Like the U.S., Israel is messy and flawed but, overall, a spectacular success and gift to the world.

But also like the U.S., it is flirting with autocracy: the kind of strongman government Trump’s team openly admires.

That would be a tragedy.

Tom Friedman explains (“Can Joe Biden Save Israel?”), concluding:

Israel and the U.S. are friends. But today, one party in this friendship — Israel — is changing its fundamental character. President Biden, in the most caring but clear way possible, needs to declare that these changes violate America’s interests and values and that we are not going to be Netanyahu’s useful idiots and just sit in silence.

If you have time for one more:

Could Israel go the way of Hungary?

. . . The new minister for communications, Shlomo Karhi, is seeking to shut down Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, one of the largest investors in original content in Israel. According to common estimates in the industry, the government’s intention is to divert at least some of Kan’s budget to commercial networks, and especially to one small hard-right news channel that is widely regarded as a mouthpiece for Mr. Netanyahu and his supporters.

Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition has also introduced proposals that would make critical journalism and documentary work close to impossible. One bill would forbid the airing of recordings done without the consent of the participants, while another would forbid recording soldiers in action, or even the online sharing of such videos. The taking over of the culture and media industry by the government would go hand in hand with efforts to limit the power of the courts.

It is not a huge leap to say these are the first steps in the populist playbook, the likes of which the world has seen in Turkey and Hungary. Nothing guarantees that Israel will not follow the same path. . . .

So much to applaud in tonight’s State of the Union.

> The basket case economy Biden inherited is roaring ahead.

> The crumbling infrastructure he inherited is being revitalized.

> The demoralized Free World alliances are now stronger than ever, with respect for our leadership restored.

> The lurch toward strongman-style government and “alternative facts” has been halted — at least for now.

These are huge things.



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