Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Netanyahu's Coup

I know I should be appalled by Shaul Mofaz’s opportunism and Benjamin Netanyahu’s grin but I confess to being just a little relieved.

Netanyahu was about to call an election because his coalition was about to collapse. The Israeli Supreme Court had found the Tal Law, through which ultra-orthodox youth shirk military service, unconstitutional: a violation of the equality provisions of the Basic Law of Human Dignity. Netanyahu thus faced a choice: He could defy the court and flout the Basic Law—neither of which is popular among Likud’s rank and file at, say, Beitar Jerusalem football games—and appease the religious parties in his coalition. But then he would be playing with constitutional fire, something I suspect he, Barak, Mofaz and many in the Likud with IDF pedigree are sincerely loathe to do.

More important, Netanyahu would be infuriating the large secular majority, including many pro-Bibi reactionaries, and pro-Lieberman Russians, who are fed up with paying the taxes and doing the reserves while the Orthodox work to shut down their seafood restaurants.

For most Israelis, demographic fears have less to do with the fertility of West Bank Palestinians—whom Israelis are all too accustomed to excluding from their democracy—than the fertility of Haredim and Israeli Arabs whom they know they cannot, and who soak up most spending on family allowances. Already, 25% of first graders in Israel proper are orthodox and ultra-orthodox classrooms, and 25% are in Arab classrooms. You don’t have to be a prophet to see where the children of Israel are heading.

So, yes, Mofaz made his move because Kadima was headed for an embarrassing defeat, though (as I wrote here earlier) he was better positioned than any other “centrist” to go down swinging: strengthening Netanyahu’s overall opposition, that is, by cutting into Likud’s Mizrahi and Russian tribes, and thus possibly denying the current roster of parties in Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition its narrow Knesset majority. And, yes, Netanyahu can now put off having to face an electorate that is more volatile than the polls show and will eventually vote with half an eye on the American election.

Still, a Likud-Kadima “unity” coalition actually represents an overdue alignment of the urbane forces in the country that have to come together to preserve Israeli civil society. You study Weimar and other failed democracies and you see that things can go in another, more horrifying direction when secular parties with at least a core of liberal leaders fight each other rather than make common cause against nationalist and clerical fanatics.

Read on at The Daily Beast


Y. Ben-David said...

You are mixing together the "Orthodox" and "Ultra-Orthodox" (Haredim). It is the "Ultra-Orthodox" who generally do not do military service and many of whom are on the fringes of the work force. The "Orthodox", by which you mean the "National Religious" DO serve in the military, in fact are becoming its backbone providing half of the officer corps, and do work in all aspects of Israel's industrial, business, agricultural and scientific sectors. They are living the Zionist dream of productive labor. Your fear of them, by noting their percentage in the education system, is NOT based on your fear of the Haredim, it is they believe in Zionism TOO MUCH in your eyes.
However, neither sector is going to go away, even if the coalition has a secular majority and they still have the right to vote and they have the right to have the government support their sector, just as it supports all the other sectors of society.

Potter said...

It's hard to resist getting one's hopes up. This would be an opportunity for Netanyahu to evolve if he has it in him. Big if. This might be especially so since his father just passed away and he may feel that he is simply gone and not watching.

But I can't get my hopes up even though some change in direction is sorely sorely needed. I will celebrate it if and when it comes.... even small changes in the right direction.

Y. Ben-David said...

Dr Avishai assured us in the past the the new, supposedly "emerging Palestinian entrepeneurial elite" was going to "push aside" the militia-gunmen of FATAH and HAMAS in their pursuit of making as much money as possible, which Dr Avishai believes is everyone's main motive in life.
Let's see how well that is going:


Potter said...

Ben-David- I think you don't show who THEY are so much as show your lack of understanding and who you are by cheering for such setbacks so you can attempt to prove some point such as it being impossible for Israel to get it's foot off of the West Bank. This is the equivalent to cheering against your own interests.

By the way this story relates to the murder of the director of Freedom Theater, Juliano Meir Khamis. The more you dig, the deeper you will get into anger and despondency, despair amongst Arab youth that has been nurtured if not well aided by Israeli occupation.

Y. Ben-David said...

Stories like this do not necessarily make me happy....but they do show that people like Dr Avishai and Tom Friedman do not seem to have a grasp on what the Arab-Israeli conflict is about. It is NOT about "self-determination" for the Palestinian people or about enabling the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world to "make as much money as possible" which Dr Avishai and Friedman seem to think is the main, basic motivation for everyone in the world. The Arab-Israeli conflict is EXISTENTIAL because the Arab world can not accept having a Jewish state in its midst, regardless of what certain Arab individuals may think.
If all Israel were to adopt all the policies that Dr Avishai and Friedman advocate (i.e. pulling back to the pre-67 lines, knocking down the settlement, removing state symbols that emphisize Israel's Jewish identity, etc) there would not be peace, in fact, the conflict would become MORE extreme because the Arabs would then feel Israel is on the run and increasing the pressure would lead to further Israeli capitulation. There would be MORE boycotts, more complaints about "occupation" that started in 1948, more incentive for terror, etc.
I am sorry, but until people understand the true nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict, people will continue to flail around impotently. This does not mean I view the situation as possible, by no means, but what we must strive for is an INFORMAL modus-vivendi which will be started by Israel saying it will NOT give up Jewish interests and Jewish rights, including Jewish rights to settle the West Bank, while at the same time reducing the security presence and attempting to give the Arab population freedom of movement and ecnomic activity, without demanding they "make peace" with Israel or other humiliating concessions regarding a "peace agreement" which their leaders simply can not do.

Potter said...

This is YOUR song Ben David ( and you keep singing this same tune). Is called "Give Them a Finger and They Will go After Our Hand" - not born out by any evidence or support AT ALL. The opposite case can be made. One could suspect your refrain stands for an EXCUSE not to make peace.

What IS existential ALSO is ECONOMIC well-being on BOTH sides: NORMAL LIFE which includes a roof, a job, education, health care, civil institutions, a feeling of pride and dignity within a STATE in which you are a FULL CITIZEN. NO ONE has suggested that economic progress alone is a panacea. Notice how bent out of shape Israel gets when it's economy is threatened.

And I don't read here that Dr. Avishai is suggesting such a panacea.But with MANY on BOTH sides it is an EXCELLENT BET that normal life will break down WALLS- RELIGIOUS walls and PHYSICAL walls.

What you COVER over or NEGLECT in your argument is the fact that in the absence of JUSTICE there will NEVER be PEACE and that this is ULTIMATELY and existentially a THREAT to Israel. YOu don't seem to give a darn about JUSTICE as long as Israel has the upper hand militarily. So don't sell me your excuse.

Y. Ben-David said...

What are you talking about?:
Give them Oslo-they give us suicide bombings.
Give them unilateral withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza, they give us indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli cities and attacks on the border.

We give them the Sinai, Egypt now wants to cancel the peace agreement. When have they ever stated any willingness to meet us halfway?
We are farther from peace than at any time.

Potter said...

Them Arabs. Does not matter Egyptians ( in return for peace), Does not matter Lebanon ( to get rid of an untenable situation occupying Lebanon and losing soldiers). Does not matter Gaza UNILATERAL with NO AGREEMENT ( elevating Hamas) because that too was untenable. Israel gave the Palestinians BUPKISS. Israel TOOK their land and STILL TAKE their land. This argument "look at all we gave" is so HOLLOW becaue it was SELF-SERVING, not COMPROMISE.

Oslo is past. BOTH sides did not comply but it was progress on the road to NOW.

NOW Abass is willing to meet and Hamas will comply but Israel is placing the blockage before that can happen: they must agree that Israel is a JEWISH STATE. Tell me do Israeli's need Palestinians to give them recognition before peace and compromise? Before Israel recognizes a Palestinian state?

So what happens to the ARABS, the 20 %. Do they get EQUAL RIGHTS?

A recent cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine shows a man in a lab coat talking to a colleague: Our tests how that rats who comment online are dumber than those who do not.

I realize that may include me. This back and forth is so useless. Shodad Yam where are you?

Potter said...

Ben-David, but how can you talk about Oslo without knowing how against it the Israeli right wing was and how they (including Netanyahu) worked against it--and how can you talk about Oslo without knowing how historic it was on the long road to this moment. And what happened to Rabin? Who stopped the process? Or was it only all about suicide bombers?

In a 2001 video, Netanyahu, reportedly unaware he was being recorded, said: "They asked me before the election if I'd honor [the Oslo accords]... I said I would, but [that] I'm going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the '67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I'm concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue." Netanyahu then explained how he conditioned his signing of the 1997 Hebron agreement on American consent that there be no withdrawals from "specified military locations," and insisted he be allowed to specify which areas constituted a "military location" - such as the whole of the Jordan Valley. "Why is that important? Because from that moment on I stopped the Oslo Accords," Netanyahu affirmed.


Y. Ben-David said...

Faisal Husseini, a top-ranking official in the Palestinian Liberation Oraganization, who died about 10 years ago, gave an interview during the bloody suicide bomber war saying that Arafat, FATAH and the PLO used the Oslo Agreements as a "Trojan Horse" so that they could get a territorial base close to the Israeli population centers so that mass terror attacks could be more easily carried out.
There's Oslo for you.


Potter said...

Neither side's approach makes sense to mebecause it meant more violence ultimately. And strategically both deceptions failed and both sides it would seem would have been better off working with, not against, Oslo. But there was no trust on either side, nor a willingness to build... maybe because there was no end to grasp that would satisfy either side yet. It's dishonest to keep using Olso as an example of Israel willing to give ( "Give them Oslo").