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Thread: Zionuts

  1. #751
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    You're having the Trump discussion from 2016/2017 again.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  2. #752
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    Not too far off the truth.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  3. #753
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Agreed, which is why it's so interesting to see the other side of the discussion hasn't changed much.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  4. #754
    All Worship Ragnarök Loki's Avatar
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    It's also ironic to see people who've long complained (for legitimate reasons) about Israel being held to a different standard now holding Israel to a different (much lower) standard. I don't really see much of a difference between the intentions of Netanyahu, Orban, Kaczynski, Duterte, and Modi (Putin and Erdogan are a step ahead in the autocracy game). The main difference is the strength of institutions and political opponents. None respect the law. None have clear ideologies. All turned to nationalism when they realized its effectiveness. All know that an independent media and judiciary are the main checks on their power, which is why all try to discredit or dismantle those institutions. It's easy to view someone like Netanyahu through the lens of his earlier political career. But that would be as much a mistake as viewing Orban today through the lens of his earlier politics.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  5. #755
    Loki, as usual lately I don't have time to give you a reply that does the issue justice, but your points are worth discussing so I'll take a brief stab at it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    I think our disconnect is that I look back at the early politics of, say, Herut vs. Mapai, or the self-defeating culture wars that Shas/UTJ/etc. have been embroiled in for decades, or any number of other fissures in Israeli politics and society - and I don't really see a difference of kind, just perhaps a difference of degree. It's easy to look back and romanticize the past but there were plenty of parliamentary shenanigans in the past, including a flagrant disregard for the rule of law and prioritization of party/tribal affiliation over sound policy. It's how people work. In this historical context, there aren't many norms being broken, just a really bad confluence of political forces that have exacerbated an existing issue. That doesn't mean we should ignore it - I firmly agree that Israeli governance should revolve around policy and not politics - but it means that the specific critique of the current government as being the end of Israeli democracy as we know it is simply ahistorical.

    There are at least two forces in Israeli society that have acted as bulwarks against some of this tribalism. The first is a set of functioning institutions, ones that have grown in power and independence in recent decades (notably the judiciary, press, and NGOs, and a lesser extent the bureaucracy). The second are savvy voters. Voters in Israel (and in Palestinian territories, for that matter) have an extraordinary amount of political awareness compared to your typical democracy (not that Palestine is a democracy, but you get my point). They are well aware of the bullshit posturing that is routine in the Knesset and are fairly savvy voters. The reason Netanyahu has done well in the polls has very little to do with these throw-away culture wars and a whole lot more to do with the utter collapse of the left in Israeli politics following the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000 and the disaster of the disengagement in 2005. Coupled with the perception that Netanyahu is a capable steward of the economy (largely stemming from his time as finance minister), Israelis vote for him not because they particularly like him or his brand of bullshit, but because they think the alternatives are unpalatable. This isn't to say that there isn't a core group that is, say, racist and would support policies that are in sharp contradiction to Israel's founding democratic values. But when Netanyahu is catering to them, he's essentially stealing votes from other right wing parties like Lieberman's or Bennett's. This doesn't increase his share of the pie appreciably (if anything, it probably turns off some moderate voters), but it just increases his clout in coalition negotiations with the perennial kingmakers in the center and center right.

    It's also easy to frame everything here as centered around Netanyahu, when that's explicitly not true. A lot of these bills are the darlings of prominent MKs who are jockeying for position ahead of party primaries - people like Ayelet Shaked or Robert Ilatov who have their eyes on eventual leadership of their respective parties. It's a problem the world over, where the leadership and candidates of a party are generally chosen by the most dedicated (and often polarized) supporters of a party, and Israel is no exception. But I doubt that Netanyahu has much interest in most of these bills other than as a useful political circus. He's almost certainly more interested in, say, the 'police recommendations bill' that would protect him, to a large extent, from prosecution for his corruption investigations (if it ever passes in a form that would actually help him). Or perhaps his (largely failed) attempt to gain political control over the state broadcaster.

    My point is that norms are important, and I deplore the usual circus in the Knesset. But I am not in any way convinced that this is an unusual circus.

    There's also the fact that Israel has abandoned its historic role of condemning anti-Semitism and provides legitimacy to anti-Semitic rhetoric and policies in Europe, as long as they come from populist wannabe autocrats (like Orban).
    This, while not really in any way connected to whether or not Israel is descending into illiberal democracy, is actually a very good critique. Israel has a long history of compromising its global stance on e.g. antisemitism for short term gain - ever since they accepted reparations payments and weapons from Germany it's been a common thread. Israel was responsible for funneling all sorts of weapons and support to Iran in the 80s, they made some very dubious overtures to the Soviets at various points, and of course in recent years they've been chummy with the Gulf nations that are responsible for sponsoring virulently antisemitic propaganda and indoctrination around the world. The basic commonality among all of these, however, was that Israel was getting something concrete - weapons, money, covert assistance, geopolitical advantage - in exchange for this compromise of their values. I'm far less convinced that making nice to a bunch of small Eastern European nations will yield anywhere near that kind of benefit.

    Lastly, I'm reluctant to take seriously anyone who says that B'Tselem is far left and repeats the canard that people criticize Israel's behavior only because they haven't lived under the same conditions, a strange claim to make when directed at Israeli human rights groups. The whole war against NGOs, especially trying to paint them as foreign entities, is basically a copy of Russia's policy.
    I think in the spectrum of Israeli politics, B'tselem would indeed be considered far left, at least today. Probably most closely aligned with Meretz. And it's hardly new for Israeli governments to clash with NGOs with which they disagree. Some of the vitriol directed at them is sharper nowadays, and I agree it is probably a bad idea. But their essential freedom to operate has not been impeded. If anything, essential organizations like Yesh Din get a lot more traction today than they did, say, 20 years ago. And I think there's a big difference between organizations like Yesh Din and B'tselem which are generally respected even if their recommendations don't get much support, and NGOs like Breaking the Silence which are seen as unaccountable.

    I'm not sure I saw, however, where the article made the claim about people who haven't lived under the same conditions as Israelis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    It's also ironic to see people who've long complained (for legitimate reasons) about Israel being held to a different standard now holding Israel to a different (much lower) standard. I don't really see much of a difference between the intentions of Netanyahu, Orban, Kaczynski, Duterte, and Modi (Putin and Erdogan are a step ahead in the autocracy game). The main difference is the strength of institutions and political opponents. None respect the law. None have clear ideologies. All turned to nationalism when they realized its effectiveness. All know that an independent media and judiciary are the main checks on their power, which is why all try to discredit or dismantle those institutions. It's easy to view someone like Netanyahu through the lens of his earlier political career. But that would be as much a mistake as viewing Orban today through the lens of his earlier politics.
    I'm not really sure what lower standard you think I'm holding Israel to. I think that those laws the Knesset passes that are explicitly problematic (such as the outpost bill, which is likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court), or those issues that are genuine abuses of power by Netanyahu (notably Case 2000 and the attempted takeover of the state broadcaster) are real issues that should be criticized as dangers to Israeli democracy, values, and institutions. But most of the rest that gets people worked up is, well, noise.

    I think that the difference between Netanyahu and at least some of the others you mention (I frankly don't have a good handle on all of their stories to state a general rule) is that he personally couldn't care less about nationalism or illiberal democracy. What he cares about is his own political survival in an increasingly hostile environment. He's the subject of a bunch of different police investigations, and the press coverage in Israel of him and his family specifically (not his party) has been increasingly negative. This is where he has gotten into trouble - meddling in the media for more favorable coverage, enriching himself through political connections, etc. - but he's not trying to conduct a wholesale assault on Israeli democracy because he wants to turn the country into an autocracy. He's conducting a piecemeal assault on specific institutions that he perceives as threats to his continued political career (and, possibly, freedom from jail time). It's ugly, it's corrupt, but it's also pedestrian. I doubt he has any delusions of being able to become an autocrat with a veneer of democracy, nor do I think it's even remotely possible he could succeed.



    I'm well acquainted with Israelis ranging from the far left (we're talking about serving time in jail for refusing to serve in the military) to the far right (religious Zionists living in an illegal outpost in the West Bank). Their opinions can be violently opposed at times, and there's a lot of ill will between different groups in Israeli society. But what's common to all of them is a commitment to democratic institutions (with the exception of the Haredim, who frankly don't factor in this discussion all that much). They're passionate about politics and policy because they are invested in Israel not just as their home but also as a project, an ongoing attempt to build a better state (something I might loosely describe as 'Zionism'). I don't think they're about to let some empty politicking in the Knesset take that away from them.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  6. #756
    Senior Member GGT's Avatar
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    Don't worry. Just go to Jared. He'll fix everything. Trump promises. Easy peasy.

  7. #757
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    I think it's a mistake to assume autocracy & the demise of healthy democracy don't arise from seemingly pedestrian developments.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  8. #758
    SEÑOR Member Aimless's Avatar
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    Considering the source it's probably best to take this with a pinch of kosher salt but, at the same time, how else are you going to deprive religious Austrian Muslims of access to meat?

    https://m.jpost.com/Diaspora/Austria...ews-562786/amp
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

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