It May All End With Politics Again

It May All End With Politics Again

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has condemned the violence and terrorist attacks by Jews against those in the gay pride parade in Jerusalem and the firebombing against Arabs in Duma which killed a baby and critically wounded the rest of the family.  In fact there have been considerable outcries against the Jewish violence that was committed in Israel just days following Tisha B’Av, the Jewish National Day of mourning. 

What is yet to develop—and it is a bit early—is to see whether Israel’s right wing Government will be courageous enough to prosecute and bring to justice the perpetrators of these horrible attacks.  Will Bibi stand up to his own Likud Party and the other members of his coalition, or as many expect, will he make a quick whitewash of this horror?  Is his Government all about power or is he a moral leader? Does he have the ability to risk losing power for principle?

Bibi may be focused on Iran but should he fail to address the hostile climate that is now permeating much of his own political right in Israel, worrying about the threat from Iran may be trivial as his country implodes. Netanyahu must give ethical and moral leadership or Israel’s experiment with liberal democracy will be history. His feuding with Obama will seem petty if he does not become the leader he must be during these exceedingly troubling times for Israel.

Meanwhile the Israeli opposition and its rabbinical leadership need to demand action from the Israeli leadership. If they too kowtow to business as usual after the initial uproar, then they must also be held accountable. In addition, diaspora Jewry should demand that no quarter be given to any of those responsible for this violence. Not since the days of the Sabra and Shatila or the Rabin assassination has there been anything approaching such internal outrage; even the withdrawal from Gaza was largely peaceful.

Jews the world over must not watch other Jews, apparently, commit acts of terrorism in Duma, homophobia in Jerusalem, and attack one’s own soldiers in Beth El—all in one week–to pass without rabbinic outrage. Rabbis and lay leaders in the U.S. and throughout the world must demand Israel repair its own house with actions and not only with compassionate words.

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