Saturday, March 25

A "Guide" For The Perplexed Israeli Electorate

The clock is ticking towards countdown when Israeli citizens go to the polls to elect a new government. Why is this election different from all other elections? This could be the first question for the upcoming Passover (Pesach) Festival, which will occur two weeks after the election results are well known. Two major points characterize these elections:

  1. There is indifference and apathy that will result in a low voter turnout on Election Day.

  2. Traditional party loyalties are shifting resulting in predictable results as illustrated by the polls.

There will be a tremendous floating vote, the significance of which is unpredictable, even though the result is clear-cut. It could affect the nature of the coalition that the winning party will form in order to form a stable government.

Never in the history of the State of Israel have there been so many changes in party loyalties. Major players in both the Likud and Labor parties have changed party loyalties. Two factors are responsible for that:

  1. The unilateral disengagement from Gaza and the re-allocation of the Gaza Strip settlers to other areas caused a break in the Likud between those for and against the disengagement. The Likud mainstream ostracized PM Ariel Sharon for this and his position in the party became untenable. He broke away forming the Kadima party taking with him many Likud members who supported the disengagement.

  2. The election of Amir Peretz as Labor Party leader also caused a schism in its ranks when Shimon Peres, the veteran Labor Party leader, bolted the party for Ariel Sharon’s Kadima Party. Other veteran members such as Haim Ramon and Dalia Itzik followed suit. They were not prepared to accept Amir Peretz as leader of the Labour Party. Their resignation was personal rather than ideological.

These factors sent shock waves throughout the Israeli political spectrum. This is the first time that a newly formed party composed mostly of ex Likud and Labour members have excellent chances of gaining the most seats contrary to previous mushroom parties in the past such as Dash, Third Way, Central Party and now Shinui which disappeared and will disappear into oblivion after the elections.

The issues that Israel faces are very serious indeed. It is not the purpose of this article to deal with these issues, which would involve the writing of a number of articles on each issue. The new government will have to address many issues such as peace with the Palestinians, the growing crime rate that includes organized crime, petty crime, juvenile crime, Knesset Member corruption and many others. Many of these problems had increased in their seriousness during the last Knesset. The quality of many Knesset Members had reached a new low during the 16th Knesset.

Corruption amongst some Knesset Members resulting in the conviction of two members, Omri Sharon and Noami Blumenthal and the waiting list of investigation of members such as Tzachi Hanegbi, Shlomo BenIzri and a host of others. Many of these police investigations will result in convictions.

A reason for the low voter interest is that many Israelis have lost faith in politicians and see them as corrupt individuals interested in their own interests by gaining power and cheating those who vote for them. They do not wish to exercise their basic voting right for that reason.

This is unfortunate and erodes democracy. It also shows up the weakness in Israel’s democracy, which allows for so many party lists in a clumsy proportional representation system. No party stands a chance of gaining an absolute majority under this system. As usual, there will be wheeling and dealing by the party list that gains the most seats to form a ruling, stable coalition after the elections. The result of the coalition deals will be a number of flexible compromises on ideology and promises that will leave many citizens dissatisfied as has been the case in the past. The election results after this upcoming Election Day will be no different. This creates a feeling of futility and frustration leaving an unanswered question in the minds of many of the relevance of bothering to vote.

Despite the obvious drawbacks of the Israeli electoral system, this is all that we have in order to have some influence on the nature of government we would like to see. People should be encouraged to exercise their basic right to vote. Criteria for government in many ways are personal. We can only fight corruption by choosing the parties that are untainted by the corruption brush at the ballot box.

Peace with the Palestinians is an important issue. Many view Kadima as the party that will win the elections. The coalition that it will form depends on voting patterns of the electorate. The ideology of Kadima is centre. This means that it will move to the left or right depending on its coalition partners. If there is a right wing coalition, chances of revival of a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, moribund as it is today, will be even more remote. There will be no future withdrawals and the occupation will continue as well as increased defense spending to maintain it not to mention the loss of lives of our soldiers in defending settler outposts. If Labour and Meretz form the dominant, coalition parties with Kadima then the chances of peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world has a better chance of fruition. The government would be more progressive in its attitude towards social issues and civil rights for all Israel’s citizens, irrespective of their religion and creed. The extreme right wing parties are showing signs of disturbing racism towards Israel’s Arab citizens.

A government pandering to the whims of the establishment religious parties and the right wing settler movements will ruin Israel’s standing in the world as well as her credibility. It is incumbent on all citizens to exercise their vote on Election Day in order to influence the direction of Israel in the future. It should also be a vote for clean government and respect for the laws and values that we hold.  

2 comments:

Fern Sidman said...

COMMENTARY ON ISRAELI ELECTION RESULTS

BY: FERN SIDMAN

The election results are in and the immediate future of Israel is in deep peril. Despite the low voter turnout, it appears that the Kadima, Labor and Meretz coalition has taken power with the lowest coalition majority in the history of the state.

At Mr. Olmert’s victory speech, his ominous policies were clearly vocalized. “The people have spoken clearly, they want Kadima,” Olmert boomed, adding that the dream of the Greater Land of Israel must be repudiated “and Jews, with much pain, must be evacuated.”

Olmert’s words were echoed by Shimon Peres of Kadima, who announced Tuesday night that the future coalition will be one that will promote the “turning inward” plan – a new euphemism for unilateral withdrawals that frames the forced evictions as moving outlying towns to the delineated settlement blocs.

And who is really celebrating tonight?? You guessed it. The Arabs. While they spew forth their vituperative towards the State of Israel and plan it’s destruction, our Jewish leaders fall all over themselves attempting to make “peace” with those who seek our destruction. The Arabs are also elated because the Arab parties received 10 seats in the next Knesset.

When did we ever believe that this would occur? Let us remember the words of Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZT”L who said that Arabs would eventually become a majority and quietly, democratically vote Israel out of existence. We have now witnessed the beginning of this phenomenon.

“The ultimate hope of the Arabs who dream of destroying the Jewish State, of realizing that vision, is the left-liberal camp inside Israel” Rabbi Meir Kahane - (Israel: Revolution or Referendum?, 1990, page 62)

It is also apparent that the government of Israel seeks to quell the right of free speech, a basic component of a democratic government. This was evidenced when MK Michael Kleiner of Herut came to Jaffa, in a last-minute effort to solicit Arab votes. Kleiner's supporters posted signs in Arabic in Jaffa, and in other Arab towns throughout Israel, urging Arabs to vote for him, in the upcoming Israeli national elections. Kleiner is promising to push for legislation of a law that would pay Arabs to leave Israel.

According to recent surveys, as many as 50 percent of the "Palestinians" would gladly leave Israel if they were given start-up funds to begin a new life elsewhere.

Local Arab leaders incited a riot, and police refused to allow Kleiner to come back to Jaffa. Kleiner also filed complaints against Tel Aviv Councilman Rifat Torik for incitement and his statements in support of the attacks against party activists, who Kleiner maintains were in life-threatening danger.

It is clear that anyone who proposes the idea of transfer of the Arab population is subject to harassment and arrest and severe prosecution. Anyone who attempts to promulgate the idea of self preservation of the Jewish people and the Jewish State is viewed as a villain, a criminal, a fomenter of unrest. Anyone who speaks the Torah truth, who speaks of the uniqueness of the Jewish people, who declares the Oneness and Omnipotence of the G-d of Israel is subject to ridicule, and worse, arrest and imprisonment.

The powers that be in the Israeli government cannot quash the truth. They cannot silence those whose belief in and adherence to the laws of Hashem and His Torah, are their first priority. We can no longer remain blind to the truth. And the truth is the Arabs are indeed on their way to becoming a majority in the State of Israel. Rather than being voted out of existence by the Arab in this ostensible democracy, we must raise our collective voices in protest of the impending destruction of Israel. We must summon up the strength and courage to do the will of Hashem. We must purge the malignant Arab population before it is too late. May Hashem be at our side.

zac said...

Comments on Fern Sidman's "Commentary on Israel's election Results"

"The election results are in and the immediate future of Israel is in deep peril. Despite the low voter turnout, it appears that the Kadima, Labor and Meretz coalition has taken power with the lowest coalition majority in the history of the state".

At this time and place, there are coalition talks between Kadima and various possible coalition partners. Apart from Labor, there are the Pensioners' Party, Shas and Torah Judaism that seem to be the likeliest partners. Meretz and the Arab Parties are not coalition partners at the moment. Meretz may be included especially now that they have received another mandate from the army vote. I don't see that as a disaster at all.True, the election results are problematic and Kadima did not win overwhelmingly.

The so-called "Greater Israel" which includes occupying the Palestines has reached a dead end and the time has come to separate from the Palestinians. Occupation of another people is bad for Israel and turns Israel into a colonial power.

There is a reality on the ground and that is the existence of a Palestinian nation with whom Israel must come to terms. If this could be achieved peacefully by the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel then both peoples have much to gain. if this is not possible then Israel has no alternative but to withdraw from much of the territories occupied in the Six Day War of June 1967 unilaterally.

Rabbi Meir Kahane - founder of the Kach Movement was no hero! He was despicable racist whose views were not all that distant from fascism. He played a large role in fomenting hatred between Jews and Arabs.His admirers unfortunately are still around in Herut under Michael Kleiner whom you mentioned. Prior to the elections he went into Jaffa with his supporters to do some muscle flexing and provoke the Arabs living there and show who is the boss! He did NOT go to Jaffa to seek Arab support.Which Arab would support an Arab hater of his callibre? He dislikes Arabs in the Rabbi Kahane,Barzel, Federman mould. It is stupidity to believe that he sought the Arab vote. It is like saying that Hitler invaded the Warsaw Ghetto during the 2nd World War to seek Jewish support! Kleiner and Company ARE NOT democrats but demagogues whose goal is to foment hate between Jew and Arab. They adhere to the "Greater Israel" idea with its inherent dangers.

It is unfortunate that the "laws of Hashem and Torah" have been unjustly mutilated and twisted by right wing religious zealots to resemble fundamental Islam of Hamas and its terrorist allies in its world view placing land above humanity and peace and non-recognition of one side for the other.