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Tags: eban | netanyahu | arabs | palestinians

No Need to Regard, Treat Israel Like Banana Republic

flag of the country of israel

The flag of Israel was adopted on Oct. 28, 1948, five months after the establishment of the State of Israel. (Steve Allen/Dreamstime)

Micah Halpern By Thursday, 12 December 2019 12:16 PM Current | Bio | Archive

For the third time in one year, Israel is headed to an election.

And for the third time, sitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already won the distinction of being prime minister longer than any other Israeli leader, will try to take home the prize for himself and for his Likud Party.

Israel is both a strong democracy, and young democracy.

Established on May 14, 1948, Israel is only 71 years old, a toddler in nationhood years and still in the laboratory stages of development. To think, to say, that anarchy is now prevailing in Israel is to misunderstand the working of parliamentary democracies.

The U.S., unlike Israel, is a republic.

Voters go to the polls and elect individuals to Congress and a president.

In Israel, as in other parliamentary democracies like Great Britain and Canada, when voters go to the polls they select parties, not individuals. The head of the party with the most votes then cobbles together a majority government within the country's parliament, in Israel's case — the Knesset.

Sometimes, it's easy.

Other times, as we are now witnessing in Israel it requires not one, not two, and hopefully not more than three attempts to accomplish that goal and bring a new government into play.

In the meantime, the sitting prime minister remains as the leader of the country.

The only change is the members of Knesset. There are 120 members in Israel's Knesset and after every election those seats are divvied up according to the number of votes the different parties won in the election.

When a leading party cannot hold a majority government together, a vote of  no confidence is called the government falls and they got to new elections.

In the U.S., four years is the time between elections.

The transitional period for new leadership extends from Election Day in November to January's Inauguration Day.

It's a standard procedure.

Not so in parliamentary democracies. While Israel's democracy is different from all others simply and obviously because it is the Jewish state, deeply informed by Jewish tradition and Bible, it's still a democracy.

It's a flawed, but stable democracy.

All democracies have their flaws. Over time, self-correction mechanisms within each democracy improve the imperfections.

Just think about it.

At the same time Israel is trying to form a government and that Great Britain is trying to form a government and both are capturing headlines generated by the machinations of those efforts, the U.S. is going through its own zany political gyrations.

And only a few on the radical extremes are questioning the United States' democratic foundations.

For naysayers and for haters, a fresh opportunity to criticize arises heralding the end of democracy — whichever democracy that may be. These unique times have led several vocal critics to sound off about the evils of Israel and of the United States.

More specifically, the evils of their respective leaders, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and Donald J. Trump.

There are many drawing parallels between the leadership of Israel and the United States; between Netanyahu and Trump.

While there are some small similarities, the differences are tremendous.

What most critics are latching onto is that both Trump and Netanyahu face public hearings.

Impeachment in the United States, trial in Israel. While there is a possibility that Netanyahu will receive jail time, I can foresee no possible scenario under which President Trump is ousted from the presidency.

One of Israel's most respected orators and public figures, the late Abba Eban, once said of Palestinian leadership "they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

There is a lot of that going around lately. And once again, Eban's words ring true vis-a-vis Palestinian leadership. In this instance, they continue to demonstrate how sadly they misunderstand not just Israel or not just the United States, but both Israel and the United States.

Ahmed Tibi, a longtime Arab member of Israel's Knesset, said that his constituency will come out to vote in force this next election in order to oust Netanyahu. Speaking in the name of his party, Tibi said, "The Joint List will be strengthened and will gain more seats in the upcoming elections."

Tibi continued, predicting that both Trump and Netanyahu will be removed from office and the world will be better for it. He said, "2020 will be the year of impeachment of two people without whom the world will be better — Trump and Netanyahu. We will replace Netanyahu with the election where some Arab voters will cast more votes than the last election."

To be quite frank, Tibi not only misunderstands Israel and the U.S., he also misunderstands his own constituency.

The Palestinian Arab population in Israel has been less and less engaged in the election process not because of frustration with Bibi and Likud.

Their frustration is with the kleptocracy of Arab leadership. Arab voters of Israel are angry and their frustration is directed at their own Arab leadership — in Israel, in the Palestinian Authority and globally.

It's easy to blame Israeli leadership.

But Arabs living in Israel enjoy the democracy and despise their leadership and feel abandoned. Arabs are not coming out to the polls because they feel that their politicians are interested in furthering only their own personal causes and wealth, not the lives and betterment of their constituency.

Non-voters are punishing their so-called political representatives — not Israel's leadership.

I've discovered that many political pundits just give you their hopes and wishes absent real analysis. That is both cheap and wrong. In this case I can firmly say whatever happens, Israel will remain strong, as will the United States.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reportsClick Here Now.

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There are many drawing parallels between the leadership of Israel and the United States; between Netanyahu and Trump. While there are some small similarities, the differences are tremendous. What most critics are latching onto is that both Trump and Netanyahu face public hearings.
eban, netanyahu, arabs, palestinians
Thursday, 12 December 2019 12:16 PM
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