And suddenly darkness has descended upon Israel. After years of shining brightness, this beacon of justice and freedom that cast its light into the distance has fallen dark. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman was quick to provide a diagnosis (New York Times, Nov. 5). After his good friend Nahum Barnea reported the Israeli election results to him and explained that “we have a different kind of Israel now,” Friedman concluded that “we are truly entering a dark tunnel.”

Friedman’s was a column lamenting that for him, Israel has gone to pot, as it has for a good many other Israelis. As usual, he aptly expressed liberal American Jews’ sense of frustration and dread, something strikingly similar to that of their friends on the Zionist left in Israel. Things were good and then along came Itamar Ben-Gvir, and now things will be bad. That’s what they also thought in 1977 when Menachem Begin’s Likud first gained power.

Netanyahu’s new partners believe that construction in the settlements needs to be expanded “so there is not an inch left anywhere in the West Bank for a Palestinian state,” Friedman writes, and they view Israel’s Arab citizens as a fifth column. Up to now, after decades in power without these new partners, supposedly there were an infinite number of inches for a Palestinian state and no one had viewed Israeli Arabs as a fifth column. Now, because of Ben-Gvir, it will happen. The country has been lost, and we have no other country.

It’s a time for lamentation, the lamentation of the Friedmans from both sides of the Atlantic. How good it’s been here and how terrible it will be from now on. True, it was nice to think like that. How nice it is to lie to oneself. While Friedman and Barnea went around Israel having numerous meetings with Israeli army officers whose words they thirstily drank up, one of the world’s worst tyrannical military regimes was entrenching itself, run by those same officers, yet the Jews of America and Israel’s own enlightened citizens didn’t see what was happening. The Friedmans’ lament now demonstrates the depth of their blindness.

It’s because of Bezalel Smotrich that there won’t be room for a Palestinian state. It’s only his party colleague Orit Strock who views Israeli Arabs as a fifth column. It’s sad how funny this is.

Dear Tom, there hasn’t been an inch left for a Palestinian state for quite some time. Since the days of the left-wing and centrist governments that you liked so much, the country has filled up with 700,000 settlers, all of whom are politically powerful and some of whom are violent. And the malignant suspicion towards Israel’s Arabs has long become the legacy of a great majority in Israel. Look at how the left-wing and centrist parties have evaded forging partnerships with them, yet now it is being blamed on Netanyahu’s new partners? Isn’t that a bit belated, a bit hypocritical and self-righteous?

But there’s nothing bad without some good. As belated as it might be, Friedman’s prediction actually inspires great hope: American diplomats, he predicted, would stop reflexively defending Israel, and friends of Israel in Congress would begin wrestling with the billions that Israel gets. “[A] fundamental question will roil synagogues in America and across the globe: ‘Do I support this Israel or not support it?’”

And what more could we ask for? If there is a reason not to despair, that’s the one. Was American diplomats’ reflexive support for Israel bad or good for it? Did the Jews who didn’t ask themselves what kind of country they were supporting help or hurt it? In a reality in which there were no remaining optimistic scenarios, this terrifying scene is actually the last source of hope.

It would be better if the Jews of the world didn’t support Israel blindly and that U.S. politicians were freed from reflexive support. It has corrupted Israel and taught it that it can cause as much harm as it wishes without taking responsibility and at no cost. Maybe now, when Israel is going “there,” as this top American commentator put it, it will free itself of the many wheeler-dealers surrounding it and finally understand that it must break this habit by itself. Maybe.

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The Friedmans’ Lamentation

48 16 11
11.11.2022

And suddenly darkness has descended upon Israel. After years of shining brightness, this beacon of justice and freedom that cast its light into the distance has fallen dark. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman was quick to provide a diagnosis (New York Times, Nov. 5). After his good friend Nahum Barnea reported the Israeli election results to him and explained that “we have a different kind of Israel now,” Friedman concluded that “we are truly entering a dark tunnel.”

Friedman’s was a column lamenting that for him, Israel has gone to pot, as it has for a good many other Israelis. As usual, he aptly expressed liberal American Jews’ sense of frustration and dread, something strikingly similar to that of their friends on the Zionist left in Israel. Things were good and then along came Itamar Ben-Gvir, and now things will be bad. That’s what they also thought in 1977 when Menachem Begin’s Likud first gained power.

Netanyahu’s new partners believe that construction in the settlements needs to be........

© Haaretz


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