Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, published in the New York Times a scathing article against the government of Israel and in particular Prime Minister Netanyahu, accusing him of “Courting Disaster.”
The main reason cited for this stern warning is that a new bill that Netanyahu is preparing to pass will “effectively abolish the nation’s independent judiciary.”
A number of articles in this vein have been published recently, notably by Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, who began his career in the Middle East.
But the fact that Bloomberg has decided to take a public stand in a debate raging within not only Israel but also among American Jews raises this contentious issue to another level altogether.
He writes: “I have never gotten involved in its domestic politics or criticized its government initiatives. But my love for Israel, my respect for its people and my concern about its future are now leading me to speak out against the current government’s attempt to effectively abolish the nation’s independent judiciary.”
He adds: “A large number of business leaders and investors have spoken out against the government’s proposal, publicly and privately. And in a disturbing sign, some people have already begun pulling money out of the country and re-evaluating their plans for future growth there. As the owner of a global company, I don’t blame them.
“Companies and investors place enormous value on strong and independent judicial systems because courts help protect them — not only against crime and corruption but also government overreach. Just as important, they protect what their employees value most: individual rights and freedoms.”
I don’t know enough about the situation in Israel beyond what I read. However, it is one of the few times that the tone of the debate being conducted is polemical, sounding the alarm bell even for the survival of Israel.
What particularly caught my attention and interest in this article is that it is also relevant to us. Specifically: Diaspora Jews feel it is their duty to voice their disagreements on major issues with decisions made by the government of Israel.
Of course, they also contribute a lot. Bloomberg himself in his article provides a list of major philanthropic and investment projects he has undertaken and supported. And so, because of this, namely the love and assistance they give to Israel, people like him feel they have the right to intervene and speak critically.
Bloomberg also writes about the bill: “It would also undermine the deep attachment millions of people around the world feel toward the country, often because of the pride our parents instilled in us not only for its Jewish character but also for its strong commitment to freedom.”
Our Community has over time blindly followed the decisions of Athens – even the Junta. This serves neither the country nor ourselves. On the contrary.
It is a sign of maturity, self-confidence, and love for Greece to disagree where necessary.
What General Makriyannis wrote in his memoirs, when he noted that he criticized the wrongdoers because “I too have a stake in this country,” applies here.
We, the expatriates as well as the Hellenes born in the United States, also have a stake in Greece. Even if we do not make the same efforts and sacrifices as the great Makriyannis or Jewish Americans.