Israeli Leaders’ Phenomenon

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

The phenomenon producing Israel’s leaders stems from the present attitude of the majority of Israelis who hold firm to the sick egotistical claim of being the “chosen people of God’. The claim is in play in Israeli politics by the racist/apartheid religious as well as the fanatic chauvinistic ultra-nationalist right-wing parties who rule Israel today. Yet, it is to be remembered that the majority of the founders of the Zionist state were non-religious (agnostics) and enthusiastic,-but not ultranationalists- who viewed the ultimate reality of God to be unknowable. Thus, they left it alone, paying only lip service to the Jewish religion where Zionism transformed the spiritual/anti-materialistic core of Judaism into a worldly material reality to turn it to a national identity.

With the advent of the ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious Zionists, the Torah became a ‘real estate’ book giving Jews “a divine right” to steal Palestinian lands, at will. Indeed, the founders of the Zionist state practiced ’Kibbutzim’, or the collective ownership of farms, and shunned the hoarding of personal wealth by all means possible which has afflicted present Israeli leaders where corruption is the norm in Israeli politics. Yet, the first prime minister of Israel David Ben Gurion died on his iron cot in the Naqab without a shekel to his name. For quite a time, Israel was supposed to be “the oasis of democracy and the rule of law in a Middle East ruled by (Arab) dictatorships and corruption!” In the view of many observers, present Israel has fallen down in the pit of racism and apartheid in its colonial rule of Palestinian lands.

Not too long ago, Israel, for quite a while, used to boast that it is a state of two-party system with minor parties floating around and where no single party is able to form a government on its own without forming a coalition which constitutes a collective rule. Moreover, Israel used to point to the conditions of governments in various Arab countries that are ruled by one party system or even by a leader without any party which let loose corruption and nepotism to prevail. In Israel of today, ’the cult of personality’ has replaced the collective decision/ leadership which is supposed to maintain the check and balance of every existing democracy. About the utter deterioration of the political system in Israel, the Israeli famous writer Uri Avnery wrote: “I see a government in a state of emergency in which democracy is suffocating on its last breath where human rights are being trampled, social justice disappearing, racism prevailing and (colonizing) settlers destroying everything that is good which is pushing the state down into a deep pit of no return.”

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu,  designated by the right-wing as the ‘supreme leader’, finds himself for the first time facing competition to his monopolized way of ruling Israel, not only from the religious and nationalist right-wing allies, but also from his own Likud party. Just before the recent parliamentary elections, polls showed that a major sector of the public was getting tired and bored of Netanyahu and of his leadership. Then, Israeli journalist Attila Somfalvi wrote, prior to the elections, saying that “the political republican regime in Israel as defined in polls and by various political commentators considered in the past Prime Minister Netanyahu as a leader without any equal who could not be replaced. This gave him the popular nickname “king Bibi”. Somfalvi, obviously, had been over-impressed by the pre-elections’ polls which showed Netanyahu’s sinking popularity. But the outcome of the recent elections confirmed a rising fact that his leadership in the government wouldn’t go smooth.  Many knowledgeable observers confirm that Netanyahu’s new government would be unstable, short-lived and divided because of challenges coming from his allies.

The ‘kingship’ phenomenon in Israeli politics has now moved from governing the state to the rule of political parties. ‘Israel Today’ newspaper recently revealed that foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman is getting ready to pick himself for the next government without resorting to internal party selection. On the same note, former Israeli defence minister Moshe Arens wrote saying “there are many explanations for the utter deterioration in the arena of Israeli politics. The downside stems from the phenomenon of the inflated I of politicians who played major roles in ruling Israel in recent years and never submitted themselves to follow the collective leadership’s decision which encouraged many to split their parties to form new one to maintain their personal control.”

Journalist Yuval Yoaz wrote that “the instability of the political authority ruling Israel stems from the instability pervading the political parties in which suddenly new parties appear and soon after fade away and with some uniting quickly in one instant and quickly splitting in another without any hesitation.”

What all these Israeli commentators appear to miss is that the erosion of the democratic process, the inflated egos (according to Arens), the slide into the pit of racism and apartheid that have taken hold in the state of mind of Israel’s ruling class are being brought around by the ruling ultra-religious right (and the ultra-nationalist right wing) who take the Talmud as the source of their morality. The Talmud declares openly that “non-Jews are beasts in human form created for the sole purpose to serve the Jews in this world.” Then, why does it surprise many people to see such degradation in Israeli politics in our days?