A world leader decries investigations into his possible criminal corruption as an “attempted coup” based on “fabrications and a tainted and biased investigative process.”
No, not that world leader. This time it is Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime-minister-by-a-thread. Finally indicted on graft charges after months of anticipation, he became the first Israeli prime minister ever to face charges while in office. He insists the indictment will not impact his leadership, just as the country seems on an irreversible path to a third election in a year.
In a region with a scarcity of free and fair elections, Israel can’t seem to stop having them. From that perspective, things could be worse. Whether Netanyahu’s Likud party stands with him in his time of trouble remains to be seen. The possibility of his departure from the political scene, which he has dominated for nearly a generation, would provide the most significant shakeup of the field and possibly prevent a third inconclusive outcome.
On this side of the ocean, the U.S. House of Representatives continues investigating President Donald Trump. Few people, including Republicans, are making much of an effort to refute the basic facts. Evidence piles upon itself that the U.S. president indeed asked the president of Ukraine for a dirty political favour – a bribe – in exchange for military financial aid that had already been approved by the U.S. Congress. GOP responses to this evidence range from “So?” to the only slightly more nuanced argument that the president of the United States didn’t get what he wanted and the president of Ukraine did, so no harm done.
With Trump seemingly in thrall or somehow beholden to Vladimir Putin, and his party steadfast behind him, we are treated to the spectacle of a party that 60 years ago was trampling over individual liberties based on a largely false suspicion that “the Russians” were infiltrating the country’s government and threatening its entire way of life now responding to a disturbingly similar situation, this one far more provably real, with a shrug.
While Canada, thankfully, has no such level of political intrigue or corruption at the moment, a shocking diplomatic move last week has set the official voices of the Jewish community on edge.
The day before swearing in a new cabinet, the government of just-reelected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opted to vote at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, jumping on a dogpile led by North Korea, Egypt, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, none of whom should be arbiters of justice or human rights. To be clear, the vote means almost nothing in practical terms. But symbolism does count. And the vote was a slap in the face by Canada to Israel and those in this country who recognize it as our closest ally in the region for historical, moral and pragmatic reasons.
Some speculate that the shift in tone reflects the new minority government currying favour with the New Democratic Party, which has included some notorious Israel-bashers. That is probably a less likely reason than the campaign by Trudeau to win Canada one of the rotating seats on the United Nations Security Council. Where former prime minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to “go along to get along” in the anti-Israel hatefest that occurs annually at the UN was seen as a key reason we lost out on a seat, Trudeau seems determined to hedge his bets.
A prestigious seat on the Security Council would presumably elevate Trudeau in the eyes of the world after he frittered away the “Canada is back” optimism of four years ago by failing to meet climate targets while bhangra dancing across the world stage.
Regardless of the motive, it is a reprehensible act that could have serious implications for the political orientation of Jewish Canadians in the next few years. Coming as it does while the ink is barely dry on the results of an election in which Liberals mostly made the right noises to Jewish and pro-Israel Canadians, it seems a particularly brutish little dagger to unsheathe now.