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Zirpoli: Netanyahu copies Trump in their need to hold on to power | COMMENTARY

The world may finally be done with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has held on to power for 12 years and has done little to bring peace for the people of Israel or Palestine. In fact, he has used the conflict — sometimes instigating it — to remain in power. His illegal walls and settlements, stealing land from the people of Palestine, daring them to strike back so he can be the hero and have another opportunity to come to the rescue of Israel. Just in time for the next election, of course.

The antecedents to the start of the latest bombardment of Palestine by Netanyahu “protecting” Israeli was outlined by Sari Bashi, an Israeli human rights lawyer, and shared in an article by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times: “Israeli security forces, led by a prime minister desperate to stay in power to avoid jail on corruption charges, created a provocation by using violence and the threat of violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem. They stormed a sensitive religious site, used excessive force against demonstrators and threatened to forcibly transfer Palestinian families from their homes as part of an official policy to ‘Judaize’ occupied East Jerusalem, which is a war crime.”

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It seems enough may finally be enough, and an unlikely coalition of eight parties across the political spectrum, including one Arab party, will be led by Naftali Bennett, who will serve as prime minister for two years, and Yair Lapid who will take over after Bennett’s term, will be the end of Netanyahu’s tenure. This means Netanyahu can now be held accountable for multiple charges of fraud and breach of trust.

The same characters in Congress who continue to support former President Donald Trump rushed to support Netanyahu. As outlined by Heather Richardson Cox, “As soon as the coalition announced it was approaching agreement, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee flew to Israel to offer support to Netanyahu and to call President Biden weak.”

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Graham went on to say during his visit that the U.S. needed to send more financial aid to Israel as a show of support for Netanyahu. U.S. taxpayers already send Israel about $3.8 billion per year. Graham’s request prompted many U.S. voters to wonder why he wants to spend more American tax dollars for many things he calls “socialism” here at home, but supports for the citizens of Israel. For example, they have universal health care, something Graham, Cruz, and Hagerty refer to as “socialism” and refuse to consider for the citizens of the United States. The people of Israel also benefit from a heavily subsidized college and university education. Yet, Graham, Cruz, and Hagerty don’t want to expand free public education for American preschoolers and community college students, as proposed by President Joe Biden.

So, yes, American voters want to know why these Republican senators are so eager to spend our tax dollars on these kinds of social programs in Israel, but then turn around and say we can’t afford these things for the American people.

Netanyahu will not go quietly, of course. Like his friend, Donald Trump, he needs to stay in power to avoid prosecution. On Sunday, Netanyahu took a chapter right out of Trump’s playbook and said “We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy.” Let’s see, where have we heard that before? I guess we will let Trump and Netanyahu fight over who is the “greatest” victim of the “election fraud” in history.

Alon Pinkas, an Israeli diplomat, writing for the Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper warned his readers: “With his brother-in-arms Trump out-of-power, consumed by incoherent ranting and mumbling in Mar-a-Lago about how the election was stolen from him by Democrats and the media, Netanyahu has one last page to copy from Trump’s playbook: creating his own ‘January 6.’ As a result of incitement and disinformation, judges, prosecutors, and now also the leaders of the opposition are receiving extra protection after Netanyahu’s cult-like supporters threatened their lives.”

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This all sounds familiar, right? We use to hear this stuff from the usual dictators of the world, not from two of the greatest democracies of the world where election results were once respected and the transfer of power an important model for the rest of the world. But Trump and Netanyahu are working hard to change all of that and their efforts are receiving a lot of help from Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures.

Tom Zirpoli is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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