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 I rarely if ever write about politics per se. All politics is messy and borders upon reviewing the worst instincts that exist within human behavior. I am not interested in washing dirty linen in public, and though I believe in democracy and its institutions and procedures, I am oftentimes unable to reconcile myself to the manner in which democratic elections or the legislative and executive processes are conducted. I nevertheless feel impelled – simply because I have to write a column this week and could think of nothing else to write about – to address the current political situation both in the United States and here in Israel.

Often, in political debate and in the media that covers it, the personal animosities, ambitions, and the likes and dislikes of politicians are covered over with a veneer. They want all to believe they are dealing with great and fundamental issues of government and human progress. However, sometimes the personal ambitions of the politicians become so apparent and their jealousies and arrogance so visible, that no matter how the issues are being presented and debated, the truths of the human weakness of conflicting personalities cannot be hidden.
I think that we live in such a situation currently, both in the United States and in Israel. The state of Israel is about to embark on another election campaign barely two months after an election was held and seemingly upon which the electorate had decided upon. Nevertheless, no government was able to be formed and therefore we are in for the treat of a second election.  The irony of this situation is that it is very doubtful that anything will be changed by this new election.
The media and the politicians claim that the new election is about fundamental issues that face us here in the state of Israel. The relationship between religion and the state, between the haves and the have-nots, social welfare legislation and equality of opportunity are all trumpeted by all the parties as being the main issues that can and will be decided by these new elections. But when we strip away all the false narratives, expert opinions, professorial analysis and the other static that fills our lives, we are all aware that these elections are about whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu should continue as prime minister of the state of Israel.
That in my opinion is the sole issue that drives Israeli politics today. He could not form a coalition because his political enemies – though they may be his ideological supporters – have come to dislike him to the extent that they no longer wish to work with him and to allow him to be the head of the Israeli government. He has been in power for a very long time and anyone who was has governed for an extended time must perforce pick up ambitious enemies. These politicians are no longer above deciding the fate of the country based on personal animosities. So, this new election will determine if Netanyahu has enough political capital to be able to form a government despite the personalities, jealousies and ambitions involved in so doing.
In the United States the country faces great issues: health care legislation, immigration policies, infrastructure funding, security concerns, an opioid epidemic and the usual budgetary and economic questions which are present in all governments and societies. Yet all these things are subservient to only one issue and that is whether Donald Trump should be president of the United States.
Trump was elected by a convincing electoral college victory. Nevertheless, half of the country did not support him and view him as being completely unfit to be the president of the United States. They resist every effort to try and solve these important issues and to address, through legislation and policy, solutions that could possibly ameliorate these problems. But none of this seems to matter except for the personality of Donald Trump and the rage against those that had the temerity to vote him into office. It is stunning to think that such important issues and of the pressing necessity to deal with them are completely ignored and subsumed by the one main issue as to whether Trump should be the president of the United States. We truly live in interesting times.
Berel Wein

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