“The Israel we knew is gone.”  New York TV anchor Friedman mourns Netanyahu’s return, the rise of the far right

“The Israel we knew is gone.” New York TV anchor Friedman mourns Netanyahu’s return, the rise of the far right

“The Israel we knew is gone.” New York TV anchor Friedman mourns Netanyahu’s return, the rise of the far right

New York Times senior columnist Thomas Friedman laments the hardline, religious coalition likely to come to power in Israel after this week’s elections.

On Friday op-ed: Under the title “The Israel We Knew Is Gone,” Friedman attempts to explain to American readers the significance of the return of Likud President Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right Religious Zionist accomplices by likening them to figures American readers will be familiar with.

“Imagine you wake up after the 2024 US presidential election and find that Donald Trump has been re-elected and has picked Rudy Giuliani as Attorney General, Michael Flynn as Secretary of Defense, Steve Bannon as Secretary of Commerce, evangelical leader James Dobson as Secretary of Education, for pride. Guys former leader Enrique Tario as homeland security chief and Marjorie Taylor Greene for White House spokesperson,” he begins.

Friedman has long criticized Israel’s right-wing lawmakers, but he has come under fire from across the American political spectrum for predictions about trends in the Middle East that missed the mark.

In his latest column, Friedman argues that Israeli political trends often predetermine trends in the US and warns against that possibility.

He warns that Netanyahu’s new coalition, likely to be formed with religious Zionism in addition to the ultra-Orthodox parties of Shas and United Torah Judaism, will “storm synagogues in America and around the world” and “pursue pro-Israel students on college campuses.” ,” US diplomats “stress” and “send Israel’s friends in Congress fleeing” from those demanding to know why the United States should continue to send billions of dollars in aid to Israel.

“The Israel we knew is gone.”  New York TV anchor Friedman mourns Netanyahu’s return, the rise of the far right

MKs Itamar Ben Gvir, left, and Bezalel Smotrich during a rally of their Religious Zionism party in the southern city of Sderot on October 26, 2022. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

He cites Netanyahu’s promotion of lawmakers who view Arab Israelis as a “fifth column,” believe the judicial system cannot be trusted, want to expand West Bank settlements as much as possible, and aim to freeze the ongoing corruption trial of the Likud leader. and express. contempt for LGBT rights;

He cites Religious Zionist MPs Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, who are likely to receive top cabinet posts in Netanyahu’s next government, as the best examples of these troubling trends.

“Netanyahu has increasingly sought over the years to use the energy of this illiberal Israeli constituency to win office, not that Trump uses white nationalism, but Netanyahu has never really brought in this radical element like Ben Gvir, who claims to be a moderate because he told his supporters to chant “Death to terrorists” instead of “Death to Arabs” in his ruling faction or cabinet, Friedman writes.

Tom Friedman (YouTube screenshot)

Friedman quotes Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Nahum Barnea, who argues that Netanyahu has been aided by the escalation of violence on both sides of the Green Line over the past year.

“There has been a sharp increase in violence — stabbings, shootings, gang warfare and organized crime — by Israeli Arabs against other Israeli Arabs, and Israeli Arab gangs and organized crime against Israeli Jews, especially in mixed communities,” Barnea said.

“Although this rise began when Netanyahu was previously prime minister, he and his anti-Arab allies blamed the Arabs and Israel’s government of national unity,” Friedman writes.

But Netanyahu was also helped by the fact that while the right and far right were energized by the growing fear and mistrust of Arabs, whether Arab citizens of Israel or Palestinians in the West Bank, their center and center-left opponents were not. coherent or inspiring counter-message,” he adds.

He warned that the election results would have “profound implications for US-Israel relations,” citing senior Democratic lawmakers who already said in recent months.

“We are really entering a dark tunnel.”

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