If Netanyahu Speaks Before Congress, He Will Likely Win Reelection in Israel
Manufactured image, but speaks the truth (source)
by Gaius Publius
Howie has been covering the upcoming (perhaps) Netanyahu speech before Congress in light of (1) the relationship between Israel and the U.S., (2) the relationship between people like billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban and our two political parties, and (3) the relationship between the Netanyahu speech and the upcoming (for sure) Israeli general election.
Of Adelson, for example, Howie quotes Uri Avnery in Counterpunch saying this (my emphasis throughout):
Who is the ruler of Israel?Adelson, of course, is not the sole owner of the Republicans. Like owners of sports franchises, he shares ownership of most politicians (of both parties) with the Koch-allied and Wall Street cluster of billionaires, together with a limited number of ilk-like others.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, of course.
The real ruler of Israel is one Sheldon Adelson, 81, American Jew, Casino king, who was rated as the world’s tenth richest person, worth 37.2 billion dollars at the latest count. But who is counting?
Besides his casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Macao and Singapore, he owns the US Republican party and, lately, both Houses of the US Congress.
He also owns Binyamin Netanyahu.
But that's a small point. Avnery's larger point is about Adelson and Netanyahu, and on that he's likely right. By Howie's and Avnery's telling, it's largely Adelson and his associates who are bringing Netanyahu to Congress. Note that Adelson is closely allied with the Republicans and not at all with the Democrats. For Avnery that matters, as you will read shortly.
What Does the Israeli Election Look Like to the Israelis?
Avnery is an Israeli politician and peace advocate (click to read his background; it's long and distinguished). In a new piece, he weighs in on all three aspects of Netanyahu's speech listed above. As Avnery tells it, this is a turning-point election for Israel's future, and no one's talking about it (h/t Dr. Don Baham for the link):
I have witnessed 20 election campaigns for the Knesset. In five of them I was a candidate, in three of them I was elected.Issues like peace, occupation, settlement, population transfer and the crumbling Israeli welfare state, he says, are undiscussed:
As a child I also witnessed three election campaigns in the dying days of the Weimar republic, and one (the last more or less democratic one) after the Nazi ascent to power.
(The Germans at that time were very good at graphic propaganda, both political and commercial. After more than 80 years, I still remember some of their election posters.)
Elections are a time of great excitement. The streets are plastered with propaganda, politicians talk themselves hoarse, sometimes violent clashes break out.
Not now. Not here. 17 days before the election, there is an eerie silence. A stranger coming to Israel would not notice that there is an election going on. Hardly any posters in the streets. Articles in the newspapers on many other subjects. People shouting at each other on TV as usual. No rousing speeches. No crowded mass meetings.
EVERYBODY KNOWS that this election may be crucial, far more so than most.
It may be the final battle for the future of Israel – between the zealots of Greater Israel and the supporters of a liberal state. Between a mini-empire that dominates and oppresses another people and a decent democracy. Between settlement expansion and a serious search for peace. Between what has been called here “swinish capitalism” and a welfare state.
In short, between two very different kinds of Israel.
So what is being said about this fateful choice?
The Israeli welfare state, once the envy of many countries (remember the kibbutz?) is falling apart. All our social services are crumbling. The money goes to the huge army, big enough for a medium power. So does anyone suggest drastically reducing the military? Of course not. What, stick the knife in the backs of our valiant soldiers? Open the gates to our many enemies? Why, that’s treason!Instead, the discussion is around what most would call distractions — for example, "Did Sara Netanyahu use public funds to install a private hairdresser’s room in the [Prime Minister’s] residence?"
Despite a Misled Opposition, the Election Is Tied
The opposition party, called "Zionist Camp," includes or consists of the Israeli Labor Party and it is badly led (click through to read how and why). Nevertheless, the election is razor-close.
In spite of everything, Likud and the Zionist camp are running neck and neck. The polls give each 23 seats (of 120), predicting a photo finish and leaving the historic decision to a number of small and tiny parties.Which means:
THE ONLY game-changer in sight is the coming speech by Binyamin Netanyahu before the two Houses of Congress.It sounds like Avnery thinks this speech will be a winner back home, that it could well swing the election.
It seems that Netanyahu is pinning all his hopes on this event. And not without reason.
Netanyahu is an accomplished TV personality. He is not a great orator in the style of Menachem Begin (not to mention Winston Churchill), but on TV he has few competitors. Every movement of his hands, every expression of his face, every hair on his head is exactly right. His American English is perfect.
The leader of the Jewish ghetto pleading at the court of the Goyish king for his people is a well-known figure in Jewish history. Every Jewish child reads about him in school. Consciously or unconsciously, people will be reminded.
All Israeli TV stations will broadcast the event live. It will show him at his best. The great statesman, addressing the most important parliament in the world, pleading for the very existence of Israel. ...
I cannot imagine any more effective election propaganda. Using the Congress of the United States of America as a propaganda prop is a stroke of genius.
Why does that matter? Avnery:
MILTON FRIEDMAN asserted that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and this lunch has a high price indeed.In essence, Netanyahu, thanks to Adelson and his close associate, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, are risking the bipartisan consensus that keeps Israel in "most favored nation" status in all respects, just to win electoral victory for himself and the worst elements of the Israeli population — the expansionist, eliminationist element.
It means almost literally spitting in the face of President Obama. I don’t think there was ever anything like it. The prime minister of a small vassal country, dependent on the US for practically everything, comes to the capital of the US to openly challenge its President, in effect branding him a cheat and a liar. His host is the opposition party.
Like Abraham, who was ready to slaughter his son to please God, Netanyahu is ready to sacrifice Israel’s most vital interests for election victory.
[Netanyahu] has declared war on the Democratic Party, cutting the bond that has connected Jews with this party for more than a century. Destroying the bipartisan support. Allowing Democratic politicians for the first time to criticize Israel. Breaking a generations-old taboo that may not be restored. President Obama, who is being insulted, humiliated and obstructed in his most cherished policy move, the agreement with Iran, would be superhuman if he did not brood on revenge.For Avnery this will affect all three aspects listed in the first paragraph above.
(1) Israel and U.S. relations — Discussions about support for Israel will no longer be a "gimme" in American politics. [Not a bad thing, in my view; also not as certain as Avnery asserts, though I could be wrong.]
(2) Adelson and the Republicans — Adelson will have won. By this move, he's cementing his Israel-first hold on the Republican party as we speak. From Avnery's earlier piece (quoted here):
It was Adelson who prepared the witches’ brew that is now endangering Israel’s lifeline to Washington. His stooge, [Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron] Dermer, induced the Republicans in Congress-- all of them dependent on Adelson’s largesse or hoping to be so-- to invite Netanyahu to give an anti-Obama speech before both Houses.(3) Netanyahu and the Israeli election — Netanyahu will have won, if this is the electoral swinger Avnery thinks it will be, and Israel may never step backward again.
Those are the winners — Adelson, Netanyahu, the Republicans (temporarily). Who will have lost? Obama (temporarily). And Israel, its hope for peace and its future as a democratic state. Is this a tipping point for Israel, already vilified (and justly, in my opinion) on the world-wide left? Avnery thinks so. We can only watch and find out.
Another manufactured image; something
for you (and Obama) to ponder
for you (and Obama) to ponder