Accompanied by his wife and two sons, Bibi Netanyahu makes his way to the signing ceremony of the peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. A few hours prior to his departure, Bibi imposed a lockdown on Israel, with the aim of getting control over the novel coronavirus after hospital administrators waved a red flag. Netanyahu leaves behind millions of exhausted and angry Israeli citizens, as well as millions of Palestinians who are frustrated that Arab states have simply skipped over them on their way to normalizing relations with Israel. The old mantra “peace for peace” has indeed proven itself. It is possible to forge relations with Arab countries while jumping over the Palestinian question.
But for some reason Netanyahu’s regional peace fails to excite the Israeli public, which judges him not according to his political antics, but by the results of his COVID-19 policies. Here he receives a failing mark. Israel has become the country with the highest number of infected people in the world, as well as the first country to impose a second general lockdown on its citizens, with all of the attendant economic and social implications. Bibi envisioned a completely different scenario. From the moment the first lockdown managed to drastically lower Israel’s morbidity rate, he was quick to boast of his achievements, and immediately set about planning dissolution of the joint government with Blue and White and heading to new elections, receiving encouragement from the polls.
Bibi’s main goal was and remains one and the same, to thwart the trial against him through new elections in which he will receive an absolute majority in the Knesset. This, he thought, would allow him to enact a law that would save him from trial, while throwing darts at the prosecution and judges awaiting him in the Jerusalem District Court. The excuse for dissolving the government was to be the national budget. Non-approval of a budget would have led to an automatic dispersal of the Knesset, and towards the end of August we were supposed to begin another election campaign. The coronavirus had other plans. Between the end of the first lockdown and the last date for approving the budget and dissolving the Knesset, the virus raised its head. The number of infected people has doubled from week to week, Israeli public opinion is fed up with elections, and even Netanyahu has had to understand that election results while the number of confirmed, newly infected people exceeds 4,000 each day will not benefit him at the ballot box.
From that moment the countdown began. Without many political cards, the meteoric fall of Israel’s eternal prime minister began. Elections at the moment are out of the question because his popularity is plummeting. He cannot cancel the trial because Blue and White and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn are unwilling to participate in the smear and deception campaign against the justice system. The last card Bib has left is his friend Donald Trump. The ceremony in Washington is undoubtedly also an invaluable election gift to Donald Trump, given to him by Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Bin Salman has become an undesirable figure in the United States because of his responsibility for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and he thus works through his emissaries – the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain
But Trump, like Netanyahu, has become a victim of the coronavirus, and could lose the White House in the presidential election in less than two months. If the Israeli public is not particularly impressed by the new regional peace, the American people are living in trauma due to the criminal negligence of the Trump administration in dealing with the pandemic. More than six million verified patients, some 200,000 dead to date, and forty million unemployed are tragic evidence of the situation to which the United States has reached. The only address for this economic and health catastrophe is Donald Trump, and no peace agreement can deny this. Books and testimonies are published every day about the president’s conduct. All testify to a narcissistic man, ignorant, a pathological liar, dangerous and demagogue, who is willing to do anything to hold on to power. While world leaders despise Trump, he finds solace in dubious leaders like Netanyahu with his three criminal charges, and Arab princes, who hang on to Trump to save them from their people.
While Netanyahu attends a White House ceremony, the American people are trying to digest how their president admitted in a recorded conversation with veteran journalist Bob Woodward that he already knew on February 7 that the coronavirus was five times deadlier than the flu, hiding the danger from the American public with the contention that he didn’t “want to create panic.” In his public appearances, Trump presented the pandemic as nothing more than a conspiracy hatched by his Democratic opponents with the help of the Chinese. And even now, instead of concentrating on eradicating COVID-19, Trump prefers to focus on issues that divide American society, such as attitudes toward blacks, contempt for the Democrats’ ability to deal with crime, and warning his base that if Democrats win the election, blacks will invade their neighborhoods. In this way, Netanyahu came to the aid of a corrupt, temperamental, deceitful and racist person who imposed a disaster on the United States. In fact, Netanyahu’s fate depends on the results of the upcoming US elections. The possible election of Democratic candidate Joe Biden and the fall of Trump will be a fatal political blow to Netanyahu and his Gulf partners.
The U.S. election is one of the most fateful the country has known in years. It is a choice between mysticism and conspiracy theories and science; between religious conservatism and enlightened liberalism; between racism and civic equality; between climatic disaster and a green economy; between a culture of lies and a culture of truth ; between huge social gaps and social solidarity; between misogyny and equal rights for women; between police violence against blacks and equal law enforcement; between the free press and the enlisted press; the interests of Wall Street and the interests of Main Street. Netanyahu chose a side, with everything that entails. If Trump wins, so will all those distorted values that Netanyahu preaches, against the Palestinians, against the Arabs, against the left, against the rule of law, and against freedom of the press.
However, in January, when Netanyahu’s trial begins, there is a reasonable possibility that we will face a completely different political, regional and international reality. Joe Biden’s entry into the White House will undoubtedly be a blow to Netanyahu’s plans. At the same time Bibi will have to deal with 180 witnesses in his trial, the Israeli economy will be licking its coronavirus-induced wounds, and the Israeli public will have difficulty complying with government directives. If in addition he loses the unreserved support of Trump and his entourage, we can say good riddance.
The Da’am Workers’ Party thus has a proposition for the “anyone but Bibi” camp, which is devoutly protesting in front of his home in Jerusalem. Instead of exhausting yourself in demonstrations, whose only beneficiaries are the “brothers” Bennett and Lapid, invest all your energy in developing a deep and real programmatic political clarity around the question – how did we get here? This is exactly the mental calculation that American society is doing today. It does not wave the national flag but instead the slogan Black Lives Matter, while tearing down the monuments to the heroes of slavery. Bibi’s fall leaves a very deep, ideological political hole, and there is no one on the horizon who can fill it.
The question you have to deal with is simple: In what country do we want to live? An apartheid state, a state of huge social disparities, a state without a health safety net and equal education, a state of racism and exclusion, or a state of social solidarity, equality and democracy? There is currently no serious discussion of these questions in the political arena, which is dominated by the incorrect and dangerous approach that claims it doesn’t matter who comes in Bibi’s place, the main thing is that he will leave. If whoever replaces Bibi will essentially continue this same path, even if “respecting the rule of law,” he will not solve the fundamental problems of Israeli society that have grown Bibi, and enabled his tenure for so many years. All those who want to replace Bibi are either his actual partners today, or have been his partners in the past in implementing a policy that leaves us with a “regional peace” in the face of war with the Palestinians. Skipping over this silenced question tears Israeli society to shreds.