Saturday, March 18

Israeli Election Considerations

The upcoming Israeli Elections have left many of the Israeli Electorate in a state of flux with the opinion polls illustrating a strong showing for centre Kadima Party of Ehud Olmert. Many of us on the left of centre are undecided. In the past, the left in Israel had been associated with the peace process and their voting patterns had illustrated this. Now, the intifada that began in 2000 and resulted in Palestinian violence against innocent Israelis whether it is suicide bombings in public places or in buses had eroded the left. It is as if Palestinian terrorists had punched the left in the stomach leading to the cessation of the peace process.

Despite all this, the voters will be choosing a centre party that promises further disengagement from the Palestinians. The settlers, identified with the right wing, have not managed to garner much sympathy from mainstream Israelis. On the one hand, many view them as obstacles to peace and share much of the blame for Palestinian animosity for Israel. On the other hand, had there been no settlers in areas occupied after the Six Day War of June  1967, it is doubtful if it would have made any difference anyway. The Arab States have a problem with Israel’s existence since its establishment in 1948.

However, this does not alter the fact that we have to come to terms with our Palestinian neighbours eventually. There are many converging interests between Israelis and Palestinians. If it is not on the political level, then it is on the social level. An example of this is the avian ‘flu epidemic that has reached our shores. The Palestinians are just as exposed to this danger as the Israelis. Cooperation between the two sides is vital in order to fight the common enemy that is a threat to the health of poultry on both sides. Cooperation between the two sides becomes more complicated because of the animosity and lack of trust and this would be detrimental to combating this epidemic more effectively.

The floating voter has become a more characteristic phenomenon in these elections. This may not influence the outcome that seems to be predictable. It does influence the kind of coalition that would result after the elections. No political party will gain an absolute majority. Kadima will be zigzagging from moderate left to moderate right depending on the reactions of the mainstream electorate, which is not immune from fickleness.

There are disturbing trends. Racism has raised its ugly head in sheep’s clothing. Whenever there is mention of Amir Peretz, many mainstream Laborites lift up their noses in disgust. Some will follow Shimon Peres to support Kadima in order to demonstrate their disgust. They will say that he is not suited to be the future prime minister of Israel, as he has no experience in government. He has never been a cabinet minister. The real reason is that he is a mustached Moroccan from Sderot and this does not fit in with the stereotype of prime minister that Labor technocrats would like – Ashkenazi and conventionally educated - whatever that means! It is a shame that there are still people with these racist ideas.

Kadima is a centre party with a rather nebulous ideology that waxes and wanes with its supporters. It will form a coalition in order to govern. It is important that its future partners in the coalition will give it the direction needed to make bold decisions. A vote for Kadima does not necessarily mean a vote for an end to the occupation. It could be – depending on the coalition partners. If the right wing Likud and extreme right wing National Union – National Religious Party (Ichud Leumi-Mafdal) form a coalition with Kadima then Kadima will be part of a rightwing government. The Shas and UnitedTorah Judaism Parties would be more conducive to tag on to this coalition than to a Kadima-Labor and Meretz coalition. This would be detrimental to any future peace moves in the region. The latter type of coalition would be more conducive to peace with the Palestinians once Hamas becomes more pragmatic in its stance towards Israel. Rather than abstaining from voting, perhaps it would be a good idea to vote for Labor or Meretz in order to steer Kadima towards much needed reforms in this country.

The Israeli citizen would be better off under a Kadima-Labor-Meretz coalition for a number of reasons:

  1. Peace with the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside Israel would be closer to fruition.

  2. Social issues, health, and education would receive more emphasis.

  3. Equality between Israeli and Arab Israeli citizens would take priority. Affirmative action programmes preventing discrimination of Arabs in the job market could assist this.

  4. The minimum wage would be raised to $1000 a month net.

  5. On the religious front, much remains to be done. Recognition of pluralism in Judaism such as the right of non-Orthodox streams to marry couples. There should not be Orthodox establishment monopoly on matters affecting Reform and Conservative Judaism.

A right wing government would place emphasis on the taxpayer’s money for benefits of the settlers beyond the Green line and for continuing the occupation. There would be no withdrawal and the burden on the taxpayer would not be alleviated. An increase in the defense budget in order to protect these settlers and justify them living in occupied areas is a strong possibility.

Those who suffered from Benjamin Netanyahu’s financial programmes when he was Minister of Finance in the Likud Government were the weaker sectors of society. The pensioners, low-income groups and unemployed were victims who paid a heavy price. The Support and Growth Tax that many of us paid into the government coffers apart from our regular tax was unaccounted.

Corruption was rife in the previous Likud Government. So many Knesset members are being subjected to various enquiries into their wheeling and dealing that was criminal. Two Likud Knesset members (Naomi Blumenthal and Omri Sharon) have already been convicted and sentenced to prison terms as well as heavy fines. The citizen in the end pays the final price for corruption in government.

If anything, the Likud and its extreme right wing allies are not deserving of returning to power.


1 comment:

Fern Sidman said...

WILL ZIONISM BE VANQUISHED?

BY: FERN SIDMAN

It was recently reported that the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mash'al said in a sppech in Damascus that Arab determination and spirit will ultimately vanquish Zionism and bring about the liberation of Palestine.

Mash'al who is the real power behind Hamas, is a former resident of Gaza. After an unsuccessful assasination attempt by the Israeli government in 1997, Israel has barred Mash'al from re-entering the country and assuming any role in the new Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority.

The following are excerpts from his speech:

"Ben Gurion (Israel's first prime minister) hoped that subsequent generations of Palestinians will forget their defeat in the 1948 War of Independence, commonly referred to by Arabs as the catastrophe."

"Today's followers of Ben Gurion know that they have to contend with a Palestinian generation that is stronger than its predecessors. They will see future generations of Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic nation waving the banner of Islam."

"The liberation of Palestine will come with the help of Allah, until it is attained by the last solider, woman, and child, despite resistance by Israel and the United States... Jerusalem will become Arab and Muslim again, including all the places holy to Islam and Christianity."

"Today, we are close to attaining Palestinian national rights... When a Palestinian child says that his grandfather or father was born in Nazareth, Haifa, or Jaffa, there's powerful human force in that. Can any power on earth erase this memory? How can Nazareth, Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Jaffa, and Akko be erased from the Palestinian memory? Therefore, one who says that Palestinian rights will die out, or that the Palestinians will relinquish or sell their rights and values is living an illusion."

"We and the Zionists have been brought together by destiny. If they want a fight, we'll be there; if they want a war we're ready; if they want a conflict we'll be there however long it takes."

"We have more determination that Israel... We'll defeat it, with the help of Allah, and we'll liberate the land."

To those who are shocked by these statements, we retort that we're shocked that you're shocked. Indeed, the Arab knows time is on his side. He has a deep and abiding belief in Allah, which stirs his nationalism. He confronts an obsequious state of Israel, who is bent on making even more territorial concessions to the Arab. Subsequent to the evacuation and demolition of Gush Katif, while the Arabs celebrated the beginning of the end of the State of Israel, the Kassam rocket attacks started on Israeli settlements near the Gaza border.

Let us remember the words of Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK"L, HY"D, who said, "The confrontation will come as the Arabs of Israel constitute one-quarter or one-third of the state. Riots and rebellion will be seen on television screens all over the world. Bombs will go off, and bloody clashes between soldiers and Arab civilians will take scores of lives." (They Must Go, 1981, page 115)

And to those who are still not convinced of the ultimate goal of the Arab, let us ponder this statement by Rabbi Kahane, ZTK"L, "The Muslims are bitterly anti-Israel and anti-Jewish... They combine fervent anti-Zionist nationalism with the even more fervent Islamic creed. That the Arab youth of Israel are undergoing an Islamic revival is admitted by one and all." (Israel: Revolution of Referendum?, 1990, page 47)

The government of the State of Israel and our leadership is tired of fighting the enemy. Mr. Olmert has said as much. The weakness and disarray of the government of Israel is clarion call to the Arab. He feeds on this weakness, and views concessions by Israel not as signs of compromise for long term peace, but as admission of defeat.

The Jewish State, unlike the Arab, is not propelled towards nationalism, because they have no connection to the Almighty G-d of Israel. They are not a nation that is fortified in it's conviction and belief in the power and omnipotence of Hashem. It is not a state that is devoted to the precepts of the holy Torah. It is a nation that does not comprehend faith and trust in G-d. It is not a nation who believes that their ultimate battle for survivial is inextricably tied to the Final Redemption. It is not a state of warriors that goes out to sanctify the name of G-d. It is a state of non-believing, morally bankrupt individuals who are bent on self destruction. The Jewish State is depressed, weary, exhausted and empty. And the Arab knows it.

He knows that he cannot be satisfied with a "Palestinian" state in Judea and Samaria and Gaza. He wants all of his "homeland" liberated from the Zionist oppressors, and that includes Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, etc.

"The voices of the Arab revolution are clearly heard in the land, and, as if cursed from heaven, the Jewish leaders of Israel sit, paralyzed." (Rabbi Meir Kahane - They Must Go, 1981, page 120)

We must wake up and smell the coffee. Only through a mass infusion of Jewish strength and power can we emerge victorious in this battle for our very existence as Jews and for the Land of Israel. Only through belief in and devotion to the G-d of Israel and His Torah can we develop the courage and strength to purge the Arab enemy from our midst. Only through our unwavering and stubborn adherence to the laws of the G-d of Israel can we face our vapid and self destructive leaders with words of truth. And let us ponder these words of hope and inspiration, "The Jewish concept of government is clear: The government exists to serve the people. The people exist to serve G-d." (Rabbi Kahane, Israel: Revolution or Referendum?" 1990, page 98) "If you love Jews enough, you say the painful things which will save them. No concern what they will do to you, that's not relevant." (Rabbi Kahane's last speech, November 5, 1990)

Let us pray to the G-d of Israel to give us strength and the courage to sanctify His holy name and let us take the actions required for our own self-preservation.