It is a truth universally acknowledged that every pol facing a scandal or massive decline in popularity needs a change of scenery to revive his prospects. That’s why world leaders who either seek to cement their legacies or save their careers from immolation travel to foreign shores. In the latter category, they believe that a change of scenery may lead to a change of fortunes. Not to mention that it momentarily stops tongues wagging and gives the media a new optic on which to focus.
That’s one of the major reasons Trump plans to attend the G-20 meeting in Germany later this week. At home, his presidency is a shambles. States and NGOs are suing him and the federal government, right and left. His own party’s Senate majority failed to pass the Obama care repeal he’d promised since the beginning of his presidential campaign. He’s also tweeted two too many times about blood pouring from the orifices of women who have irked him.
In short, the American people, including many in his own party are sick of him. Try your luck elsewhere, they seem to be telling him. Which explains the itinerary of his European trip. The major EU states like France and England want nothing to do with him. He’d face massive protests and resistance if he set foot there. That only leaves the second tier states, specifically those with similarly right-wing, nationalist, anti-immigrant governments to his own. There are only two that fit the bill: Hungary and Poland. Hungary is bush-league in terms of Euro-stature, which leaves Poland: a conservative, religious society, where he can expect a warm welcome from the Catholic hierarchy and ruling pols, who hate civil rights, press freedom and free speech as much or more than he does.
Trump has made the colossal mistake of scheduling a meeting during G-20 with the very leader who stole him the presidency and may also cause its demise: Vladimir Putin. With the intense scrutiny U. S. law enforcement, intelligence agencies and the special counsel have devoted to his every move concerning Russia, the last person he needs to meet is Putin. But Trump is never afraid to step out into the street in a rainstorm, even if it means stepping into a six-foot deep puddle. The man clearly has a death wish and his wish may be granted if he keeps this up. And undoubtedly he will.
Modi: First Indian Premier to Visit Israel
India’s Prime Minister Modi is facing massive dysfunction at home of his own making. He almost single-handedly destroyed India’s largely cash economy by discontinuing major currency notes. Now he promises to “reform” the nation’s tax structure by abolishing local and state taxing authorities and replacing them with a single federal tax. It all sounds good until you begin contemplating how ruinous the whole adventure can be if it goes wrong, as the currency matter did.
Modi began his career as the governor of Gujarat, where over 1,000 Muslims were murdered in religious riots over a decade ago. Modi stood back and did nothing while his political allies orchestrated pogroms in Muslim neighborhoods. He rode the popularity that ensued to national prominence and leadership of the Hindu nationalist BJP Party. It was Netanyahu who did something quite similar, railing against Yitzhak Rabin to a Jerusalem crowd of frenzied settlers with blood in their eyes only a few weeks before the Israeli prime minister was murdered.
So what better way for Modi to change the music than travel to Israel and fall into the arms of a fellow Muslim-hater, Bibi Netanyahu. Their bromance is proceeding swimmingly. Bibi even offered the revolting metaphor for the two nations’ relations: “a marriage made in heaven.” For a brief moment I had a disgusting image of these two manly men fulfilling their wedding vows in each others’ arms. It was quite shocking.
Actually, this isn’t a marriage and if it was made anywhere it wasn’t made in heaven, but rather, as Jim says in Huckleberry Finn, in “the other place.” This is a marriage of convenience in which the two parties are brought together by their hatred for Muslims and their need to buy, sell and use weapons to enforce Occupation over millions of unwilling Muslims: for India it is Kashmir and for Israel it is Palestine. India’s war against Muslims is rooted in the cataclysmic Partition in which millions of Pakistani Hindus and Indian Muslims were ethnically cleansed from their respective homelands and forced to resettle. Israel’s war against Muslims is rooted in the Nakba catastrophe in which it expelled nearly 1-million Palestinian residents and forced them into exile throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. The foundation of both countries is rooted in sin. In a tragedy which has never been reconciled and justice which has never been fully done.
Instead of romance, this affair is rooted in weapons. Israel is India’s biggest arms supplier. Given that the armaments industry is one of Israel’s bigger economic sectors, this becomes a vital relationship.
Bibi to Embrace Hungary’s Fascist Premier
While we’re talking about Israel and political leaders seeking to change the subject through travel: Netanyahu has been on a whirlwind of international travel. He made his second trip to China recently. Next, he plans to visit Hungary. He too is trying to change the subject of his political woes. He faces three different corruption investigations, any one of which could end his career. Travel appears an excellent way to distract a public which has grown tired of his rule over them for 15 of the last 20 years.
In some sense, Bibi’s Hungarian jaunt is a perfect fit: Viktor Orban is a corrupt, nationalist firebrand who hates immigrants and the media as much or more than Bibi. He (along with Poland’s government) have abrogated the respective national constitutions, eroded judicial authority, installed nepotism as a reigning principle, and destroyed press freedoms.
But there’s a wee small problem with Orban: he’s an anti-Semite. Not a raving monster like those of past eras. Orban is a bit smoother than that. He’s turned George Soros into an enemy of the Hungarian people in a thinly veiled anti-Semitic attack that raises all the old Nazi tropes of Jews as the monopolists of world capital, etc.
You may also know Orban by the company he keeps. This week, Orban spoke favorably about his country’s World War II fascist leader, Admiral Horthy. It was Horthy who packed 400,000 Jews off to Auschwitz just months before the end of the War. This is the man Netanyahu has chosen to honor with his presence.
Israel, like the U.S., is so inured to the outrages perpetrated by Bibi that even scandalous choices like this barely raise an eyebrow. In effect, Bibi makes the trains run on time and that’s much of what Israelis care about: the economy is good, they get their summer vacations to Europe, they can send their kids to America for quality higher education, the kids and grandkids get high paying jobs working for high-tech startups. What could be bad?
Returning to Hungary, when Israel “sought clarification” from Hungary about this statement, Orban refused to apologize. And Israel meekly accepted the response. From this we can see something anyone with eyes in their head knew about Bibi: he has no principles, no values. Not even Jewish values. His only value is personal survival. Anyone who can help him, even the Devil, will get a friendly embrace.