Israel and the New Europe

Even as the capitals of Western Europe, and the EU itself, have proved to be sources of hostility toward the Jewish state, it is worth bearing in mind, writes Judith Bergman, that the countries of the former Soviet bloc—what Donald Rumsfeld termed “the new Europe”—are much better disposed:

Several East European countries, while having pasts rife with virulent anti-Semitism . . . differ greatly in their policies toward Israel [when] compared to their West European counterparts. That does not mean that everything they do is in favor of Israel; far from it. The entire EU, including those East European countries, voted in favor of the latest UN resolution [slandering] Israel [as] the world’s only health violator. . . .

Nevertheless, East European countries today represent the only part of Europe that, out of national interest or a genuine sense of solidarity, stands with Israel in one form or another. . . . In December, Czech lawmakers passed resolutions criticizing the decision by the European Union to label Israeli goods from Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights, and urged the Czech government not to abide by it. Characteristically, all Czech political parties supported the resolutions, even those on the left, save for the Communists. . . .

Most recently, the Slovak and Lithuanian parliaments have decided to form pro-Israeli caucuses, a result of an initiative by the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, the World Jewish Congress, and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. . . .

[These countries may sympathize with Israel] because they still retain a sense of logic and pride in their heritage and do not harbor any secret wish for national suicide. After living under totalitarianism for over a half-century—while Western Europe was harvesting the peace dividend of being under the American protective wing and growing increasingly more wealthy and materialistic, forgetting completely what it means to be terrorized—those countries that used to be under the Soviet boot see very clearly that Israel’s fight against Islamic terrorism is their fight, too.

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More about: Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Lithuania, Slovakia

 

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics