Civil political discourse isn’t extinct like the dinosaur, but it plunged to new lows in 5782
Intolerance Reigns Supreme
ivil political discourse isn’t extinct like the dinosaur, but it plunged to new lows in 5782.
Politicians demean themselves in the process, but the citizenry ends up the biggest losers.
Is anyone surprised that Israel called its fifth election in three years? Will anyone be shocked if there is a sixth election during 5783?
Knesset members who can’t tolerate anyone’s opinions but their own boycotted the party that always wins the most votes, forming a coalition with a party aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In America, a new poll shows 64 percent expect an increase in political violence over the next few years. Americans grown accustomed to Donald Trump stirring his supporters now have to hear it from the far more mild-mannered Joe Biden, who sounds almost as strident as he stumps the country to berate Republicans in the quest for a few more Democratic votes.
The wheels of justice have veered off the road. Months of testimony and cross-examination in Binyamin Netanyahu’s trials have cast doubt on the credibility of the charges against him and the integrity of those who brought them.
The FBI resorted, for the first time, to raiding the private residence of a former president. Partisans on both sides jump to conclusions with little or no firsthand knowledge of what transpired.
An activist High Court in Israel increasingly views itself as lawmakers, while a conservative Supreme Court in America wades into deeply controversial issues. In both countries, there is rancorous debate about whether their decisions are legally sound or representations of their own political biases and worldviews.
The US-Israel relationship hit some more snags.
While we may never know what a second Trump term might have brought, the Biden administration has applied constant diplomatic and psychological pressure on Israel. The US pursued a new and weaker nuclear deal with Iran, restored aid to the hopelessly corrupt Palestinian Authority, and “oversees” Jewish housing construction in Jerusalem while pressing Israel to accept guilt for the death of a reporter who willingly risked her life for decades on dangerous assignments.
A new, inexperienced Israeli government pretended all was well, even as potential Arab allies understood they were facing a meeker and weaker version of America.
Israel was confronted with a major turning point in relations with Vladimir Putin after Russia invaded Ukraine. The calculation has changed when it comes to Israel attacking Iranian targets in Syria, where the Russians are in charge.
The US rivalry with China escalated, both militarily and politically. China may never surpass America economically, but it’s methodically closing the gap. China undermines US political power by contending that its Communist system is superior to liberal Western democracies.
Financial markets turned bearish. The highest global inflation in four decades led central banks to ratchet up interest rates, even at the risk of slowing the economy to a crawl.
At least the Covid scare is on the decline. It’s a disease we are learning to manage and live with. But even here, intolerance is the rule. The debate over the efficacy of the Covid vaccine has turned prickly. Both proponents and detractors are 100 percent certain they are right.
Is a positive turnaround in store for 5783? Can politicians overwhelmed with crises and impatient citizens expecting immediate results set aside their rivalries — personal and political — to work for the common good? That’s why we turn the calendar with every new year. To pray for the best outcomes, peace, and greater tolerance all around.
Normally, someone who consistently finishes a distant second in every poll shouldn’t inspire much confidence. But Florida governor Ron DeSantis has positioned himself as the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nod if Donald Trump decides not to run, or if he begins to look beatable.
Bennett discovered quickly that it’s far easier to criticize Binyamin Netanyahu than it is to replace him. Bennett’s political flip-flop from right to left would make an acrobat dizzy. Since stepping down after just one year as prime minister, he has rarely been seen or heard in public.
BREAK WITH THE PAST
“A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia.”
—David McCullough, an American historian, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
The earliest reference to McCullough’s quote comes from 1978 Los Angeles Times coverage of the National Book Awards. His words are especially clairvoyant in an era where cancel culture erases or revises vast swaths of US history. Israel’s Ministry of Education should take this to heart as it continues to reduce instruction in Tanach and biblical history.
The Supreme Court consists of judges, not prophets, but they failed to consider all of the ramifications of their June ruling to reverse Roe v. Wade. Following the decision, even conservative Kansans voted to affirm their state’s liberal abortion laws. The court’s ruling has altered the political landscape of the midterms, as liberal Democrats are more motivated than ever to show their displeasure at the ballot box in the November midterms.
“In G-d We Trust” is still printed on the US dollar, but a Gallup Poll from June shows that just 81% of Americans say they believe in G-d — down 6% since 2017 — and the lowest number since Gallup began asking the question in 1944. Growing disbelief is sharper among Democrats, for whom belief fell from 84% to 72% in five short years, while Republicans’ belief in G-d fell from 95% to 92% since 2017.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 929)
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