Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu
by Anshel Pfeffer
Perhaps it’s now impossible to read any political biography without thinking of Donald Trump. The forty-fifth president of the United States looms so large in the global imagination that the impulse to measure all other politicians against him has become almost involuntary. But in the case of Benjamin Netanyahu, the …
a television series created by Yehonatan Indursky and Ori Elon
As a pitch, it would have sounded unpromising. A TV drama set entirely among the ultra-Orthodox Jews of Jerusalem, the men black-hatted, bearded with side curls, most of the women bewigged, their sleeves long and their skin covered up; the action centered on one family, specifically a widowed father and …
On June 8, British Prime Minister Theresa May learned one of politics’ cruelest lessons: that it is possible to win an election and still lose. Technically speaking, she was the victor, as her Conservative Party won fifty-six more seats in Parliament than its Labour opponents. But May lost her overall …
How did Theresa May, who campaigned, albeit in lukewarm fashion, for the Remain side in last summer’s referendum, end up pushing for such a hard-core version of Leave? Any explanation has to begin with the parlous state of the official opposition to the Conservatives now in power. In its postwar history, the Labour Party has rarely been weaker.
Although I had come of age in Habonim, a Jewish youth movement dedicated to the ideals of the kibbutz and steeped in Labor Zionism, I could have decided that the whole thing was a sham, that the Zionist enterprise was rotten from the start and that everything I’d been taught was myth and propaganda. Plenty of my Jewish contemporaries made precisely that move. But then, at that very moment, along came Amos Oz and In the Land of Israel.
In the Obama era, discrimination and prejudice persisted, of course, not least in the criminal justice system. Still, Supreme Court rulings in favor of affirmative action and equal marriage suggested that my faith in the Constitution’s ability to protect minorities remained sound. Now, though, it is being shaken to its foundations. We’ve seen hideous US presidencies before, but what is happening under Trump goes further. What the Trump presidency has confirmed is something I overlooked in 1998: that the Constitution may boast endlessly ingenious powers, but they count for nothing if the men and women charged with deploying those powers refuse to do their duty.
Until a year ago, the US was setting a lead of a very different sort. America’s first black president seemed about to make way for the first woman president. Once again, the US was offering an example to the world, affording a glimpse of what twenty-first century democracy might look like. Instead, Trump has provided a glimpse into a gloomier future, one of lies, ethnic division, authoritarianism, and the ever-looming prospect of war. It’s fair to say that most outside the US are counting down the days, like a prisoner scratching marks onto the wall, waiting for Trump to be gone, so that the world might feel steadier, and safer, again.