The election results in Israel on April 9 have been interpreted as a victory for the status quo because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s Likud party is best placed to form a new government and won as many seats as its main rival.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Win
The election results in Israel on April 9 have been interpreted as a victory for the status quo because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is best placed to form a new government. Won as many seats as its main rival. Despite the fact that Netanyahu has served four terms in a row and is unpopular with the public. He is under investigation for corruption. He will probably be allowed to continue in office due to the public’s desire for stability and familiarity. Jews in Israel believe that only he can keep them secure, powerful, and prosperous.
“The people want to live in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel,” wrote David Horvitz, the founding editor of the centrist Times of Israel.
However, maintaining the status quo is not a victory for many American Jews. It causes anxiety, annoyance, alienation, and sometimes even rifts. Acceptance as a minority in a nation founded on the principles of religious pluralism and social assimilation, which are hallmarks of the American Jewish experience. Clash with an emerging religious nationalism in Israel. If as predicted, Netanyahu succeeds in forming a majority governing coalition in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The already tense relationship between the two largest Jewish communities in the world is certain to deteriorate even further.
Politically, this election brought to light the growing political chasm between the two communities. The highest percentage of votes ever received by right-wing and Orthodox parties in Israel was over 57%; only 34% went to centrist and left-wing Zionist parties. There is little cause to believe that this will change. Particularly among Israeli youth who have reached adulthood during the prime minister’s rule. It can be difficult to imagine a different leader or a different style of government. Only two of the 34 Jews currently serving in the U.S. Congress are Republicans, and both of them are House members. There hasn’t been a Republican Jew serving in the Senate in more than ten years.
Under President Trump, who has openly sought to portray Democrats as anti-Israel and, in fact, anti-Semitic, while aligning himself so closely with Netanyahu that he appeared to try to sway the election in his ally’s favour, the situation has only gotten worse. White evangelical Christians and the few right-wing Jews in his administration have a similar influence on Trump’s Middle East strategy, which has the ironic result that the American president seems to support Israeli Jews more than American Jews.
Two significant victories for Netanyahu came when the President unilaterally moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Golan Heights are a sparsely populated region near Syria’s border that Israel seized during the Six Day War and annexed in 1981. Defying international law and reversing a half-century of American foreign policy. On March 25, Trump announced that the United States would recognise Israeli sovereignty over the area.
The White House then merely shrugged when Netanyahu said in the final days of the campaign that he would think about annexing portions of the West Bank, breaking the Oslo Accords and seemingly ruling out a two-state solution. It was yet another proof of how closely tied together Trump and Netanyahu have grown, endangering years of partisan support for Israel by making it impossible to support one without the other. The majority of Israeli Jews adore Trump, and 82% of them expressed confidence in his leadership in a Pew Research Center poll conducted in late 2017. American Jews are affected because they consistently vote against him and his party: 71% of them supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 79% supported Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.
The growing shadow that is engulfing Netanyahu is yet another reason for caution for
liberal American Jews. Additional examples include Netanyahu’s opposition to holding talks with the Palestinians to end the 52-year occupation of their lands. His rejection of a deal to build an egalitarian prayer area at Jerusalem’s Kotel, his use of anti-Arab language and intimidation techniques. His attacks on the media and Israel’s fiercely independent judiciary. And his decision to include a racist political party in his coalition if he were to win reelection.
American Jews were so outraged by that last action that even establishment groups that were reluctant to criticise the Israeli government out of loyalty did so anyway.
Even among Orthodox Jews, where Trump is much more well-liked, there is unease about the two of them being embraced ever-closer. One Orthodox leader, who asked to remain anonymous, asked me, “Why does Netanyahu have to defend every decision made by the President?” He referred specifically to how Netanyahu’s administration frequently downplays anti-Semitic violence in the US, which is primarily motivated by white supremacists who appear to feel emboldened by Trump’s presidency.
Even if it turns out to be nothing more than a last-minute election ploy. Netanyahu’s support for annexation has already heightened tensions. In a joint statement released last week, four Jewish House Democrats with ties to the mainstream American Israel Public Affairs Committee cautioned against applying Israeli law to all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The Reform and Conservative movements were among the nine religious and advocacy leaders. Who wrote President Trump at the same time to ask him to restrain Netanyahu and warn that annexation. “will create intense divisions in the United States and make unwavering support for Israel and its security far more difficult to maintain.”
The modern state of Israel has evolved over the seven decades since its founding to stand for more than just a human achievement emerging from the ruins of the Holocaust. It also serves as a tangible example of Jewish communal responsibility. Jews in America are expected to support Israel in various ways, including financially and politically. As a reflection of their shared American values and their peoplehood as Jews. Liberal American Jews, however, become concerned and perplexed about where their allegiances should lie when those values diverge.
Today’s American Jews feel that neither leader adequately represents their interests. Not by their President and not by the ruler of the country they have been told to call home. Following his victory, Netanyahu has been dubbed Israel’s King by his supporters. But it is becoming more and more clear that he is not the Jewish King.