By Morton A. Klein, ZOA National President
(November 20, 2022 / JNS) “Democracy is at stake” was a major theme voiced by President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party throughout the recent U.S. midterm elections.
For instance, during a November 2 speech entitled “On Standing Up for Democracy,” in which Biden accused “MAGA Republicans” of voter intimidation, the president asserted: “Democracy is fundamental. … Democracy is on the ballot for all of us. … Autocracy is the opposite of democracy. It means the rule of one: one person, one interest, one ideology, one party. … Democracy is under attack because … [of the] refus[al] to accept the results of the 2020 election … the will of the people. … Democracy means the rule of the people—not the rule of monarchs or the monied, but the rule of the people.”
He admonished, “The lives of billions of people, from antiquity until now, have been shaped by the battle between these competing forces: Between the aspirations of the many and the greed and power of the few, between the people’s right for self-determination and the self-seeking autocrat, between the dreams of a democracy and the appetites of an autocracy.”
Unfortunately, the Biden administration doesn’t seem to believe in those principles when it comes to accepting the results of the Jewish State of Israel’s November 1 election. Instead, the Biden administration is acting like an autocrat—dictating to Israel’s democratically-elected representatives who should become Israel’s defense minister and what policies Israel’s government must or must not adopt.
Israeli Jews are sick of weak responses to and appeasement of the Palestinian Arab terrorism that has destroyed the lives of so many innocent Israeli Jews. During the first nine months of 2022, Arab terrorists perpetrated 1,781 terror attacks. That’s almost seven attacks every single day. This is an intifada terror war. And it is continuing. Just this week, an Arab terrorist murdered three innocent Jews (including the beloved father of six children, Tamir Avihai) and injured another eight innocent Jews in a vicious car-ramming and stabbing attack in Ariel.
Israelis thus voted to give the Likud-Religious Zionist-Shas-UTJ bloc, representing religious and strong pro-Israel policies, an overwhelming mandate. The Religious Zionist Party, led by attorney Bezalel Smotrich, which takes a strong stand on combating Arab terror, received an impressive 14 Knesset seats, becoming the second largest party in the incoming government.
But now, Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly told Smotrich that he opposes appointing Smotrich to certain ministerial posts due to concerns about the Biden administration’s hostility towards Smotrich’s party.
This is a disgraceful interference with Israel’s democracy. The Biden administration should have absolutely no say as to who Israel appoints as any minister.
In addition, Netanyahu reportedly told Smotrich that Israel needs to act “moderately” in terms of security and diplomacy for the rest of Biden’s term, especially in regard to Judea and Samaria.
“Act moderately in terms of security”? There’s an Arab terror war going on! You can’t combat Palestinian Arab terrorism “moderately.” Acting “moderately” really means adopting left wing appeasement policies that no sane sovereign nation faced with constant terror attacks would adopt. Acting “moderately in terms of security” means sacrificing the lives of innocent Jewish men, women, children and babies. And losing even one Jewish life is too high a price to pay for appeasing the far-left hostile-to-Israel Biden administration.
Acting “moderately” in terms of diplomacy means throwing away the current wonderful opportunity provided by the Israeli electorate and the Almighty to enact real pro-Israel policies. Acting “moderately” in terms of diplomacy means continuing to discriminate against Jews building homes in the lawful Jewish homeland; allowing massive illegal Arab building on Jewish lands that endangers Jewish communities; failing to undo the unlawful Lebanon-Hezbollah maritime surrender; and failing to act strongly to stop Iran—among other dangerous policies.
Also this week, Biden’s Ambassador to Israel, Thomas Nides, again engaged in his habit of arrogantly making demands that endanger Israel’s security and violate Israel’s sovereign rights and international law. Nides stated, in response to the Religious Zionist Party’s sensible proposal that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria should be governed by the relevant ministries, rather than by the IDF, that the U.S. would “push back against” and “fight” such policies, which Nides misleadingly called “annexation.” (“Annexation” means taking someone else’s territory. Judea and Samaria are lawful Israeli land.)
In 1982, when then-Senator Biden threatened then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin regarding settlements, Begin stood up to Biden. He famously told the senator: “I am not a Jew with trembling knees.” Netanyahu should adopt the same strong stance towards Biden, Nides and the rest of the hostile-to-Israel Biden administration, especially regarding the administration’s attempts to interfere with Israel’s ministerial appointments and policies. Biden never complained about the radical Ra’am Party being part of the Israeli government. And he never complained about extremist, anti-peace radical Mohammed Shtayyeh being appointed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
As I wrote in a press release congratulating Netanyahu and the pro-Zionist bloc on their election victory: “A solid pro-Zionist government is a G-d given opportunity that can finally enable Israel’s leaders to courageously take the vital steps that are needed to ensure Israel’s security and future. These essential steps were delayed for too long, while Israel struggled with unstable coalition governments. …
“As a longtime friend of Professor Benzion Netanyahu (Bibi Netanyahu’s late, beloved father), I know that Professor Netanyahu would be immensely proud of Bibi for this great electoral victory, and would wish for Bibi to use this great opportunity to strengthen and secure the Jewish state.”
Morton A. Klein is the National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).
This op-ed was originally published in JNS and can be viewed here.