Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Reason's "Hit and Run"

Jesse Walker posted my "More on Israeli Elections" on Reason Online's very lively Hit and Run blog. As I suggested in an earlier post (on Mearsheimer/Walt Israel Lobby "thing") debates over Israeli policies (or elections for that matter) turn very quickly into shouting matches between "pro-Israelis" (so-called) and "anti-Israelis" (so-called). In general, American-Jews who are engaged in Israeli issues (most American Jews aren't) tend to be be more hawkish that the Israeli voters (which includes of course Arab voters). Indeed, Haaretz reported that:
Likud won the mock elections held among Jewish voters abroad Tuesday, with 44 seats.
Kadima came in second in the Jewish Agency-run election, with 33 seats. National Union-National Religious Party won 15 seats, and the Labor Party got 14.
Some 8,500 Jews abroad, primarily young people and students, voted in the mock elections held at community centers and on college campuses in 85 countries.
Baruch Marzel's far-right party won five seats, and the pro-marijuana Green Leaf party won three.
And apropos the Israeli elections, I wish that I could agree with the optimistic predictions my pal Steven Clemons has been making in the Washington Note about the chances for renewing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But I don't. I hope I'll prove to be wrong. My award for the best analysis of the election goes to Avishai Margalit for his Israel’s election is only another beginning.
Here are his conclusions:
What is amazing is that after 40 years of occupation in which no one who really aspired to power in Israel ever dared declare a pullout, Mr Olmert finally did so, and apart from some necessary noises by the right, the reaction was as if he had muttered commonsense banalities. This is a marked change in Israeli politics. Before the Gaza pullout, Israelis believed that the left hated the settlers and the right hated the Arabs. Mr Sharon discovered that the centre in Israel hates both the settlers and the Arabs. Mr Sharon isolated the settlers and turned them into a sect that is alienated from mainstream Israel; their supporters in the jingoistic rightist bloc shrank considerably, now consisting of a quarter of the parliament, at most.Mr Peretz achieved the unbelievable. He ousted Shimon Peres from the leadership of the party and breathed social democratic life into the dry bones of Labor. He resurrected it as a politically relevant party by making its social agenda the agenda of the country – and the country started speaking Laborese. The election result is that Israel has moved from the right to the centre. Yet, Kadima and Labor together did not do well enough to secure the centre-left hold on the country. Besides, Israel’s political clock is synchronised with the Palestinian political clock in pre-established disharmony. When Palestinians move to the centre, Israel moves to the right; when Israel moves to the centre, the Palestinians move to the right – this time to the Islamic right. In the tale of the two elections, the Palestinian and Israeli chapters have just started to unfold and only pollsters may be stupid enough to risk a prediction on how it will all end.

No comments: