Uncertainty is part of politics, both for activists and observers. There's no clear metric for the extent of uncertainty, but it may be somewhere near its high point. For both the US and Israel.

 
Someone should be managing a pool for those betting on when Donald and Bibi will go to the showers.
 
Google provides some measure of the concern for various issues. The number of "results" associated with a query doesn't say anything about how many are pro or con, or the quality of their arguments. But if something has "gone viral" one can assume that it'll bubble up to discussions among the political mighty, and cause some to act.
 
Trump's gaffe on terror and Sweden, as well as his lame explanation of being caught out (the media misled me and I didn't mean exactly what I said) is as good a justification of suspicions about him as we have, so far. A few days after his comments, "Trump and Sweden" produced 21.1 million results.
 
The comparison of Trump and Hitler is problematic, but there is a basis in his concept of fake news, his attack on the media, and substantial numbers of people who believe his nonsense. 
 
As an indication of what people are writing, a Google for "Trump and Hitler" produced 31.5 million results.
 
"Trump and impeachment" has 14 million results.
 
The more complex issue of "Trump and 25th Amendment" gets 425,000 results.
 
Bibi is in a different league, perhaps owing to the smaller population of Israel and Israel-watchers. "Netanyahu and investigation" got 515,000 results.
 
However, he entered a more prominent stage when he met with Trump. The combination of his shenanigans in Israel, as well as his and Sara's staged love feast with Trump have come in for ridicule in both countries. "Trump and Netanyahu has 31.6 million results. 
 
The relationship between the two heads of government has also raised the temper of the long developing split between the two largest communities of Jews, i.e., Israeli and American. Israeli Jews tend to like what he's said, and American Jews are strongly, but not unanimously, acting like liberal Democrats.
 
It's also the liberal Democrats, Jews and others, who are least supportive of Israel.
 
An Internet friend who has corresponded with me for some time sent a note a couple of days ago that began with this.
 
"I love Israel, but I sure don’t like it!
I don’t know how many other American Jews feel the same..
It is your (Israeli) decision on what policies to follow.  My only ability to take exception to the direction of the government is to no longer support agencies like JNF which fund many wonderful, worthwhile and needed projects, while the government spends resources I don’t believe serve the best of the ideals of Israel.
Another concern I have is that we are (Israel is)  losing the support of our Jewish youth, moderate Americans, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
Trump may help in the short run, but I don’t think Israel can depend long term on him, and what will be the repercussion of his actions."
 
Among the curiosities in this note is his commendation for the JNF. It's one of the mighties of Israeli tradition, but has produced stories of corruption and mismanagement several times since the 1940s.

Israel has matured politically and economically to the point where we might ask ourselves about the involvement of overseas Jews. Why should they express themselves in Israeli policy any more than third and fourth generations Italian Americans express themselves about  the governing of Italy?

At one time the political support and financial contributions of American Jews may have been essential. Now we can weigh the benefits and costs. Israeli institutions work hard at raising funds overseas, but the proportions of donations from overseas Jews to Israeli government support and service fees is tipped heavily toward what comes locally. 

Moreover, the money that American Jews contribute to Harvard, Berkeley, Mt Sinai Hospital et al generally doesn't come along with an attitude that the funds should buy influence.

Among the ingredients off Judaic success is the capacity to argue and the elevation of legitimate dispute above aspirations for unity. So we won't tell our American cousins to shut up. 

It's been the practice of government officials to accept support and listen to prominent Americans, but to choose their own course of action.  Bibi seemed prepared to trade his relationship with Sheldon Adelson in exchange for better treatment from Yedioth Aharonoth.

With all the reservations that we can express about Bibi, Sara, and their kids' willingness to accept gifts from people wanting something from Israel, there seems no doubt that our leader is head and shoulders above the American he praises so grandly.

Involved are the traits of a parliamentary regime as opposed to a presidential regime tied to the kind of primaries that Americans cherish. Israelis and Europeans can only wonder about a political process that brought the highly flawed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to the final run-off, with the winner hard pressed to avoid spewing forth his own fake news, and not capable of filtering what he thinks he has heard about a major country in Western Europe.

Bibi, like his predecessors, and comparable prime ministers elsewhere, reached office after a long period of testing in positions of increasing responsibility. While Trump was maneuvering himself in the real estate market and associated with several corporate bankruptcies and no governmental experience, Bibi was moving over the course of three decades from a minor appointment in the Foreign Ministry, then Ambassador to the United Nations, and through minor and major ministries until he reached the top.

Those who accuse him of stubbornness on the issue of Palestine ought to look at the problems associated with the Palestinian establishment, deep splits between the West Bank and Gaza as well as within each of those places. There is also the inability of any prominent Palestinian to move beyond demands of undoing what has happened since 1967, 1948, or the Balfour Declaration of 1917, rejecting the notion of a historic Judaic presence in Jerusalem, demanding a Palestine without Jews, along with a flood of Arab refugees' descendants to Israel.

Trump has spoken out against anti-Semitism, and commends his Jewish relatives. Yet America First and his shrill opposition to refugees and illegal migrants may have triggered the recent uptick in anti-Semitism, most probably among the low lifes of America who are among his supporters.

None of which will do away with uncertainties here, there, and wherever people wonder about Israel or the US.



Comments welcome


Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
irashark@gmail.com

Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

Think others should know about this? Please share