Israel is a bellwether of sorts
Should we be worried?
We usually think of sheep more as followers than leaders, but in a flock one sheep must lead the way. Long ago, it was common practice for shepherds to hang a bell around the neck of one sheep in their flock, thereby designating it the lead sheep. This animal was called the bellwether, a word formed by a combination of the Middle English words belle (meaning "bell") and wether (a noun that refers to a male sheep that has been castrated). It eventually followed that bellwether would come to refer to someone who takes initiative or who actively establishes a trend that is taken up by others. This usage first appeared in English in the 15th century.
something that shows what the general future of changes or developments will probably be:
I have had a love affair with Israel for nearly 50 years. First, by way of the religious education, most Midwesterners grow up with. Then, my first wife, who I married while we both served in the US Army, had been born in Israel, raised through elementary school in Montreal and finally, years later became a US citizen. One of my daughters, live there. My dad, a history teacher and who had studied comparative religion as an undergrad and graduate student, also had a deep interest in the region.
Since my first marriage, I have intensely studied not only Israel and its long history from a variety of perspectives, but the region as well. I even taught myself to read, write and converse in Hebrew, although now, I have lost most of this due to not using the language. As a nation that is home to three of the world’s great religions, what happens there matters globally. Even today, I see the nation as a bellwether of sorts, for a wide variety of issues, national security being one of them. Today, I talk about something at the core of most national security issues globally, for both the US and most of the primary players in global security, good and bad.
Today, is a short piece about a couple of those issues, that would be in our national security interests, to pay attention to.
First, a little background as to why this is my topic today. I talk with one of my daughters, living in Israel regularly and during yesterday’s phone call, we discussed the massive protests going on there the past 10 weeks. These protests are in response to Bibi’s government attempting some legislative changes to their judiciary, seen universally as a threat to the very values that the nation was founded on in 1948.
One of the interesting Israeli trends I have noted for the past few decades is that Israeli politics more or less follow where US politics lead, albeit with approximately a two or three year delay. It was a far more liberal (not in current US terminology) government that supported the peace accords between the Begin government and Sadat of Egypt, under the stewardship of President Jimmy Carter. Menachem Begin’s signature was on my father-in-law’s Irgun ID card, dating to just prior to Israel’s independence from Great Britain. To this day, Israel’s elections take on similarities to the US.
Bibi, Trump, Xi, Putin and Modi
There’s little difference between Bibi and Trump other than that Bibi probably scores about 50 points higher on an IQ test. Both are corrupt opportunists, unafraid to destroy their own nations or sell them out to power-mongers like Putin, Xi or Modi. None of these leaders care about the founding values and principles of the nations they lead. This is just a quick overview of who they are.
At its peak, the populist era we are finally beginning to slowly recede from globally, there was a focus on extinguishing functioning democracies from the planet. Racism, xenophobia, authoritarian oppression and fascism are the hallmarks of this evil trend. A decade ago, I would have never dreamed that the US or Israel would buckle under fascist rule… but then there was Trump, now Bibi, and both with an all-too-close relationship with all of the evil that Putin represents. In the meantime, Bibi has also pursued less than trustworthy relationships with the likes of Xi and Modi too. None of these leaders, even slightly embrace the morality of any religious pursuit, let alone just basic human decency.
Some in Israel from the national security community at one time or another in their career have thoroughly embraced profiteering such as the NSO debacle where these immoral profiteers sell highly developed intelligence gathering tools and tactics to the highest bidder, regardless of their human rights record. This is 180 degrees from the values that the nation was formed around. The Jewish State, born of millennium of brutal oppression and genocide lives by the motto, “never again” and for most Israelis, this doesn’t just mean against Jews, it’s anyone so brutally oppressed by authoritarian thugs like Putin, Xi, Modi and so many more. Bibi’s administration is attempting to convert the judiciary into an impotent adversary of their “Nazi lite government.”
In Israel, most believe that Never Again pertains to all humans, regardless of race, religion, creed or color.
This is the explanation to one trend to watch.
The other trend is how Israel is posturing itself, to deal with the changing shape of global spheres of influence. It’s no secret that Israel is now openly selling some of the world’s highest tech military hardware to authoritarian governments like Russian, China, Saudi Arabia and even India under Modi. While that this is a good business model for the sellers, it’s a poor model of responsible arms sales. These governments are all preeminent examples of brutal, oppressive governments that don’t give a damn about human rights.
These governments, now coming into a close partnership with Bibi’s horde, border on alliance and are threats to human rights globally. Still, some of Israels finest minds are enabling the same behavior in these nations that was the very reason for the birth of the modern Israeli state. Profit is not the “end all, be all” if it comes at the expense of a single human being brutally oppressed by immoral thuggery. This is not just my opinion, but the opinions of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the streets, protesting for the past 10 weeks. Bravo to them, liberal, conservative and everything in between are fed up with Bibi and his thuggish RWE, right-wing extremist government acting like the Nazi government that begat the rebirth of the Jewish State.
These two trends bear watching as important global bellwethers. First, whether or not that Israeli election trends will again mirror those of the US, and that will save the state from the brutal, immoral governance of fascists.
The other, is how Israel will adapt to the new global order that has been reforming since the end of the Cold War. Where will Bibi take Israel? Whether those in the US believe in globalization or not, the world now is immensely different than in the past. We are all connected. We all are victims or benefactors of the ripples emanating out from certain pebbles cast into the pond of economics, security, equitable commerce etc. Balance is everything and at this point in world history, no advantage should ever be granted to those who don’t value all human life.
The new Cold War isn’t between communism and freedom but between brutal fascists and those who respect ethics. At the moment, with Putin, Xi and Modi on the same continent, this just may be another east vs west standoff. If it is, we all lose.