“Like Israeli leftists, American liberals might also have to learn how to live with the rage”
It’s hard to find an apt comparison in U.S. media for the role that Haaretz plays in Israeli media.
Haaretz is “far-left” in its opinion content, but also has some excellent straight news reporting, particularly on security issues. And when I say “far-left,” I emphasize “far” in that equation. Reading some of Haaretz’s opinion columnists makes it hard to distinguish the paper from anti-Israel Islamist polemicists.
Haaretz has little readership in Israel precisely because it has tied its fortunes to the marginalized Israeli left. But Haaretz’s English language website has outsized influence in the West, particularly among left-wing Jews in the U.S., who must imagine Haaretz represents a sustantial portion of the Israeli electorate.
If you thought “Trump Derangement Syndrome” was bad, Haaretz has been suffering from Bibi [Netanyahu] Derangement Syndrome for much longer.
Chemi Shalev is a Haaretz correspondent who frequently covers U.S. politics.[*] He’s not on the extreme end of Haaretz opinion writers, but his anti-Bibi sentiment shows through in most of his columns. Shalev has a column today that explores a possibly bleak and frustrating future for the anti-Trump Resistance, one in which they suffer the same fate as the anti-Bibi movement in Israel.
If you can put aside some of the anti-Trump and anti-Bibi commentary, or at least put it in the context of Israeli left frustrations, the column is quite perceptive, Like Israeli Leftists, Trump-tortured American Liberals Will Learn to Live With Rage.
Of course, read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts I found of interest for discussion purposes:
I have American friends who are beside themselves on a daily basis. They haven’t had a day of tranquility since November 8, when the election results came in. They are furious non-stop, 24/7. Even on those rare days when Donald Trump hasn’t done something particularly contemptible, they are nonetheless outraged by the fact that he’s still their President….
The most significant consolation for my Trump-tortured acquaintances comes from their conviction that this can’t go on much longer. Even if Trump was elected fair and square, which is still in doubt, surely America isn’t irrational enough to allow him to continue governing for much longer. Trump has been at the White House for about 265 days, each of which, my friends assert, has provided ample evidence that he is unfit to serve in office. Surely, the end is nigh and their long national nightmare, to quote Gerald Ford after he pardoned Richard Nixon, will soon be over.
Israeli leftists are also deluded every once in a while into thinking that their suffering will soon end, but for the most part they’ve learned to live with the rage….
Let’s stop right there. This pretty much sums up the reaction to the 2016 election. Complete disbelief, an “I didn’t see it coming” moment that has manifested itself in obsession. A sense of betrayal by the electorate.
After surveying the frustrations of the Israeli left, particularly when it comes to “the occupation” and Netanyahu’s political endurance, Shalev concludes:
Trump might very well be impeached soon. If not, he might be voted out of office in three years. Failing that, the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – which hopefully won’t be changed – guarantees that he’ll be gone on January 20, 2025 at the latest, which is only 2660 days away. But even such a dim light at the end of the tunnel could actually be an approaching train. America will be a changed country after four years of Trump rule and it will be a different entity altogether after eight. Rather than things getting back to normal eventually, they may deteriorate beyond repair, as most Israeli leftists will tell you.
Like Israeli leftists, American liberals might also have to learn how to live with the rage. They will find ways to escape, to preoccupy themselves and to make peace with the direction their country is taking. They will then be able to live a full and enjoyable life, just like the frog who doesn’t mind the water heating around him until he’s actually boiled to death, or the guy who jumps from the 35th floor of a building and shouts, as he passes the seventh floor, “So far, so good.”
What I think this analysis misses, among other things, is how much of the Israeli left’s problem was self-fulfilling.
Israel’s enemies refused to fulfill the role they were supposed to fulfill in the leftist agenda. Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and much of the population under the control of the Palestinian Authority really do want to destroy Israel and drive out the Jews. It’s a religious war, not about a few miles of territory here or there. No amount of wishful thinking from the left has managed to change that. The point was driven home during the Second Intifada, with the prolonged gruesome string of suicide bombings and the Arab media glorification of the martyrdom operations. As if that wasn’t enough, Gaza turning into a Hamas-run Iranian and Hezbollah missile base after Israel left in 2005 rendered the wishful thinking of the Israeli left marginalized.
Yet rather than adapting to a changing reality-based electorate, the Israeli left held to its fantasies and increasingly turned against Israeli voters, who were deemed too stupid, bigoted, nationalistic, and unwashed to appreciate the wisdom of Haaretz opinion writers. The Israeli left never was able to present a viable alternative that was not worse than the current stalemate.
This has lessons for the anti-Trump Resistance, which is mostly from the left but also includes some #NeverTrump Republicans.
The anti-Trump Resistance is repeating the ways of the Israeli left, insisting that the people who elected Trump are too stupid, bigoted, nationalistic, and unwashed to appreciate their wisdom.
Every time an awards show devolves into Trump bashing, Trump gets closer to reelection. Every time a late night host, football player, NY Times columnist, or movie star engages in deranged anti-Trump antics, Trump gets closer to reelection. Every time a Trump voters’ concerns about illegal immigration are dismissed as bigoted, Trump gets closer to reelection. Every time the mainstream media throws aside even the pretense of neutrality and engages in a feeding frenzy, Trump gets closer to reelection. Every time a judge imbues a judicial injunction with anti-Trump politics, Trump gets closer to reelection.
So far, like the Israeli left, the arrogance of the anti-Trump Resistance is its most obvious feature. And like the Israeli left, it presents voters with no viable alternative.
It’s way to early to predict a Trump reelection, but if it happens, Trump will have Trump Derangement Syndrome partially to thank, much as Bibi has Bibi Derangement Syndrome to thank.
But the American anti-Trump movement shouldn’t totally despair. As Shalev points out, no matter what happens, Trump will be out of office for sure in 2660 days.
[*The description of Shalev’s role at Haaretz was updated after initial publication.]DONATE
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