What activities has the US military been conducting in these labs and the base at Fort Detrick? Why does the US stand alone in opposing the establishment of a verification mechanism under the Biological Weapons Convention? Could it be that there are places within these labs and base where the US dare not allow in international verification?” Before the recent ‘Putin killer’ remark, the Russians and Chinese never said anything that offensive to Americans. It is not impossible that Netanyahu had first-hand knowledge of the Covid danger, and for this reason he acted fast as he did.
Will Israel ever tone down its aggression? Yes, if and when the Jews will grant the right to vote and other rights to the Palestinians living under Jewish rule. Will this happen in our lifetime? How long will the world put up with apartheid? It’s hard to predict. Meanwhile, we should not worry too much about who will rule Israel – it’ll either be Bibi Netanyahu or one of his second-rate clones.
Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]
This article was first published at The Unz Review.