Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Customary contempt for democracy - Amnon Lord

by Amnon Lord

The Arab MKs did not degrade Vice President Mike Pence with their ugly display, rather the Knesset and the symbols of Israeli statehood.

Facts instead of fiction – this is the only foundation for true peace. This is what U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday in the Knesset, and it is perhaps the axis point at the center of President Donald Trump's strategic policy revolution. The principle of telling the truth is the basis for all aspects of the Trump-Pence doctrine, not only regarding the Palestinians but the Iranians as well, and their approach to tyrannical regimes and belligerence toward friendly, democratic and peace-loving countries. It's no simple matter, because the previous president, Barack Obama, blurred the boundaries between history and false narratives; between democracy and terrorist dictatorships; between friend and foe. Which is why the effort by Trump and his vice president is no less than heroic, and the results after one year in office are positive, despite the crooked faces here and there.

All things considered, Pence's stopover and the crescendo in the Knesset have been far more exciting than what you would expect from a vice president's visit. After all, he isn't the president. We can look no further than previous Vice President Joe Biden's incident-laden visit eight years ago. But perhaps a lesson can be learned over there in the United States and other countries: Although you can generate bombastic headlines in the press, you will achieve very little of actual consequence by treating Jerusalem as your own backyard and displaying a lack of respect toward Israel. Case in point: Biden and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. No one will remember you though. On the other hand, the people of Israel will remember Vice President Pence. What's surprising are the compliments and warm embrace Trump has received from Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog. The considerable salutations from Herzog include appreciation for the president's integrity. We can already assume that Herzog will be reprimanded in certain circles as more extreme than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

From Netanyahu's perspective, his incredible trip to India last week melded perfectly with Pence's visit and created the stage for a week and a half of opportune media events. Over the course of Pence's three-day visit, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid wasn't mentioned. Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay apparently found a hiding spot next to Isaac Herzog's wife, Michal. According to the media, the opposition to Pence's visit is being led by the likes of Joint Arab List MKs Jamal Zahalka and Aida Touma-Sliman. Meanwhile, the cameras and headlines have been devoted to Netanyahu, Pence and President Reuven Rivlin, virtually without pause.

In contrast to Pence's opinion, however, the ugly display from Joint Arab List MKs does not indicate a lively and dynamic democracy. It was an act of sabotage against Israeli democracy. They exhibited nothing but contempt for all symbols of Israeli statehood, along with their scorn for democracy. The Arab MKs did not degrade the vice president, rather the Knesset and the capital of Israel. They have employed this strategy for many years now. Joint Arab List Chairman Ayman Odeh said before Pence's speech that he wanted pictures in The New York Times. Why? To embarrass Israel and for haters of Trump and Israel to be able to say: The Israeli parliament silences voices of "resistance."

Amnon Lord


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