More on Bibi and Donald
It’s hard to get away from the men at the top of the two governments most important to these fingers. They appear to be close to one another with respect to policies of mutual interest, and they are both at the focus of severe criticism, with many of their countrypeople, and some of their party colleagues wanting them out of office.
Ongoing actions of both, and ongoing official inquiries invite yet another comparative pondering of what they are accomplishing, the benefits and damages assignable to each, and associated larger issues.
The reach and implications of what the US President does, says, does not do, and does not say are worldwide.
For us in this little place, most prominent have been comments admitting the realities that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city, that the Western Wall is sure to remain Israeli in any conceivable negotiations, vetoing a Security Council resolution meant to counter those statements, and–most recently–asserting that Israel is not at the heart of the world’s problems in the Middle East.
“For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as t he prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region . Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common
While none of those actions seem to go beyond a simple recognition of what is real and highly probable with respect to the foreseeable future, they have brought forth hyperbolic protests from Palestinians and their supporters, along with predictable demonstrations, injuries and deaths.
Palestinians and their friends take comfort in the total support given their effort in the UN Security Council, except from the United States. Likewise the vote of the UN General Assembly. Cynics can see the same actions as governments uncomfortable with Trump going along with the Palestinians in the confidence that nothing will happen of real import.
Trump’s controversies within his country go far beyond what he has contributed to Israelis’ expression of satisfaction and Palestinians’ expressions of rage. They include campaign issues associated with Russians, past actions and recent comments with respect to women, and responses ranging from applause to shrill damnation with respect to policy efforts for health care, migrants, and taxes.
Less than a year into his presidency, it seems to rank among the most volatile, and perhaps at the top of that list, going as far back in history as one cares.
He’s run into trouble with key parts of his program, i.e., a revision of health care and control of immigration. He’s done better on tax reform, but under a storm of criticism from social activists and economists.
It’s no surprise that he is a target of women aroused by the movement Me too, and remains a topic for mental health professionals and others preparing material for possible impeachment or a declaration that he is unfit to serve..
Those are high barriers, not yet breached in American history.
Americans and the rest of us should expect to be gritting teeth and hoping for minimum damage for the next three or seven years.
Assessments of his Israeli friend, ally, or copycat have recently been less concerned with the drama of public policy than with personal messes uncovered by police investigations of himself, wife, son, and close associates. Our questions deal with the prospects of one or another of those in the focus of police inquiries ending up in jail, and how long that might take.
Allegations and counter assessments, along with media blather are no less confused than American and international assessments of Trump’s personality, his tweets, womanizing, and official actions.
There seems no doubt that Bibi and family members have broken Israeli laws with respect to officials’ acceptance of gifts. Yet how serious the give and take, or what he has actually done for the gift givers may confuse, delay, and produce no outcome from whatever judicial proceedings go forward.
Also iffy are allegations–clearly affecting more serious matters–involving his associates and weighty dealings touching on a great deal more money and the sensitive issues of national defense and communications. To date, and without convincing explanation, these issues have not produced police investigations of the Prime Minister.
Given the well established tendency of Israeli police, prosecutors, and judges to dither at great length with frequent delays, especially on matters touching individuals in high office, the prospects of an early end, or even of early indictments that could trigger key resignations seem remote.
Closer to what is probable is the spread of political problems focused on the Prime Minister. Not only his own vulnerability, but those of David Bitan, once his prime aide as Knesset leader of the coalition, are adding to those among Bibi’s former supporters who are explicitly doubtful, or said to be doubtful about his staying in office.
There is no end to the scenarios imaginable by those familiar with the politics of Israel or the US.
Most certain is that anything like a peace process is either dead, dying, or on indefinite hold.
More pressing is whether the previous level of accommodations between Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinians can return to the status quo ante.
Betting should be positive, given the advantages to all involved.
Against this is the power of Muslim rhetoric, shown in the past to not only go way beyond reality, but to have the capacity to change reality.
Here it’s just another Monday work day. And next week will be another Monday, with little more than a page turn for those still using paper calendars. For those who celebrate, may you have a good season, and a good year.
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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