On false promises and outright deceit

If our politicians are so cowed by powerful interest groups like the pro-Israel lobby or corporate sponsors or weapons makers or a wannabe autocrat that they willingly lie, then we have lost our Republic

NEWFANE — What makes politicians publicly embrace a lie when the truth is staring them in the face?

"There is an apartheid state here. In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state."

A simple statement of fact - in this case made recently by Tamir Pardo, a former head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, referring to Israel's current system of treatment of Palestinians.

Pardo is not the only Israeli official to say so. Former diplomats, leaders, security officials, and cultural figures - loyal Israelis who love their country - are making the same point. These are not people who would be accused of being antisemitic even by the rabid right-wing Israeli defenders-at-all-costs in the United States.

So, when an American member of Congress - in the most recent case, Rep. Pramila Jayapal - makes the same assessment, why is it immediately followed by a clamorous uproar as politicians stampede to the microphones to utterly condemn and denounce such statements as antisemitic and anti-Israel?

What makes politicians publicly embrace a lie, when the truth is staring them in the face?

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Why don't we ask Rep. Becca Balint? She lined up with her colleagues and threw Jayapal under the bus, voting to affirm that Israel is not an apartheid state and its government is not racist.

On the campaign trail, Balint told us how she would stand up to the lobbyists and powerful forces in Washington that are warping our policies and unduly influencing public opinion.

But Democratic Party realpolitik pressures whipped (almost) the entire party into line, and Balint put her notions about the dignity of the Palestinian people in abeyance in order to maintain her place as an up-and-coming future Democratic leader in the House.

Although Balint was quick to vote to condemn her fellow progressive House member, it took several calls and emails to her office to find out how she voted.

Balint isn't alone in her errant thinking about Israeli government policies and intentions. Sen. Peter Welch was asked to respond to a constituent upset about Israel's recent drift toward authoritarianism, a drift recognized by hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been demonstrating in opposition for months and who oppose the elevated platform given to Israel's president, Isaac Herzog, to address the Congress.

Welch did say on X.com (formerly Twitter) that "the pro-settlement agenda of the current Israeli government exacerbates violence and threatens the prospect of a two-state solution in the region" and urged work "toward peace." Yet, despite this stance, he said that he was encouraged that President Herzog reaffirmed his government's commitment to democracy.

That's all it took to satisfy Welch: a few meaningless words that are contradicted daily by the actions of the current Israeli government?

This makes as much sense as Donald Trump taking Vladimir Putin at his word about not interfering in U.S. elections in 2016. Some may say that this is not really lying, it's just political expedience and it happens all the time.

They are correct. It does happen all the time.

Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "You'll be able to keep your health insurance." Holding the Saudi crown prince accountable for murdering a U.S. journalist.

The list of false promises and outright deceit is long and sordid.

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So why are we surprised that the current Republican Party, whose ideology is proving to be out of touch with the nation and its voters, is resorting to flat-out lies about countless issues, from a so-called stolen election to climate change, election security, and voter suppression, to false claims about rising crime and border security?

If we had one political party that chose not to lie to us, we might still have some faith in our system of government.

Instead, faced with a barrage of pathetically laughable claims and counterclaims, we can only throw up our hands and give up on taking these people seriously. Why should any Trump supporter have qualms about accepting the lies his Don tells him when false statements are the coin of the realm?

If you're going to believe a liar, you are more likely to believe a good one.

* * *

Trump is the mother of all liars. He himself has said it doesn't matter what you say, just keep saying it. The Democrats lie to us, but they do a bad job of it, as if they don't feel comfortable.

But, by golly, if they have to toe the party line they will.

As a result, how could we possibly believe them? How can we not be disgusted with them for being so shallow and craven?

If our politicians are so cowed by powerful interest groups like the pro-Israel lobby or corporate sponsors or weapons makers or a wannabe autocrat that they willingly lie, then we have lost our Republic.

An argument might be made that we deserve to lose it because we have become too lazy to think or advocate for ourselves. Maybe we have been collectively traumatized by the worst of capitalism and the ravages of racism and can't help our inaction.

Whatever the case, if we continue to believe in a system that has been fixed against us, if we have any faith that the political class wants to change that fixed system, then we are doomed to watch this downward spiral accelerate into collapse.

Holding failed governments and politicians to account is not unpatriotic, or in the case of Israel, antisemitic. It is a necessary duty.

Only if we demand better will we deserve better.

Dan DeWalt, one of the founders of this newspaper, is a woodworker and teacher at Leland & Gray Union High School. He is a longtime activist for social justice, clean energy, peace, and restorative justice.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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