The U.S. presidential election on Tuesday is a fateful one, and not for Americans alone. According to the polls, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is leading the Republican candidate, incumbent President Donald Trump. But if there’s one thing Trump has taught the world during his four years in office, it’s that the only certainty is that nothing is certain. His years in power have resulted in a severe loss of faith in long-standing democratic institutions, to the point that even the election results may not be accepted as the last word.
The outcome of the election will determine America’s future, but its impact will be felt worldwide. While many governments will breathe a sigh of relief if Trump loses, many others will be sorry, primarily those belonging to the anti-liberal axis – Russia’s president, North Korea’s leader, Turkey’s president, Hungary’s prime minister, Brazil’s president and, regrettably, also Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who views Trump as “the best friend we’ve ever had in the White House.”
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Netanyahu isn’t alone. Recent polls show that almost two-thirds of Israelis think Trump is better for Israel than Biden. But a clear-eyed look at his government shows that many of his proclamations were merely symbolic. Moreover, he distanced a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, gave sticks to the Palestinians and carrots to the Israelis and encouraged dangerous messianic fantasies. Just last week, Trump and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a fan of Israel keeping the entire Land of Israel, gave Israelis a taste of all the goodies that await them in Trump’s second term, should he win, when they removed the American ban on scientific cooperation with Israeli institutions in the territories.
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The style Trump introduced to global politics, which has been echoed in Israel, is dangerous. His blind admiration for lies, half-truths, amateurism, aggression and destructiveness is second only to the contempt he has shown for scientists, bureaucrats and advisers who disagreed with him, as well as for the disabled, the poor, leftists, nonwhite minorities and soldiers captured or killed in battle. Trump cultivated alliances with dubious leaders, flattered dictators and damaged America’s relationships with Europe, NATO and the United Nations.
In Israel, too, he provided a tailwind for social Darwinism and Jewish hooliganism, which was expressed in contempt for the Palestinians and for the law, the justice system, state institutions and the media, as well as in alliances with anti-liberal regimes and the flourishing of populism.
It must be hoped that four years of Trumpism have been enough for Americans, and that they will choose to begin a new chapter – one that’s a little less interesting but involves a little more responsibility and solidarity – in the life of America, the world and Israel, too. It’s impossible to simultaneously think Trump is bad for democracy but good for Israel. Anything that’s bad for liberal democracy is bad for Israel as well.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.