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View from Israel: Goodbye 5775, Hello 5776

Shaul Amir
Shaul Amir

At the end of the Jewish year we try to find time, look back at the year past, look at where we are in the present, and try to climb the nearest hill to see if we can penetrate the fog of the future.

In the year past we have witnessed many changes, with the major one, the elections that gave Netanyahu against all odds the ability to form a right wing ultra orthodox government without a trace of the so-hated left. The left that was accused of putting spokes in the wheels of leadership, progress, economy, security and is the mother of all evil that goes in Israel, forgetting that since 1977 with two short breaks Israel was ruled by the right and that Netanyahu was PM for six uninterrupted years.

Now with the new government he formed (by the way only 25% of the population voted for him), with its minute majority in the Parliament (61 coalition versus 59 opposition), he “achieved” the following:

1. THE IRANIAN THREAT – Here he failed big time!!! Netanyahu missed a huge opportunity to influence, be part of and improve what is presented as a bad agreement. His personal feud with the leader of the strongest nation in the world failed. His master in Las Vegas Adelson, was the one pulling the strings as a prelude to the 2016 elections in the U.S. with the hope that this feud will move the Jewish vote and money from the Democrats to the Republicans. On the way, Netanyahu like an elephant in a china shop with the help of his protege the Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, managed to intervene rudely in internal American politics (never done so boldly before), force American Jewry to choose between their loyalty to the U.S. and their support for Israel (what a choice, an abyss on one side and a river on the other). Then he refused a huge defense package offered just to make sure that nobody will think that he supports the agreement. The same agreement that although is far from being perfect, removes the Iranians from atomic bomb by 15-20 years rather than if it was not signed could have had them three months away from a breakthrough.

The UN voted overwhelmingly to have the Palestinian flag with the flags of the other nations.

The Europeans voted to have all the manufactured goods beyond the green line to be stamped as if we are back in Europe of the late 30’s with the yellow Star of David.

We have never been so isolated and we need to break this isolation with bold and courageous political moves that our Government is incapable of doing as it is captured in the hands of right wing fanatics and ultra-orthodox parties

2. DOMESTICALLY – Handing over the biggest gas find ever in Israel to a monopoly rather than secure the future interests of the Israeli citizens.

Sending a political rival (Dani Dannon) to the UN, who is the most unfit person in the world to be our UN Ambassador, only due to the fact that he was a threat to Netanyahu in the party Central Committee. This unfit person will be now Israel’s face in the UN.

Netanyahu’s choice of ministers to serve the citizens of Israel is a mockery. All of it to make sure that none will overshadow him.

He kept the Foreign Ministry portfolio in his hands and literally dismantled our foreign service and thus stifled any possible diplomatic breakthrough with the Palestinians and other Arab countries.

He kept the Communication Ministry in his hands so that he can ensure the media will not turn against him. He is using the power of the Bibipaper (Israel Today) financed by Adelson t0 the max especially before the elections when it became his private horn. He dismantled the Israel Broadcasting Authority so that he will be able to appoint his people that would not dare to criticize him or his politics.

Our Justice Minister is pushing for laws that will handcuff our Supreme Court. She will help to make sure that the next Government Judicial Advisor will be one that will stop all the open investigations against Netanyahu and his wife Sara of mishandling public funds.

Our Deputy Foreign Minister (the minister is Netanyahu, remember?) does not believe in the two states solution but in a one state solution with annexation and without equal rights to the Palestinians.

Our defense secretary with all of our security forces are not able to locate, arrest and bring to trial the perpetrators of the inhuman act of the burning of a whole Palestinian family in the village of Duma six weeks ago. Only a four-year-old boy survived a family of four. If the murderers were Palestinians I assure you, the perpetrators would have been behind bars after a day or two and their homes demolished. He knows who sent them and who supports them among the most extreme right settlers that are trying to bring our fragile quiet to an explosion that will serve them. He claims it is for reasons of keeping intelligence resources safe. What about the four-year-old orphan boy?

Our minister of Culture and Sport (what a combination) is censoring shows she thinks are critical of Israel or the state of occupation and supporting stopping soccer games on Shabbat to please the ultra-orthodox in government and religious hacks in the Likud Central Committee.

Unfortunately in the last year, we became more right wing, more violent, less tolerant to others views, more racist, and more phobic with the help of the “fear technique” of our PM.
The internet exchanges, blogs, statuses etc. became mor extreme, violent and intolerant. I am afraid that we are losing our place as the “light onto the nations” and are turning to what we should not be….

Just a few words about the BDS movement. In my eyes it is a racist, anti-Semitic movement, that its agenda is NOT the welfare of the Palestinians but the annihilation of the State of Israel under false pretense fed by anti-Semitism, ignorance and misunderstanding of the conflict.

I’ll stop here as I can go on and on, since we are on the threshold of a new Jewish year.

The world is now going through dramatic changes that are very difficult to predict. Israel is in a very unstable region and if we will not be able to use the very narrow window of opportunity we are given now to work together with the more moderate Arab countries around us that are living under the same threat of terror, we will be left alone to fight a war that we can not win alone.

We have to improve our relationship with Europe and the U.S. We have to sit with the U.S. and discuss joint plans for a security package for Israel which will enable us to face the changing situation in our region. Our foreign policy has to be innovative, courageous and bold in the changing world.

I hope that in the coming year we will see a change of Government that will enable us to move forward and return to be accepted again as we were in the past, in the world.

Finally, I would like to wish each and every one of you whether you agree with me or not, SHANA TOVA and fulfillment of all our wishes, desires and hopes, all in good health to enjoy them.

About Shaul Amir

Shaul Amir has served two terms as Shaliach to the Denver area from Israel, the most recent combined with directing Allied Jewish Federation’s Israel Center from 2002 to 2007. He and his wife Kika now live outside Tel Aviv and enjoy welcoming visitors from Colorado to Israel.

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3 comments

  1. Thank you for this thorough and honest report and analysis of Israel today. Clearly there is a lot of work to do to support our beloved State of Israel, and there frankly isn’t much we Americans can do. We CAN support the Iran deal and those who vote for it; we CAN support Organizations in Israel that reflect our values of social justice and a pluralistic State. Shaul: your article was a real wake-up call–a shofar blast for us all!! Shana tovah u’metukah.

  2. The problem here is the failure to see that the advent of an Iranian nuclear option plays into a much bigger picture. The bigger Vista is the attempt by Iran to overwhelm Israel, become a regional power in the Middle East, supplant the Sunni vision of the world with the Shia vision of the world and finally to create a worldwide caliphate based on that Shia vision. Iran does not need an actual nuclear device now because the Obama administration is allowing them to gain what they need at the present time to pursue their regional objectives. Eventually, as they are able to build a more robust political, military, diplomatic and social structure throughout the world, they will need a nuclear bomb as a deterrent against too early intervention on the part of Israel or the United States. In other words, as long as they are still in a weak and growing stage of their plans, they will not actually need or maybe even desire a nuclear device. So the problem with the Democrats Iran deal is not just that Iran can get an actual nuclear device, which they will in the future, but that this Iran deal that Obama has negotiated allows them to grow in stature and cause threats in the Middle East against smaller states, including Israel. Therefore the deal as constituted makes smaller and growing wars more possible against Israel. The left in Israel and the left in the United States, especially those who denigrate people such as Netanyahu with slander, and support Obama, are playing into Iran's hands. Might I just point out that after concluding a deal with North Korea, President Clinton promised the American people that his deal would stop North Korea from having a nuclear device. But only 10 years later North Korea announced that they had a nuclear device.

    • The Iran agreement is with six other countries (Iran plus five). We (US) can sit on the sidelines while the rest of the world deals with Iran (and worry about whether the rest of the world is doing a good job) or we can be part of the monitoring and likely sanctions when Iran breaks the deal. I would rather have us inside than outside. This should not be a partisan issue, here or in Israel!!!