As has frequently happened, most pundits in America and Israel, who are overwhelmingly “liberal” misjudged the nature of what US President-elect Donald Trump perceptively identified as a “movement:” a groundswell of anger, even rage toward all politicians, Left and Right, who failed to address people’s real needs and concerns. It led Trump to win the most powerful position in the world against incredible odds.
Some pundits, among them leading conservatives, did identify this groundswell. However, since it expressed itself in strong support for Trump, whose pedigree and style were not as high-minded and intellectual as conservatives expect, they flippantly dismissed it as a crude and shallow populist wave, generated by demagoguery.
The simple truth that even some conservative thinkers failed to appreciate was how powerful and justified this popular groundswell was.
Many Americans were alarmed by the failure of an increasingly politicized economy to halt the decline in their standard of living, while so much wealth was concentrated in few hands. They noticed that American politicians of all stripes were doing very well for themselves and their families and friends, that they accommodated big corporations and banks but ignored the plight of those who lost their jobs, homes and savings.
Bowing to union pressures, the elites did little to improve a deteriorating educational system or to enable others to secure decent work, an adequate livelihood and affordable housing, goods and services.
Similarly, in Israel, media mavens competed in mocking Trump’s scathing criticism of politics-as-usual, ignoring, as do most of our politicians, the predicament of most Israelis who have to support a family on 7,000 shekels a month while prices, inflated by monopolies, are mostly higher than in New York. Like in America, most of our media, owned by monopolies, protect an iniquitous system that makes Israel the poorest country in the OECD, while its wage gap is the highest. Israel still has to wait for a courageous voice like Trump’s to expose these inequities that are far worse than those of America.
As for education, since it has been taken over, especially in the universities, by post-modernists and neo-Marxists, it has been deteriorating rapidly, despite a huge increase in costs. This is hardly surprising, considering that no monopoly, especially a government monopoly, and especially a rigid monopoly dedicated to indoctrination, can educate. Yet elected representative in the US and Israel did not do much, for decades now, to address this critical crisis that poses a great economic and social threat to both countries.
In both countries, students fail to acquire skills that could make them employable and productive. The high unemployment rate among European youth caused by such ideologically tainted, worthless state “education,” presages what is bound to afflict American and Israeli students.
For with all respect for post-modernism, how can an education concerned mostly with dogmas and slogans, with large dollops of neo-Marxism thrown in, and an obsession with “social justice” (whatever that is), enable students to prepare for a productive life? In both countries, citizens feel unprotected from spreading crime – violent as well as white collar – due in part to the malfunctioning of their “liberal” legal system.
People are apprehensive about the rising tide of Islamic terrorism that may eventually deploy doomsday biological weapons and dirty bombs. They realize that long security checks at airports and other such defensive measures, or even presidential sermons in America on the unfairness of Islamophobia cannot prevent more Orlando-style massacres.
Israelis find it hard to accept that a 50-day campaign against Hamas, with considerable Israeli losses, did not manage to vanquish it, and fear a repeat of such a war. They wonder whether the heavy costs of government, especially on defense, buy them real security.
Neither Americans nor Israelis seem convinced that they get substantial value from the huge sums of their taxes spent by politicians who became adept at funneling citizens’ hard-earned money to their own, often nefarious, purposes. Politics have become synonymous with incompetence, cronyism, favoritism, and persistent mismanagement, billions in waste and spiraling corruption. Politics, many have come to realize, block economic growth, trash education, fail to deliver security or justice – and the list goes on.
Perhaps this is why so many Israelis were so eager, like so many Americans, to listen to Trump, who uninhibitedly voices what they think of their politicians and their “elites” but cannot express for fear of being ridiculed or ostracized. They appreciated hearing such plain talk from a man who, with his considerable business acumen and achievements, could have become a prominent member of the political class, but chose to defy it.
Israelis were thankful, of course, for Trump’s friendly attitude towards Israel, so different from the overt and covert hostility of the Democratic Party, the denizens of Foggy Bottom, the New York Times and CNN. Many Israelis also appreciated that Trump and his entourage did not reek from a subtle and not so subtle antisemitism masquerading as concern for the poor oppressed Palestinians, of which Obama’s support for the recent scandalous UN resolution was a prime example. They can see how sincere “the world community” and the Obama administration are by their criminal negligence of the massacres suffered by Muslims in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and almost every other Muslim country.
Trump seems unimpressed by the common wisdom of the State Department and the Democrats’ herd of peace-making “experts.” They have been peddling for decades a totally unrealistic and unworkable two-state solution, without caring that one of the “states,” the so-called “Palestinian Authority” is a criminal regime that destroys its own people (with not a word from the Israeli “peace camp”) and has no intention of making peace with Israel, but to destroy it. Similar experts framed, with Obama’s inspiration, a dangerous “agreement” with a bankrupt Iran that provided it with the means to finance building its atomic bomb.
Israelis hope that Trump, who is not committed to the decades of falsehoods and fantasies promoted by Foggy Bottom and its “Israel-loving” European allies and the so-called world media, whose fairness and objectivity was demonstrated in the lies and distortions it spread against candidate Trump, will study the issues more objectively and treat the Israeli Palestinian conflict as the neighborhood brawl it is when compared to the strategic threat from Iran. Iran openly aspires to bring down the West, indeed Christianity, by controlling the flow of Gulf oil and raising its price, by impoverishing Europe and then dominating its politics, as Arab oil money has been doing successfully for several decades now.
It is certain that Trump and his excellent team of appointees and advisers who are probably not infected with the eternal “peace process” delusions, will not support enemies of America and betray its allies as Obama systematically did, that it will act with reason and objectivity.
So yes, Israelis share with Americans a healthy skepticism, if not contempt for establishment politics, as was evident in America also from the surprising success of a stale socialist like Bernie Sanders.
Such a recoil from traditional establishment politics and the need to tame or replace the old elites that still occupy most positions of power will take time and involve great difficulties. But people seem to believe that the stench of politics has become so toxic that only a strong storm can clear its polluted air. Let us pray that such a storm will indeed result in the necessary changes without causing too much pain.