Only hours after the results revealing the Likud Party’s lead in obtaining the most seats – 30 to its closest competitors’ 24 of the Zionist Union (formerly the Labor Party) — in the next Israeli Knesset (Parliament), the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the U.S. sent an email message to millions of U.S. residents congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what most likely will result in his re-election for a fourth term. The announcement includes a congratulatory petition for people to sign, and states in part:
“The people of Israel have spoken: Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu was just reelected to office, in a sweeping victory for those who value freedom and democracy around the world.”
Yes, this election is a “sweeping victory,” but not for those of us “who value freedom and democracy around the world.” Right-wing politicians who run and rule by fear and division stand as the only winners in this travesty: those hardliners who promote intolerance, hatred, xenophobia, and racism.
Only four days prior to the election, Netanyahu and his Likud Party were trailing in the polls. Just 48 hours before the election, Netanyahu, as a last-ditch desperation effort, finally told his truth: that he would never support the establishment of a Palestinian state “on his watch,” while increasing Israeli so-called “settlements” on the West Bank. Netanyahu-watchers had long suspected what turned out to be his previously voiced disingenuous interest in a “two-state solution.”
Netanyahu turned Israeli democracy into a platform of hate and suspicion by warning his right-wing supporters that the opposition parties had been bussing legally registered and politically left-leaning Israeli Arabs to the polls “in droves.”
Netanyahu’s brand of extremism is a terrible thing for Israel, for the Middle East, and for the world, but not much different from the GOP in the U.S., which also campaigns and rules (not governs) on a platform of hate, fear, and division.
“The Obama economy is a disaster. Obamacare is a train wreck, and the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind. The whole world’s on fire,” said potential Presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) at a speaking engagement in Barrington, New Hampshire on March 16, 2015. “The whole world’s on fire” is simply hyperbole concocted to instigate and instill horror and trepidation.
Though Netanyahu spoke directly in racist terms about Israeli Arabs, a number of GOP leaders currently employ the coded (“dog-whistle”) language of race and racism.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country,” said former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, of President Obama, February 18, 2015, and the dogs came running home.
In addition, the massive calls from members of the “Tea Party” for Mr. Obama to present his birth certificate before his election continuing long into his first term, the investigations into his time spent in Indonesia as a child, and inquiries into his African roots on his father’s side coexist as veiled racialized and racist messages.
Former Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, at a town hall meeting in Meredith New Hampshire January 6, 2012 branded Barack Obama as “the most effective food stamp President in American History.”
We must cut through the coded xenophobic, racialized, and classist language, for often when politicians use the words “poor,” “welfare,” “inner city,” “food stamps,” “entitlements,” “bad neighborhoods,” “foreign,” “not like us,” they tap into many white people’s anxieties and past racist teachings of people of color. Though white people comprise the largest percentage of current food stamp recipients, 34 percent, the common perception and societal stereotype depicts black people as abusing the system. In addition, the buzz phrase, “personal responsibility” now has become a catch phrase to justify cutting benefits topeople with disabilities, older people, andthose who have fallen on hard times and need assistance.
In addition,current calls by GOP leaders for laws guarding against so-called “voting fraud” are nothing less than attempts to limit voting by members of racialized communities, elders, poor, and working class people.
The Tea Partyers and members of Likud, includingBenjamin Netanyahu, give no real alternatives to negotiated settlements other than war. To remain in power, Netanyahu, Boehner, and McConnell have to talk tough, to exert their brand of hypermasculine bravado like every other warlord going back through time. One does not have to ride a horse shirtless and order the invasion of Ukraine to fall into this category.
Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party are in cahoots with John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and their right-wing Republican cronies who do not seek peaceful means to resolve conflict. What was true from ancient times remains true today, from the ancient Persians, Assyrians, Canaanites, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Celts, Scandinavians, Christian Crusaders, Ottomans, Islamic Jihadists, Fascists, Nazis, nationalists and neo-nationalists of every stripe:
Warlords don’t have use for peace because peace doesn’t have use for warlords.
Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press); editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon Press); and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge) and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense).