Donald Trump lost his election, but even after his legal appeals were rejected, he thought that by refusing to accept his loss he was being tenacious. Once the election is over, rejecting the result is not tenacious, it is destructive to the system itself, akin to a child destroying the board after losing a game. Through his recalcitrant exit, Trump brought disgrace to the institution of the presidency, to those who voted for him and to the country he claimed to represent.
Benjamin Netanyahu has gone through three elections without a stable coalition. Bibi thinks that by holding on he is being a competitive political strategist, but the never-ending elections have cost billions of shekels, the political system has been paralyzed, the Knesset has not passed a budget for more than two years, and critical government services have been left unfunded.
The storming of the US Capitol and the incapacitation of the Israeli political system are both attributable to politicians disinclined to prioritize national interests over their own personal interests, pride and the irrational passions of followers who place leaders on superhuman pedestals.
With all respect to Netanyahu’s capabilities and accomplishments, there is more than one person capable of being prime minister. And with all respect to the Likud’s ideology, Netanyahu has become a liability to the party. Dogmatic allegiance to a politician is a dangerous idolatry. It is simply time for Israel to move on.
Many Trump supporters downplayed the dangers of having such a narcissistic personality in the White House. Trump was a source of innocent amusement for many until there was a mob ransacking the temple of Democracy while the world, including the enemies of Democracy, watched on TV.
The riot at the US Capitol was preceded by several acts of violence and intimidation such as the vandalizing of the personal home of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Similarly, the term “leftists traitors” has been painted on houses of anti-Netanyahu activists and has been showing up on signs at political events with increasing frequency.
Trump is responsible for contributing to the riot at the capitol, not just through his words immediately prior to the outbreak of violence but through his months-long campaign to present the election as having been “stolen.” It is in a similar vein that Netanyahu has attempted to present the legal proceedings against him as a political coup, despite the ample evidence against him already available to the public, such as the Noni Mozes recordings, the Elovitch text messages and other evidence.
Netanyahu’s legal defense has failed to have the cases against him dismissed, so he has sought immunity, both through his effort to advance the “French Law,” offering explicit standing immunity to the prime minister, and through his effort to invoke a preexisting law allowing the Knesset to vote to immunize a member.
America is undergoing a reckoning. What needs to happen before Netanyahu’s supporters also begin to think? Having a prime minister on trial for criminal offenses is destructive to Democracy. Having a man who has been recorded trying to manipulate media coverage continue in office is destructive to democracy. Having himself and his followers trying to place him above the law is destructive. We cannot continue being unable to pass a budget and fund critical services. While the siege of the capitol lasted a few hours, the paralysis of the Israeli political system has lasted more than two years. This is not skillful political maneuvering or competitive campaigning, it is the Israeli government incapacitated. It is anarchy.
Donald Trump was not psychologically capable of accepting his loss. Since Netanyahu is equally incapable of stepping down, other Likud Knesset members should have made that decision for him. Since they lack the courage, it is time for voters to throw him out before the situation spirals further out of control.
The author is a writer living in Jerusalem. Previous columns of his have appeared in media outlets in both the US and Israel.