Opinion: Coupling Trump and Netanyahu

Despite the political disparity, the Israeli Left is trying to forge a guilt by association between the prime minister and the US Republican candidate.

October 4, 2016 11:47
3 minute read.
Netanyahu Trump

Netanyahu and Trump. (photo credit: REUTERS)

SOME ISRAELI publicists are forcibly attempting to wed the Netanyahu government to Donald Trump's faltering campaign. Perhaps they want to vicariously savor a Clinton electoral victory given the Left's marginalized position in Israeli politics. More likely this is an attempt to leverage the hostility toward Trump into loathing for Netanyahu and his government by claiming, as one pundit did, that both Netanyahu and Trump employ “scrape the sewer politics.”

The Left is entitled to its cup of solace from Trump’s troubles but any comparison with the Israeli political situation is pitiful. Have Israeli nationalists defected en masse to Isaac Herzog or even Yair Lapid as some Republicans have ditched Trump? Some nationalists, myself included, believe that it is time for Netanyahu to relinquish the reins but the alternative of supporting a centrist or leftist candidate as the lesser evil or sitting on our hands does not cross our minds. Judging by the polls, this idea does not entice a majority of Israeli voters either.

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It is precisely due to the disparity between the two political situations that the Left needs to forge a guilt by association between Netanyahu and Trump in order to rouse the American “save Israel from herself” crowd to impose a solution on Israel that is consonant with the Israeli Left’s thinking. Here too the effort appears wasted.

The J Streeters, settlement boycotters, New York Times editorialists and George Soros grantees can be counted upon to do their thing irrespective of whether the Republican candidate is Mitt Romney or Donald Trump.

That said, a similarity does exist between the 2015 Knesset elections and the current US presidential race, namely the suspension of professional ethics by some journalists in the belief that they are engaged in a crusade rather than covering an electoral contest.

This crusade is accompanied by outright contempt for people who think differently. Rogel Alpher epitomized this attitude in a Haaretz opinion piece titled “Why Do People Vote for Trump and Netanyahu? Because They’re Stupid.”

I have previously written in The Jerusalem Report that Netanyahu was paradoxically the main beneficiary of the over-the-top journalistic mobilization against him and the condescension exhibited toward Likud voters in the last elections. The journalistic gangtackling of Trump coupled with Hillary’s emails are the best things that Trump has going for him now.

The same people who accused John McCain and Mitt Romney of reviving the Cold War by voicing suspicion of Putin's Russia now label Trump the Kremlin’s candidate. I have seen opinion pieces penned by members of the Russian foreign policy elite preferring Clinton for her experience or because Clinton will continue to overextend America's capabilities. These Russian viewpoints never make their way into the media because why ruin a good stereotype? Or take the criticism of Trump’s comments about NATO. It was actually “His Eloquence” Barack Obama who complained about NATO free-riders, but when Obama does it, it is called a needed injection of candor about the untenable situation within NATO. It is equally courageous for Obama to mock the “Washington playbook” and the foreign policy think tanks, but when Trump does so, he betrays his ignorance and arrogance.

Trump voters are constantly described as violence-prone although it has been the Trump rallies and fundraisers that have been targeted by violent shoving and spitting demonstrators.

The culminating episode was the reaction to the crude and nude statues of Trump that an anarchist collective put on display in America's cities. Anarchists will be anarchists but a more sober reaction is called for by serious newspapers like The Washington Post. But WaPo’s homepage treated us to an entire slide show buffeting Trump in the buff. This demeaning of a man who theoretically could be the next president recalls one of Edmund Burke’s memorable takedowns of the French Revolutionaries. “On this scheme of things, a king is but a man; a queen is but a woman; a woman is but an animal; and an animal not of the highest order.”

If Israeli journalists must partisanly inject themselves into the American elections, the best advice they can offer their American colleagues is to avoid repeating the mistakes the Israeli press made in the 2015 Knesset elections. 

Contributor Amiel Ungar is also a columnist for the Hebrew weekly Besheva

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