Donald Trump leaves behind him a stronger but more divided U.S. This is not only an American paradox but an Israeli one as well.
There are some who believe that if it were not for his problematic personality, Trump could have been one of the most successful presidents in U.S. history.
But today’s America has become far more radicalized and sectarian. The left has been growing more extreme over an extended period of time and on the right, racism has reared its head in the past few years.
Dialogue between Trump supporters and Democrats has become nigh on impossible.
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The protests over George Floyd’s death did not take place during a period in which the status of Black Americans significantly deteriorated, but at a time when the nation was increasingly volatile and the power of fringe radicals was growing. Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Capitol was attacked by such maniacs.
This is where U.S. President Joe Biden enters the picture. He is not the most charismatic leader, but nor is he a loud and boisterous one.
Biden managed to distance himself from controversial issues, with his main mission now to lower the levels of hostility.
On both sides of the political aisle are people who see words like unity and reconciliation as obscenities, but this is his greatest mission.
A divided nation is ultimately a weakened nation. And it may just be that the centrist Biden is the right person in the right place at the right time.
The similarities with the current political situation in Israel cannot be ignored. At the end of a pretty good decade for Israel’s economy, the divisiveness only grew.
Common sense and reasonable dialogue have turned into finger-pointing and mutual contempt. Words like “scum” and “fiend” have become legitimate ways of describing one’s opponents, not only on social media but among politicians and academics.
And the media has not helped to calm tempers, from time to time lending legitimacy to activists whose main power lies in their profanity. That is not freedom of expression, but freedom of incitement.
This does not mean that the scenes of Jan. 6 in Washington D.C. will repeat themselves in the Knesset, the prime minister’s official residence or the Supreme Court. But the radicalization that leads to such incidents has already appeared inside Israel’s borders and it is a sign of weakness.
Israel needs a national mediator. With all due respect to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s achievements, he too is at fault for opening the Pandora’s Box that has led to this divisiveness.
The prime minister is not the only one culpable. He has supporters who see violence as a legitimate political tool, and he remains silent as they utilize it.
Biden’s speech on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, calling for unity and peace could be the beginning of a healing process.
And Israel desperately needs a Biden of its own as well.