Actually, I have this wrong: there are many causes for weeping.
I write about hope often and there is still hope in my heart. But at the moment my heart is heavy with several matters that need to be addressed in a forthright manner.
We are now in the Nine Days before Tisha B’Av – the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, marking the destruction of the Temples and a number of other tragedies that have befallen our people.
This is a period of semi-mourning. Tisha B’Av itself, which falls on Saturday night and Sunday, is a time of fasting and full mourning. This entire time calls for reflection and contemplation regarding why the tragedies befell us. In particular, we are taught that the Second Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam – baseless hatred.
Sinat chinam: The heaviness I feel in my heart right now is not because of the destruction of the Temples, but because of our failure to learn its lessons.
Again and again, I keep thinking, “This is not the way it is supposed to be!”
We are in the midst of an election campaign – a campaign that should not have been necessary in the first place. Most Israelis are finding it to be fairly nauseating because it is about personalities and not issues. In place of informative or thought-provoking debate, we are subject to attacks leveled by one candidate on another.
We have, for example, Ehud Barak, a former prime minister with a miserable record, returning to politics at age 77 and starting his new Israel Democratic Party with the explicit, verbalized goal of taking down Netanyahu.
In an effort – which is bound to fail – to gain electoral clout, Barak has now merged his new party with the far left, problematic Meretz.
Most disturbingly, tensions are being exacerbated between the religious and the secular segments of our society.
A great deal of responsibility for this falls on Avigdor Lieberman who has been doing battle with the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties. But in the last few days Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party is one faction of Blue and White, has far outdone Lieberman with a video attacking the ultra-Orthodox that carries with it anti-Semitic overtones. Other members of Blue and White have distanced themselves from it. Lapid should apologize and hang his head in shame. He won’t.
Otzma Yehudit is not part of the United Right merged group and is running alone. I cannot say with any certainty why their 11th hour negotiations with Ayelet Shaked, head of United Right, failed – there are multiple versions of what happened and here too there are accusations. At any rate, they are running alone.
Shown below is Otzma’s Itamar Ben-Ari, who would have had a slot high on the merged list if negotiations had succeeded.
Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party is also running alone.
Polls indicate that neither party is likely to pass the threshold and get into the Knesset, with Zehut’s chances lower than Otzma’s. Votes cast for them will probably be lost to the right wing.
It is my opinion that the leaders of both parties at this point should withdraw and advise their followers to vote for another right wing party. If they were to do this they would be demonstrating concern for the country ahead of concerns for their own political party or political future.
In no way is this intended as a commentary on whether it would have been good for these parties to be in the Knesset. There is simply no room for taking chances.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared that there will not be a unity government. “My commitment is clear: To establish a strong right-wing government after the elections…This is my commitment to Likud voters. There will be no unity government.”
At the same time, Netanyahu concedes readily enough that it depends on the right wing voters coming to the polls to select either Likud or United Right, avoiding the parties that probably won’t make it.
But he’s doing more than simply recommending that voters select Likud: He’s attempting to remove Zehut from the electoral equation. Reportedly, he has made an offer to Moshe Feiglin to help cover Zehut’s campaign debt, a hefty sum of roughly $700,000, if he will pull out of the race.
Reportedly, he has also suggested a meeting with Feiglin to discuss other ways to strengthen the right bloc.
Feiglin has not yet responded definitively as I write.
I am intrigued by the fact that an attempt was made to fold Otzma into the United Right, but not Zehut, yet now it is Feiglin that Netanyahu is approaching and not Ben-Gvir. Does this suggest that the negotiations with Otzma backfired, leaving a feeling of resentment in its wake? Or does Netanyahu simply know that Otzma believes there is a fair chance of making it into the Knesset, so that they would in no way withdraw?
But let me turn now to America, because my heart is very heavy about what is happening there, as well.
The terrorist massacres – 29 people dead and many wounded in two attacks in less than 24 hours – are horrendous. But what also disturbs me is the way in which these attacks are politicized.
We are seeing leftists, including many politicians – supported and echoed by the mainstream media – who maintain that President Trump is promoting these massacres with his rhetoric. Take New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who said: “[Trump] has created a national emergency of rampant white nationalism across the country…”
That’s the theme, utilized by anti-Trumpers for attack. But the facts don’t back it up.
It has been conveniently ignored that the shooter in Dayton, Ohio, for example, was a leftist, antifa-supporting Democrat who said he’d be happy to vote for Elizabeth Warren.
Shooters don’t fit one model, and this whole business of white nationalism being at the heart of the attacks, with white men going after people of color, is actually a crock. But you wouldn’t know it from what some people are saying.
Don Lenon, host of CNN Tonight and a person of color, recently declared (emphasis added):
“We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men.”
While Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN, 5th), a person of color and not exactly the most objective of commentators, actually said:
“I would say our country should be more fearful of white men across our country because they are actually causing most of the deaths within this country.”
I wrote above about divisiveness. In America it is being promoted big time. A good reason for a heavy heart. How many buy this, and how many see what’s going on?
Anyone interested in the facts should know this:
“51% of mass shooters in 2019 were black, 29% were white, and 11% were Latino.
“Three mass shooters were Asian, two were American Indian and one was Arab…
“These numbers are if anything vastly understated. As many as half of the mass shootings that took place in 2019 thus far remain unsolved, but they often took place in black areas and claimed black victims.
“White people make up 61% of the country’s population, followed by Hispanics at 17.8%, and African-Americans at 12.7%. In that context, white people are actually dramatically underrepresented among mass shooters…”
In “Identity Politics Violence Is Tearing America Apart,” Daniel Greenfield places this critical issue in context and provides an important, indeed brilliant, analysis (emphasis added):
“The alternating mass shootings by white nationalists and black nationalists predated Trump. They’re part of a cycle of violence going back decades if not generations. The cycle of violence had largely died down until it was triggered by the resurgence of identity politics in the Obama administration.
“The rise of a new age of identity politics was not a response to injustice, but a cynical political strategy.
“Facing a more challenging political landscape after his original victory, Obama pivoted from universal appeals to racial nationalist rhetoric. ‘Punish your enemies,’ he urged Latinos. Joe Biden told black people that Republicans would ‘put y’all back in chains.’ The racial nationalism became more strident as the political position of the Democrats weakened. Race riots were stirred up from Ferguson to Baltimore. The violence spiraled into mass shootings of police officers and white people.
“Violence was only the most explosive symptom of a deeper racial polarization. White nationalist hate groups, long considered a joke, experienced their biggest revival in decades. Black Lives Matter protests convulsed major cities. Christian churches were vandalized with graffiti reading, ‘Negroes Are the Israelites,’ while two synagogue shootings and a rash of swastika graffiti exploded into the news…
“The identity politics fracturing of the country was motivated by the political roadmap of the Democrats…
“…the Democrats relied largely on racial appeals to mobilize their votes. These appeals highlighted a classic racial nationalist message that that pitted blacks and whites against each other with black people depicted as being the enslaved and oppressed victims of white people.
“Such messages only deepened the racial polarization on both sides. And the political racial polarization limited the options of the Democrats who had become inescapably dependent on the black vote, yet knew no other way to speak to black voters except through conspiracy theories of racial victimhood…
“Identity politics was born out of an effort by leftist activists to identify and mobilize potential supporters by breaking down a sense of national solidarity along the lines of group victimhood. Every act of terror breaks down national solidarity further and strengthens the appeals to race over nationality.
“Lessons about tolerance, white privilege and racial consciousness don’t end racism. They spread it.
“What inhibits racism isn’t leftist politics, it’s nationalism. We are less likely to view each other as the enemy if we are all on the same team. When nationalism declines, then tribes arise. Identity politics is the politics of tribalism…
“Nations make war on rival nations. When a nation fractures into rival nations warring with each other, acts of racial terror become commonplace. That is what is happening to the United States of America…
“The only way to stop racism is by rebuilding our common purpose as a nation.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.