From Israel: “The Thread Has Snapped, and Now?”

Last I wrote, the negotiations between former Prime Minister Netanyahu, head of Likud and leader of the Opposition, and Attorney General Mandelblit regarding a plea deal were hanging by a thread.
Now the negotiations have collapsed.

Credit: Fenchurch Law
It is almost always the case that there is more to a story in the political sphere than what is revealed publicly, and this situation is certainly no exception. 
On Monday, Netanyahu declared that rumors that he was considering a deal which included moral turpitude – which would have required a seven year hiatus from politics – were incorrect, that he was never considering this. In a video in which he addressed the public he expressed gratitude for the support he has received, which has moved him greatly.  
“I will continue to lead the Likud and the national camp in order to lead the State of Israel – on your behalf,” he said.

Credit: Twitter @theIMEU
It subsequently became clear that before Netanyahu had made this announcement, Mandelblit had already informed his lawyers that negotiations with him were at an end, and if Netanyahu wanted to continue negotiations it would have to be with his successor. It might well be that the negotiations collapsed over the issue of moral turpitude, but we don’t know.
There was no hint from Netanyahu that he was contemplating a return to negotiations later – which, of course, does not totally exclude that possibility.
It is a given that the leaders of the current government coalition, Bennett and Lapid, are dancing a jig over this state of affairs.  
Credit: Marc Israel Sallem
The mere possibility that Netanyahu might be out of the picture had already begun generating a certain unrest, a fraying of cohesion, within the coalition.  Now they clearly hope to proceed as before.
But the question remains: Where does this leave our nation?
Credit: NoCamels
My friends, fervently do I wish there were an easy and clear answer, but there is not.  It is impossible to consider all of the various and complex parameters of the situation here, but we must review the basics. 
My focus has been on the horrors of the current government and that hasn’t changed (more about this below).  A coalition that depends on Islamists to survive and is forever caving to the demands of Mansour Abbas is beyond shameful.  A government that contains within it a deputy minister (Yair Golan) who tells the rioting Bedouins that he is with them has lost credibility.
A plea deal that required Netanyahu to take a hiatus from holding a political office would likely have shifted dynamics in a way that might well have caused the implosion of the government.  That possibility is off the table, at least for now.  And there is a level at which this is very disappointing.
I am actually reduced to considering how much of the damage the current government is doing can be reversed when a right-wing government finally takes over. The answer is that some things will be able to be reversed, but other things will be a lot harder to undo. 
But here is the flip side.  I’ve already indicated, more than once, that I thought the charges against Netanyahu were not legit – they were politicized, an attempt to do him in.  This being the case, if Netanyahu were to have agreed to terms that required him to step down from his position, then those within the “justice” system who wanted him gone would have won.  Remember, Mandelblit could have agreed to a plea deal that didn’t require a hiatus from office, but he refused to do so.
This would not only have been unfair to Netanyahu, this would have worked against the country’s best interests.  There are those who are deeply concerned that if this had worked with Netanyahu it would have set a precedent, and have been embraced as a method for bringing down others.  From that perspective it seems clear that it is good that Netanyahu didn’t agree to Mandelblit’s parameters for a deal, good that he will see through the process in court.  
You see Netanyahu here, backed by Likud ministers, making a statement before he entered court to begin his trial, May 2020.  (Yes, it drags on and on.) 
Credit: Yonatan Sindel/GPO
Alluding to prosecutors as the “Just Not Bibi gang,” – abetted by a “left wing media” – he said: 
I am appearing here today, as your prime minister, standing tall and with head high…These investigations were tainted and stitched-up from the first moment.
But playing devil’s advocate here: it might be considered that bringing down the current government and replacing it with a right-wing government is our best bet for securing very necessary changes in the justice system.  As long as this government stands, the process is delayed.
There is reason for Netanyahu’s expression of gratitude for the support of the people. Not only have there been those urging him to keep fighting, we see statistical evidence as well. 
Once there was some indication that the government might fall, a number of polls were done to get a sense of how things would play out if there were to be an election.  In all the polls, Likud was ahead of every other party, but secured the most mandates with Netanyahu at its helm.  He is still the choice of more voters than any other candidate and has a solid body of support.
Once there was a possibility that Netanyahu might no longer head Likud, others began to come forward openly with an eye to that position.  In those polls, former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat came out strongest after Netanyahu.  
Credit: Twitter
Now that Netanyahu has indicated he is not going anywhere, Barkat – along with almost all the others: Yisrael Katz, Amir Ohana, Miri Regev, and Tzachi Hanegbi — has stepped back.  He has, in fact, approached Netanyahu with statements about how they have to work together to defeat the current government.  Barkat is a master at staying in the public eye and showing how he’s doing good things.
The one person who has not pulled back is Yuli Edelstein, former Speaker of the Knesset.  A very decent man who showed considerable courage as a refusenik in Russia, he has indicated that he will challenge Netanyahu for leadership of the Likud because he believes a change is necessary to bring the government back to the right. But Yuli has no chance.
Credit: i24News
Now as to the latest “gambit” of our government, which further weakens Israel’s interests.  This is from Regavim (emphasis added):
“Regavim first petitioned the High Court of Justice over a decade ago for the evacuation of Khan al Ahmar, the illegal squatters’ camp encroaching on Route 1 and the Jewish community of Kfar Adumim.
“This evening [January 25], Amit Segal reported on Channel 12 News that the Bennett-Lapid government intends to relocate the squatters a mere 300 meters (330 yards) away from their current location.
This hare-brained scheme, hatched by the Ministry of Defense, will turn the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in Judea and Samaria into a permanent, recognized Palestinian settlement.
“**The PA targeted this point on the map precisely because of its critical strategic value as the link between Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho – an area where there is no Palestinian Arab presence. Enabling the takeover and de facto annexation of this strategic location will be a fiasco for the security and strategic integrity of the State of Israel.**
The Israeli government invested millions, preparing an alternative location for relocation of Khan al Ahmar on Israeli state land in Jahalin West, but the relocation of the squatters has been stalled solely due to European pressure.
“It is inconceivable that the very same members of this government who repeatedly attacked  Netanyahu for his failure to evacuate the squatters of Khan al Ahmar are now responsible for this bizarre, pathetic alternative – one that is far worse in every way.
The planned relocation will do little to improve the lives of the squatters, but it will set a dangerous precedent of state-sanctioned annexation for the dozens of illegal squatters’ camps throughout the region that were established according to the Khan al Ahmar model.”
Credit: Regavim
Today (Thursday) is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Israel has a different remembrance day – Yom HaShoah – in April, but this day does not pass unnoticed.
I urge you to read Jonathan Tobin’s piece, “The Holocaust Remembrance Day rule that proves everyone loves dead Jews” (emphasis added):
The growing volume of lip service paid by the world to the memory of the Six Million is neatly matched by the complacence about or support for contemporary Jew-hatred…
“As it is every year, this will allow politicians and other figures to make solemn declarations about the need to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and to stand against anti-Semitism and hate of any kind. The speeches will remind all that we must use our knowledge about the Holocaust to ensure that similar tragedies are ‘Never Again’ allowed to happen.
But these will be largely empty words. That’s true not just because most of the people uttering them will be merely going through the motions in a massive exercise in virtue-signaling. It’s also because it’s clear that the growth of anti-Semitic hate speech and actions around the world has been neatly matched by the equally growing volume of lip service to the Holocaust…
“…some of the same institutions that are happy to join in the chorus of condemnations of the events of 80 years ago often provide platforms for those who are inciting against Jews today.
“As the title of Dara Horn’s popular book states, People Love Dead Jews_…
“The words we’ll hear spoken on Jan. 27 are, to be sure, better than the open Jew-hatred we hear from Iran and others who deny the Holocaust while plotting a new one. However, the only real measure of opposition to anti-Semitism is how willing you are to stand in solidarity with the rights of live Jews, not whether you think the Nazis were bad. So long as the increase in anti-Semitism is keeping pace with sympathy for dead Jews, Holocaust Memorial Day is simply a means for those who are indifferent or hostile to Jewish survival to virtue signal. As such, it may be doing more harm than good.”
As we look at the horrifying increase in anti-Semitism in the US, we will find George Flesh’s column, “The Numbers Don’t Lie” most instructive.  It is a piece that should be saved and shared widely (emphasis added):
“…A Jew is far more likely to be a victim of a hate crime than a black person, a Muslim, a Hispanic or an Asian. This fact is not well-known, yet it is critical to understanding the extent of Jew-hatred in America.
“The reason why it is overlooked is the FBI’s method of reporting hate crimes. The FBI website lists 2020 hate-crime numbers for various ethnic and racial groups, but it does not provide the number of hate crimes per capita for each group…
“A Jewish person is approximately twice as likely to suffer a hate crime than a black person or a Muslim, 10 times more likely than an Asian or a Latino and 20 times more likely than a non-Hispanic white…
“Who are the perpetrators? On this crucial question, the FBI’s published statistics are silent. The Texas attacker and many others have been Islamist fanatics. Neo-fascist and Antifa thugs are also active threats. But perhaps the biggest challenge is the normalization of Jew-hatred in the guise of attacks on Israel. It is often said that criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic. True, but often the denunciations indulge in classic anti-Semitic tropes or hold Israel to a standard not expected of any other nation…
“…for those, Jews included, who don’t believe that Jew-hatred has become an ominous threat in America, a closer look at the hate-crime data may be a wake-up call…
“Our Jewish leaders have made support for social-justice causes a major priority. Jewish organizations are enthusiastic supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ+ rights, and have consistently opposed Islamophobia. With notable exceptions, such support and alliances have failed to produce reciprocal support for Jews and Israel. It is now time to attack the sources of Jew-hatred and use the community’s limited resources to protect Jews first.  As the rabbi in Colleyville has demonstrated, being a nice guy is no protection against a violent ideologue blinded by hatred.”
A wise and important message. 
As to what happened to the rabbi in Colleyville, I intend to come back to this in my next posting.   There is a great deal more to say.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.