Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Political Winds: The Parties Of Global Israel

Uriel Reichman at the Herzliya Conference
There is no need for me to comment on Ehud Barak's decision to bolt the Labor Party, or shall I say unhinge it. Daniel Levy's long, thoughtful analysis on Foreign Policy's Middle East Channel tells you all you need to know, and more. As I said a few posts back, a new party is taking shape to organize democratic globalist forces in the country, and whether it is called Labor or something else is simply a matter of branding, like Southwestern Bell's decision to swallow AT&T but adopt its name.

This new political coalition will be called "leftist" or "Social Democratic" by journalists here and abroad, but the moniker is misleading. The kind of politics this group will practice would seem entirely centrist and unoriginal to, say, Europeans. The idea is peace and a shared business ecosystem with Palestine, a globalist agenda for Israel's entrepreneurs, separation of religion and state, full civil rights for Israeli Arabs, a conception of national Israeliness rooted in Hebrew culture, intense investment in education and national infrastructure, monetary stability, green technologies, and nondiscriminatory access to public assets.

If President Sarkozy or Prime Minister Merkel were Israeli, they could live very nicely within the precincts of this politics. So could, say, Senator Schumer. They would also call for international (read: American) diplomacy to lead the peace process, mainly by refocusing Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the achievements of past negotiations. It is a testament to how warped the governing parties of greater Israel are that this politics could seem radical.

AS SIGNIFICANT AS Labor's earthquake, though less noticed outside Israel, is a little column in today's Haaretz by Uriel Reichman, the president of the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya--a column that reveals, rather, the movement of tectonic plates. Reichman was slated to be Kadima's Education Minister back in 2006, when Ariel Sharon was expected to win a landslide. He is already educator-in-chief of the children of Israel's business elites, who has shown a remarkable gift for talking Israel's oligarchs (Arison, Ofer, etc.) and American machers (Zell, Lauder, etc.) into endowing disciplinary schools at the excellent private college he founded.

Reichman fought on the savage Golan front in the 1973 war, in which he lost a brother--a death that shattered his family. He was a founder of Shinui, the liberal "Change" movement, which helped topple Labor in 1977; and he once campaigned to reform the electoral system. But he's always prided himself on a rather hawkish commitment to national security and his (and his students') connections to the IDF. He provided a home for Uzi Arad's Herzliya Conference and the Counter-Terrorism Institute. He was also my boss for a couple of years and, let us say, did not find my politics quite "Zionist" enough. (He also claimed not to read Haaretz anymore.)

Today, Reichman, of all people, has called for the Obama administration to propose a bridging deal, fast, before the whole issue of Palestine is thrown to the UN General Assembly and Israel finds itself internationally isolated. I have been arguing for some time, especially in The Hebrew Republic, that Israel's business and professional elites constitute a strong constituency for peace and cosmopolitan values--that the people of global Israel would ultimately find their voice against the people of greater Israel. Reichman would not be writing what he did today if these elites were not finally getting mobilized. Reichman writes:

It is doubtful whether direct negotiations will produce an agreement. The Israeli coalition structure, the weakness of the Palestinian leadership, the complexity of the issue and the shrinking timetable before possible recognition by the UN of a Palestinian state will make it very difficult to achieve an agreement by consensus. At most we will see an exchange of accusations between the parties, whose objective is to support the vote of the General Assembly or to prevent it.

One significant route is still likely to lead to an agreement. Due to political constraints there is a gap between what the sides are capable of offering and receiving and what they would be willing to compromise about. Bridging this gap is possible only through an American initiative, which begins in a trilateral discussion and ends in an American proposal for an agreement.

The whole column is well worth reading, especially with the 2011 Herzliya Conference about to be convened. It is a signal to powerful domestic forces that their way of life is at risk. It should also be read by the Obama Administration as a kind of assurance. If America leads, Israel's elites will follow.


Y. Ben-David said...

I am afraid that I am going to have to ask a question I have asked before and to which I have not received an answer: If Reichman is worried that Israel is going to be isolated and that we had better hurry up and get an agreement to with the Palestinians that is more to our liking, then why on earth should the Palestinians ever agree to this? Olmert and Livni said it is a vital interest of Israel to set up a Palestinian state as soon as possible. Do they really expect Abbas to say "yes, fellow HAMAS and FATAH people, we had better make concessions now so that we can help Israel"?
As I have pointed out before, mobilizing Obama to "impose" a solution can never work because he has NO leverage to pressure the Palestinians with. The other 'moderate' Arab state will sit on their hands, and he can't cut the aid to the Palestinian Authority because they will say "okay, all that will do is bring HAMAS to power".
The bottom line is that there is no way the Arabs can be forced to accept an agreement that Israelis like.

Stan Racansky said...

This blog just support my idea how to solve this mess. Only difference that they want to throw 3rd participant into fray. If Israeli politicians had a "balls" after 67 war and dictated the terms of the solutions,how winners before, have done, the screaming would be over by now.

DB, you are not a politician, why would Arabs accept an agreement that Israelis like? Every politician knows "people vote with their wallets "what's in it for me?"

Y. Ben-David said...

The people who started the two World Wars were not acting out their best economic interests. Neither were the people who ran the 30 Years war in Indochina. The people who broke up Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia weren't motivated primarily by economic issues. Neither are the people who are breaking up Belgium. People have other motivations besides making as much money as possible. Today, the Palestinians, both HAMAS and the PA are being showered with money. They receive the highest amount of aid per capita in the world. Accepting a state will only cut that.
Osama bin Laden is a multi-millionaire and he is willing to sit in his cave and run his war from there.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is NOT economic. It is based on culture and religion.

Potter said...

Both are excellent articles. I just don't understand where Netanyahu and Barak think they are taking or can take Israel,what promised land?

One can feel the changes that are going to come one way or another as time is getting shorter and shorter. Reichman says 100 days... the Israeli Right coalition should hope that those days are divine days.

Stan Racansky said...

BD - I don't know about Yugoslavia but Czecholovakia in 1938 had been clearly economics based war. Germany needed a Czech Industry. Skoda Industries for example not only makes a good cars ( Original VW Beatle was copy of one the Skoda models) but also arms. Western powers were hopping that Germany will turn just toward the East (Russia) and let Germany to take over the Czechoslovakia. Just for your interest the Czechoslovakia had been in 1938 much military stronger then Germany. And ready to fight. Hitler and his minions knew it. If GB and French (who had a defensive pact with Czechoslovakia and Poland) did not push the country into 1938 "famous" agreement maybe there would not be WW2. Germany wanted to be a colonial power just like British and French and saw East Europe like their lands to colonize.

Your second point is correct both entities are "showered" with money but who is receiving it? Not the avarage person on the street. You give the average Palestinian "Joe" a dignity, job at living wages, place to live, car in the garage, etc. (all economics) and you wont have a terrorists. Look what happened in Tunisia, when people don't see a light on the end of tunnel, they fight. They don't really care who is in power - Jew or Moslem.

On both sides the "talking heads" are using the avarage Joes to fill their packets - both with power and money.

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