Will Saudi Arabia's MBS save Israel from its political crack-up? With Micah Goodman

    enSeptember 21, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Israel's peace process and internal crisisThe future of Israel's peace process in the Middle East may influence its internal crisis, with potential for regional deals to stabilize Israeli politics and protect democracy

      The future of Israel's peace process in the Middle East and the internal crisis among Israelis are interconnected. The question is whether regional peace will calm the internal crisis or if the internal crisis will destroy peace. The author expresses optimism about Israel's future based on the resilience of Israeli society, as discussed in his new book, "The Genius of Israel," and encourages listeners to preorder the book for exclusive content. A notable character in the book is Mika Goodman, an Israeli polymath and podcast host, with whom the author has discussed the potential impact of normalization deals between Israel and Saudi Arabia on Israeli politics. The possibility exists that such deals could stabilize Israeli politics and protect democracy. Listen to the podcast for more insights from Mika Goodman on this topic.

    • Israeli society's crisis of governance: fear of external threats and government overreachIsraelis fear losing individual rights protection as the Supreme Court is the only safeguard against government overreach; proposed judicial reforms causing panic due to potential weakening of checks and balances; need for a balanced system of governance to ensure protection by and from the government

      Israeli society is currently experiencing a crisis of governance, as highlighted by the proposed judicial reforms led by Justice Minister Yariv Levin. According to Mika Goodman, this crisis stems from the anxiety of not being protected from both external threats and the government itself. In the absence of effective checks and balances, the only institution safeguarding individual rights from the government is the Supreme Court. The proposed judicial reforms, which include an override clause allowing the Knesset to override certain Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority, have caused widespread panic among Israelis as they fear losing their protection from government overreach. This highlights the need for a more balanced system of governance, ensuring both protection by the government and protection from the government.

    • Israeli government's sudden judicial reforms spark fear and anxietyReforms limiting supreme court's power and protest's impact on military raise concerns about Israel's future security

      The Israeli government's sudden and shocking judicial reforms, implemented without public preparation or mandate, have sparked widespread fear and anxiety among the Israeli population. Many Israelis feel that their protections from both the government and external threats are being weakened, as the reforms limit the power of the supreme court to protect citizens' rights and liberties, and the protest movement's impact on the military's readiness raises concerns about the country's defense capabilities. This crisis of confidence in the government's ability to protect both from within and without has left Israelis uncertain about their future security.

    • Israel's political crisis and potential peace dealsPausing judicial reforms could ease Israel's crisis, while historic peace deals may prevent or resolve it

      The current political crisis in Israel, which has led to protests and potential civil unrest, could be alleviated if the government were to pause its judicial reform efforts. This pause could potentially reduce the temperature and anxiety within the population, although some radical actions and opposition to the government may still persist. Meanwhile, there's a parallel development with the potential for historic regional peace deals between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. This peace process could have the effect of preventing or resolving the internal crisis in Israel and averting civil war. However, the relationship between these two developments remains to be seen.

    • Balancing Palestinian Progress and Israeli Ultranationalists for Senate ApprovalSecuring Senate approval for a proposed deal between Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh necessitates satisfying Democratic demands for Palestinian progress and maintaining Israeli ultranationalist support, a delicate balance.

      The proposed deal between Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh, which may involve advanced weapon sales and potentially a civilian nuclear capability, requires a 2/3 majority vote in the Senate. This means bringing Democrats and Republicans on board, and for Democrats, significant progress for the Palestinians is a necessary condition. However, some senate Democrats have expressed opposition to Saudi Arabia due to its past actions, making it a challenge to secure their votes. Furthermore, ultranationalist Israeli politicians, such as Bezal El Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, have shown they can threaten the government's stability over perceived concessions to the Palestinians. Therefore, striking a balance between satisfying Senate Democrats' demands for Palestinian progress and maintaining the support of ultranationalist Israeli politicians is crucial for the deal's success.

    • Israel's internal crisis and regional peaceThe Israeli government's balancing act between sacred land control and Palestinian peace, along with internal instability and the potential impact on the Saudi peace process, could determine the outcome of Middle Eastern peace efforts.

      The current political situation in Israel involves a complex balancing act between maintaining control over sacred land and reaching peace with Palestinians, while also appealing to both far-right and Democratic parties. This dilemma could potentially lead to internal instability within the Israeli government. The Saudi peace process may bring Israeli unity and regional peace, but it depends on whether the Israeli internal crisis is calmed or exacerbated. Benny Gantz, a potential moderate leader, could join the government to help stabilize the situation, but he may also be hesitant to do so due to personal gains. Ultimately, the outcome of these interconnected events will determine whether peace in the Middle East leads to peace within Israel or vice versa.

    • Benny Gantz's potential involvement in a historic peace dealBenny Gantz, considering national security interests, could join a Saudi Arabia-Israel peace deal, risking political future for potential historical impact.

      Benny Gantz, despite his past experiences with political betrayal, may consider joining a Saudi Arabia-Israel peace deal if it serves Israel's national security interests, calms Israeli politics, normalizes relations with Saudi Arabia, and shrinks the Palestinian conflict. This decision would be a risk to his political future but reflects his military background and willingness to put country over self. Israel, as a small country with a big story, provides its citizens with a sense of history and personal significance. Gantz's potential involvement in a historic peace deal underscores this idea, as he could touch and shape history in a meaningful way.

    • Israel's Collective Sentiment Driving ChangeIsraelis believe in their ability to shape their future through active engagement, leading to numerous initiatives and a strong sense of ownership.

      Israel, despite its small size, is a country with a significant impact and a strong sense of ownership among its people. This collective sentiment is leading to an explosion of initiatives aimed at making a difference, whether through protest or healing divisions. While the present may bring challenges and crises, the optimism among Israelis about their future stems from their active engagement and belief in their ability to shape it. The way these events are remembered and perceived may have a greater impact on Israel's future than the events themselves.

    • A traumatic experience with extreme right-wing governanceIsraelis are developing immunity towards extremism after experiencing the negative consequences of an extreme right-wing government

      The current extreme right-wing government in Israel and the extreme protests against it are creating a significant memory in Israeli history. This memory will serve as a reminder that extreme right-wing governance does not work. Before this government, extreme right-wing ideology was a fantasy among many right-wingers. However, implementing it as reality has led to a traumatic experience, much like how the second intifada destroyed the ideological left's fantasy of implementing pure left-wing ideology. This trauma will push Israeli history towards a more balanced, centrist direction, with pragmatic and moderate Zionist governments being the future. The current government's extreme ideology is a taste of what Israel could look like in the future, but it may also prevent that reality from becoming a reality again. Israelis are developing immunity towards extremism as a result of this experience.

    • Israeli government as a political vaccineThe current Israeli government acts as a bulwark against extremism, but overdoing it could lead to unintended consequences. Long-term trend towards moderate, center-right governments is optimistic.

      The current Israeli government can be seen as a political vaccine, inoculating the Israeli population against extremism and radicalism, much like how a vaccine exposes the body to a small dose of a disease to build immunity. However, there is a risk of taking an overdose of this vaccine, leading to unintended consequences. Despite some concerns, the speakers are optimistic about the long-term trend towards moderate, center-right governments in Israel. The demographic forecasts discussed in their book offer a more nuanced perspective than the doom-and-gloom outlook often presented. The show will be on hiatus for Yom Kippur and will return with a new episode the following Tuesday. Preorder "The Genius of Israel" at book atdansinore.com for a chapter sampler.

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