2015 was a good year. May brought the “Orange Chinook.” After 44 years of Conservative rule, the longest-serving provincial government in Canadian history, the NDP won a close-fought election. Then in October, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals defeated the Harper Conservatives to end a decade of Conservative rule. To quote Trudeau channelling Sir Wilfred Laurier, “Sunny ways, my friends, sunny ways.”

Then came 2016 and Donald Trump. Trump was a buffoon and this, I thought, cannot be a good thing. If he wins he could do a lot of damage. Well, he won and the damage was worse than I had expected.

A politician may be a buffoon but buffoons can be dangerous. Mussolini was a buffoon, so was Hitler, and they managed to destroy Europe. And, disturbingly, it became increasingly clear that Trump was made in the same mould. He was, and is, a fascist. Contemptuous of democracy and willing to do anything that could enhance his power, he ended his reign with two trademark fascist flourishes, a big lie and a display of political thuggery.

As I discussed in a previous post, I had lulled myself into considering democracy in the U.S. as simply a permanent part of its social order. But I was brought to my senses by Trump—nowhere is democracy invincible.

Now another country where democracy and human rights seemed embedded in its DNA is reminding us that these are not things to be taken for granted.

In a recent election in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu managed to scrape together a coalition to form a government. His cabinet includes some nasty components, including some of the most extreme right-wing elements in the country’s politics. These include parties that want to expand settlements in the West Bank such that a Palestinian state would be impossible, and to undermine the Israeli Supreme Court, freeing the legislature to do almost whatever it wants without judicial oversight.

Destined to be minister of national security is Itamar Ben-Gvir, a man who has been convicted for incitement to racism and supporting a Jewish terrorist organization. Expected to be finance minister is Bezalel Smotrich, a supporter of outright annexation of the West Bank. To even think of a fascist Israel is practically heresy, but what are to think of a government with such ministers as these? Long-time Israeli supporter and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has written, “We are truly entering a dark tunnel.”

The U.S. seems to be emerging from its dark tunnel. Trump was defeated in 2020 and humiliated in 2022. Rupert Murdoch, perhaps the Anglosphere’s most influential man, has turned against him and that usually proves fatal. There is of course Florida’s Ron DeSantis, a would-be heir, but he has a long way to go.

So whither Israel? Those who love democracy—and human rights generally—will be watching closely.

One thought on “First the U.S., now Israel”
  1. “To even think of a fascist Israel is practically heresy.”

    “If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize” …. not Voltaire. You can’t even have an opinion on Israel without being classified as antisemitic.

    Gods’ chosen people indeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Views from the Beltline

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading