FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left

by

“One of the best attributes of human beings is that they’re adaptable; one of the worst attributes of human beings is they are adaptable.  They adapt and start to tolerate abuses, they adapt to being involved themselves in abuses, they adapt to adversity and they continue on.”

Julian Assange

Barack Obama has been the ultimate President for the ruling elites. The dissonance between his charming persona and his often brutal agenda enabled him to enact right-wing policies that padded his backers’ pockets and fortified the clandestine, civil rights-nullifying powers of the state, much at the expense of American tax payers.

In a reality dictated by identity politics, Barack Obama has also served as the ultimate feel-good President for liberals and the media. They could continue with their lives virtually guilt-free, lazily in a sheltered cocoon, while falsely projecting “progress” onto the President’s eloquent speeches and dark complexion. Thus, it is no surprise that ruling elites, liberals and the media overconfidently expected Obama’s candidate of choice, Hillary Clinton, to succeed him in office.

However, on November 8th the true American experience finally caught up and shattered this delusion with the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton and the ascendancy of Donald Trump. In the age of likes, shares and cyberbullying, Twitter outplayed mainstream media’s ability to accurately assess the public’s growing discontent with the neoliberal status quo. Newsweek even went so far as to prematurely celebrate Clinton’s victory in print with a now sought after collector’s item “Madam President” issue. Whether Donald Trump’s victory is legitimate or not does not change the fact that American elites, liberals and the media have been proven to be grossly out of touch.

Upon the official announcement of the results on November 9th, Barack Obama issued a conciliatory and pacifying message, which stood in stark contrast to his long record of berating and humiliating Donald Trump. As such, in several weeks we are going to witness what will likely be the most awkward changing of the guards at the White House in history. The highly photogenic and elegant first African-American family will be replaced by a KKK-endorsed Twitter troll and his clan, part of which will ironically be on a temporary resident status.

As an Israeli-American with dual citizenship, the recent events in the United States evoke in me a sense of déjà vu, reminding me of the Israeli reality approximately ten years ago.

Ahead of the elections in 1996, Israel was still in a state of shock after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination on November 4th, 1995 by the right-wing settler fanatic Yigal Amir. Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Shimon Peres faced off in a campaign that was dismissed by elites, liberals and the media as an easy win for Peres. They viewed Bibi as a brash, opportunistic Jewish-supremacist whose incitement was partly responsible for Rabin’s assassination, and therefore his triumph was an unimaginable abomination. On election night, exit polls indicated a Peres win, though by morning Netanyahu was declared the victor by less than 1%, evoking the term “went to bed with Peres, woke up with Netanyahu”.

Upon Netanyahu’s election, Israeli elites, liberals and the media adopted a conciliatory approach, and decided to give him a chance. Many felt Bibi was relatively moderate compared to some of his coalition partners, which included extremists such as Rafael “Raful” Eitan, and the notorious Ariel Sharon. Thus, he consolidated power by galvanizing on their anxiety of the more extreme alternatives to his rule.

Ever since this surprising defeat, and in an attempt to remain relevant to large Jewish populations, Netanyahu’s opposition from the left compromises on its positions, resulting in a consistent and overall dramatic decline in its electoral power. More importantly, an agenda of equality and justice, once championed by the left, has been forgotten and even villainized; in present day Israel the Hebrew words for “left-wing” or “lefty” are derogatory, meaning loser or traitor.

In addition to this dramatic and ongoing shift of the mainstream to the right, corruption in Israeli politics is rampant. While in 1977 Rabin resigned from office due to a small bank account he and his wife had in Washington, nowadays Netanyahu clings to power even though he is currently under investigation for multiple corruptions. Meanwhile, many swaths of the Israeli public condone the summary execution of Palestinians and soon theft of private Palestinian lands will be legalized and acceptable.

Though there are obviously many differences in the populations and political landscapes of Israel and the United States, the Israeli example serves to demonstrate that once fundamental concessions are made and compromise is achieved by abandoning essential moral high ground, the battle is lost. There is no “let’s give him a chance and see” option. The battle is meaningless once these bargains are struck.

Just as Bibi appeared in 1996, Trump seems relatively moderate, or at least unpredictable,  compared to his Nazi-saluting supporters and the company he keeps, which includes Breitbart’s Steve Bannon and James “Mad Dog” Mattis. However, as the 1996 Israeli example illustrates, it is crucial to judge Trump’s future administration by its most extreme components, not solely by Donald Trump himself or any of his more moderate cabinet appointments. In addition, fear of more radical alternatives, such as Vice President-elect Pence, must not produce subservience to Trump. For years Netanyahu has been appeasing his political partners by moving rightward, while holding on to power by frightening his opposition on the left.

As the Israeli example demonstrates, American elites, liberals and the media must quickly come to terms with a new and uncomfortable reality whereby they either actively resist the discriminatory and reactionary policies of a Trump administration from day one (and before), or compromise, resign and conform to them. There is no middle ground when facing assaults to hard-won and fundamental human rights. The fight for this country’s soul must be waged in solidarity with all minorities both here and abroad, uncompromisingly and unapologetically.

Their fate is the fate of America.

More articles by:

Yoav Litvin is a Doctor of Psychology/ Behavioral Neuroscience.  

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail