The Republican response to Democrat President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night was a breath of fresh air for Americans in distress. Delivered by Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the absence of a live audience, the 14.5-minute speech was more like a frank, heart-to-heart conversation with the public than a typical regurgitation of party talking points.
Backdrop and ambiance weren’t the only elements of her rebuttal that set it apart from Biden’s overly lengthy oration, however. His performance was put on from a podium at the US Capitol before a joint session of Congress, replete with bursts of applause and standing ovations.
The latter were ill-deserved, of course. The commander-in-chief’s oration was not merely mendacious; it was so full of lies about his administration’s accomplishments and the condition of the country that only die-hard enemies of the other side of the aisle didn’t mind the audacity.
Other Democrats were too busy praying that he won’t run for a second term, which would enable them to field a candidate that has a fighting chance of beating whichever Republican becomes the competing nominee. But, given his repetition of the phrase “let’s finish the job” – a campaign slogan if there ever was one – they’re liable to have their hopes dashed.
The choice is between normal or crazy
A broader cause for Democrat concern was articulated by Huckabee Sanders. “The dividing line in America is no longer between Right or Left,” she said. “The choice is between normal or crazy.”
It’s a distinction that ought to resonate with Israelis. It also should help to clarify to cynical counterparts abroad the advent of a right-wing government in Jerusalem.
Indeed, judicial reform – the issue that protesters are using as an excuse to spread international hysteria about the falsely portrayed “demise of democracy” in the Jewish state – is but one reason, among many, for the outcome of the November 1 Knesset elections. Of equal, if not greater, importance to voters was the restoration of traditional values to a society whose culture has been highjacked, slowly but surely, by the post-Zionist elite.
HUCKABEE SANDERS made this very point about the situation in the United States. The parallel to Israel’s predicament was striking.
“[T]he Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day,” she said. “Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”
She went on: “Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols, all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is – your freedom of speech. That’s not normal. It’s crazy, and it’s wrong.”
She then admonished, “Make no mistake: Republicans will not surrender this fight. We will lead with courage and do what’s right, not what’s politically correct or convenient.”
Such reassurance is precisely what Israelis opted for at the ballot box. It’s the kind of bravery – much harder to come by when confronting “enlightened” ideology than during battles with Hamas and Hezbollah – they want and need to hear from the ruling coalition.
Contrary to the perception created and fostered by the camp opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his partners at the helm, the government’s proposed bills aren’t aimed at curtailing Israeli democracy; their purpose is to bolster it. Not that this matters to the naysayers.
Though the anti-government demonstrations are rooted in fear, it’s a different sort of trepidation from that which is being highlighted in the press. Ditto regarding the Israeli hi-tech companies announcing their intention to move their operations and cash to foreign shores.
The panic stems from a sense on the part of the chattering classes that they’re losing their grip on an illiberal, primitive, religious mob. This is clear from the intersectional nature of their weekly tantrums, which are largely funded – surprise, surprise – by the New Israel Fund.
The radical-leftist New York-based NGO makes no bones about its support. In fact, it openly takes pride in its financial assistance to and active participation in the unrest.
“The question we should all be asking (in the Jewish tradition) is: What makes this moment, this protest, different from the rest?” asked the NIF on its website. “The answer lies in the diversity of attendees, which demonstrates the urgency of the moment. Netanyahu’s government has begun to execute its extreme right-wing agenda, threatening the rights of women, Palestinians and the LGBTQ+ community, to name a few.”
This was the gist, as well, of NIF board member Elah Alkalay’s keynote speech on January 14 at an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv. And why not? After all, the coming year, according to the organization, is all about “strengthening the big tent,” which means “focusing on the core issues and elevating collaboration, rather than just cooperation.”
Nevertheless, Channel 14’s Moti Kastel was banished from a press conference on Tuesday – held by protest leader/former defense minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon and fellow “democracy rescuers”– after asking whether the NIF is funding the demonstrations. That he also wanted to know whether they condemn the flying of PLO flags at the events didn’t help.
Ya’alon may no longer be a member of the Likud Party, headed by nemesis Netanyahu. But he’s aware of the public sentiment that led to the Left’s pummeling at the polls. Replying to either of Kastel’s questions, therefore, wasn’t an option.
Furthermore, figures of his ilk keep insisting that the present civil strife spans the political spectrum; in other words, that the split isn’t between Right and Left, but rather between the forces of darkness bent on destroying Israeli democracy and those of light-seeking to safeguard it.
This brings us back to Huckabee Sanders’s apt diagnosis of today’s “dividing line.” As is the case in the US, the schism in Israel is between “normal” and “crazy.”
The suggestion that reforming a system in which the Supreme Court can nullify legislative decisions based on what it deems “reasonable” will result in totalitarianism is insane. That a number of venerable jurists and Nobel Prize laureates are giving credence to the notion doesn’t make it any less loony.
Like the America that Huckabee Sanders lovingly described as “still the place where freedom reigns and liberty will never die,” Israel remains a beacon worthy of awe and emulation. Attempts to paint it otherwise don’t end well for its detractors.