Disclaimer: This opinion piece reflects the authentic views of the individual USYer who authored this blog post. The stance on issues brought up in this article is not necessarily representative of the views of USY as an organization.
Throughout Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s three terms as a representative of the Israeli government, he has been embroiled in several controversies. The state of Israel’s democracy has often been compared to our current political situation during President Donald Trump’s administration. President Trump’s rhetoric has included racism, misogyny, and other forms of hatred towards minorities. He has disrespected the American people with his poor leadership. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing style is similar to President Trump’s as he stokes division with his racist opinions regarding Arab Israelis.
Earlier in 2015, Prime Minister Netanyahu made claims that Arab parties were “Voting in droves” in an attempt to vote him out of office. This was an attempt to encourage his base to head to the polls to minimize the Arab Israeli vote. This racist strategy ultimately failed, and the Arab Israeli voter turnout went up 12 points and rose to 61% participation. The problem with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement is that his intentions were to delegitimize the Arab Israeli vote and incite racism among his supporters. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s discrimination against Arab Israelis continued when he accused Arab members in the Knesset of being terrorist allies. He based his claim after three members of the Knesset met with relatives of Palestinians who were killed while attacking Israelis earlier in 2015. The Balad party, a left-wing, Arab political party in Israel, accused Netanyahu of using this meeting as a way to cause disputes for his own political gain. The Balad Party responded by saying, “After [Netanyahu] understood that there was no criminal wrongdoing in the contacts the MKs (Members of the Knesset) had, he is trying to capitalize politically to advance legislation that will harm the political representation of the Arab minority.” These actions are reprehensible and are beneath the leader of a modern country.
Not only has Prime Minister Netanyahu aroused racial division, he was recently indicted on the charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. He is accused of accepting gifts from businessmen, and in return, he would distribute favors to get positive coverage from the press. Prime Minister Netanyahu, similarly to President Trump’s statements about his ties to Russia, believes that the indictment is a “witch hunt”. Both politicians believe that they are under attack from left-wing activists. Currently, Prime Minister Netanyahu is fighting these charges while in office. However, the Israeli government’s framework allows for a Prime Minister to step away from power in order to clear their name, and then reinstate themselves. The controversial part of this situation is that Netanyahu has yet to resign, nor take advantage of this option. It proves that he sees himself as invincible, untouchable, and power-hungry.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s controversial actions are similar to the turmoil created by President Trump in the United States. Based on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reckless three-term reign, he has sowed the seeds of racial tensions and has violated the trust of the Israeli people.
Anya Weinrieb is the current Israel Affairs Vice President of Tzafon. A current Junior, Anya is a member of the Gilgool chapter.