The last two weeks’ parade of unfortunate events were no doubt trying for American opponents of the Trump administration. Following a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the president’s travel ban on a number of Muslim-majority countries, and already enraged by the administration’s heavy-handed tactics of separating children from their parents at the southern border, Democrats were further shocked by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s abrupt decision to retire. Still bitter over Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s blocking of confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Democrats now believe their worst fears are on the cusp of becoming reality. With the likely ascent of a right-leaning justice to appease Trump’s base (as of this writing, President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a former aide to President George W. Bush) many liberals envision a bleak future featuring the severe erosion of reproductive and minority rights.

Left and center-leaning Israelis are, of course, no strangers to the constant onslaught of bad news emanating from the government, leading to an inevitable sense of fatigue and, in many cases, resignation. They have, however, been offered a small glimmer of hope, with the indictment of the prime minister’s wife Sara Netanyahu for the inappropriate use of state funds in paying for private meals. While her trial is set to begin in October—and there is, of course, no guarantee that she will be convicted—many on the left revel in the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must now contend with his wife’s transgressions, putting a newfound emphasis on the multitude of investigations currently being carried out against him. For some, a foundering left that can’t seem to get its act together is no longer the key to ridding themselves of the prime minister. Only Netanyahu and his family members’ hubris and outright contempt for the rule of law will bring about his demise, making Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s eventual indictment all the more necessary.

In the United States, the panic surrounding the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice seems to have put a greater impetus on either taking back the House or the Senate during the upcoming midterms in order to block any more harmful initiatives, to begin the process of impeachment, or to otherwise hope that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations against the president for one of his various scandals bears fruit. Many were likely heartened by Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s recent statements that he’d be willing to cooperate with Mueller regarding possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as well as the seemingly deliberate distancing of himself from the president.

But the fact that the rhetoric of many American liberals is starting to mirror that of the Israeli left should hardly be comforting to Israelis seeking someone with which to commiserate. If the fatalism that has infected large swathes of the left-leaning electorate in Israel has now found its way into American political discourse, disappointment is likely to follow, and the ramifications will be far greater in comparison. The last decade of the prime minister’s seeming invincibility at the polls has not only led to the erosion of democratic norms, the normalization of extremist thought and rhetoric, and the polarization of Israeli society (and, according to a new V-Dem Institute study, reduced Israel’s standing from a “liberal” democracy to an “electoral” one); it has also destroyed the notion in many left-leaning circles of ever unseating him through conventional means.

Bibi has become, as the cliché goes, a “magician,” a consummate politician so adept at playing parties against one another and satisfying his base that he will only leave office when he so chooses. There’s no doubt that that his impressively long tenure may very well have contributed to a sense of entitlement, reflected in the equally impressive accusations of corruption leveled against him, but a left-wing victory can hardly be dependent on whether or not Netanyahu figuratively bites off more than he can chew. Much like the the belief that Netanyahu’s fate lies solely in the hands of the Attorney General, many American liberals have likened Mueller to some kind of liberal crusader whose ultimate mission in life is to bring about the end of Trump’s administration before he alters the United States beyond recognition and brings about the collapse of the liberal international order.

Discussion concerning the fate of the Supreme Court in both countries has become no less problematic. Left-wing fear of a nationalist coalition running roughshod over minority rights has invested faith in the High Court as the last bulwark against the forces of illiberalism. There’s no doubt that the current coalition’s routine attempts to undermine and threaten the independence of the court is disturbing and should give pause to supporters of democracy, but the power with which the court has been imbued—both literal and figurative—has made proposals like the now-frozen Override Clause a matter of life and death. Without the Court’s ability to strike down laws, conventional wisdom goes, the right will flood the Knesset with an unending amount of noxious legislation. Given the far more politicized and partisan nature of the United States Supreme Court, (the Israeli High Court has 15 judges and an age cap of 70) one can forgive the American left for its fear of a court monopolized by right-wing activist voices, leaving justices in power indefinitely. But even here, the power of the court cannot act as a replacement for elected officials.

Nonetheless, this hyper-dependency on either the courts or investigations against the powers of a sitting leader reveals a deep sense of passivity on the part of some Israeli and American liberals that removes the necessity for introspection. An emphasis on preventing the courts from becoming political tools with which to strengthen the executive and legislature, or in Israel’s worst-case scenario, a fear of their complete abandonment, is understandable. But liberal activists and politicians are not innocent bystanders shorn of agency or responsibility. Missing from this narrative is a frank discussion about how both societies have reached such a state of affairs, viewing individuals like Trump, Netanyahu, and their cohorts as some strange yet threatening anomaly, rather than symptoms of a much more widespread political malaise. So desperate have some people become that populist leaders have been transformed—by their opponents no less—into forces of nature who can only be defeated or contained by unconventional means.

Instead of defeatism, the left must continue to focus its energy on where it can actively affect change in the near future: the ballot box. For Democrats, that means aggressively getting out the vote for this November’s midterms, preventing a split within the Democratic Party between its centrist and left-leaning wing, and rallying around a relatively uncontroversial candidate. In Israel, the left’s challenges are a bit more daunting, but hardly impossible. Here, repeated bouts of infighting, ego, and cheap pandering have prevented the emergence of a united front against the political right, who, whatever ills can be said of it, has never allowed disagreements to keep it from presenting itself as a bloc against the left. Nor can the left rely on a less charismatic politician taking Bibi’s place in case of an indictment that may never come; as a colleague pointed out in these pages recently, there are a number of candidates capable of taking on the prime minister, including former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Praying for some undefined miracle to deliver us from our current predicament is the path of least resistance, and in some ways a comforting option for those individuals who are simply overwhelmed by the ugliness of the present. But such action smacks of both an intellectual and moral laziness; worse still, it smacks of cowardice.

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