Israel going right, with opposition

Anywhere but the Labor middle. I've seen three recent polls out of Israel, and the others show about the same trend as this poll on IMRA:

Results expressed in Knesset seats. Current Knesset seats in [brackets].

25 [29] Kadima headed by Livni
07 [19] Labor
37 [12] Likud
11 [12] Shas
08 [11] "Israel Is Our Home" (Yisrael Beteinu)
08 [06] Yahadut Hatorah (United Torah Judaism-UTJ)
08 [05] Meretz
04 [09] "Jewish Home" (previously Nat'l Union/NRP)
03 [00] Green Party
09 [10] Arab parties *
00 [07] Retirees Party
You don't know cynicism until you've talked with young Israeli progressives. Here's how Gil, the 'Retirees Party' above, got those seven seats last election:
We have a retirees party here in Israel (talk about going out with a bang before you croak). Well, we never had it before, but now all of a sudden we do. Most stunningly, much of the electoral strength of the party is actually derived from disaffected twenty and thirty-somethings. The deal with the Retirees is that they weren't expected to win any seats, but then, once one of the polls showed them winning two seats, everyone who was looking to enter a protest vote voted for them. Their popularity spread like wildfire, kind of like a Cialdini experiment on social proof. Overnight it became cool to vote for the Retirees; talk about buzz marketing. Meanwhile, none of the people who voted for the Reitrees have ANY idea what the party members stand for expect for getting retirees higher pensions. The funniest quip of the elections was in fact by the head of the Retirees' Party, Rafi Eitan: "I can't see [points at his glasses], I can't hear [points at his hearing aid], and next week I'm having an angioplasty." He wasn't kidding. I guess that the joke is on us.
My take, from being on a NJDC tour of Israel earlier this year, was that the Meretz party had the best hope of a place for something of an left-of-center opposition to form. While there, I met with a number of bloggers, including Yochai Ilam from Black Labor blog, but they didn't seem to have much of an interest in any of the prominent political parties. Perhaps, with the prospect of PM Netanyahu looming, that's changing (here's a good look into the current blogosphere of Israel). I've read recently that the left/progressive parts of Labor are moving into Meretz. While that doesn't seem to have played out, Meretz does seem to have had an infusion of new activism into its party. Labor just seems tired and defeatist, and though Kadima's Tzipi Livni is a better alternative than a repeat of Netanyahu as prime minister, that's not where Israel is headed, by the looks of the above poll.

Livni was ahead, but has fallen dramatically behind in recent weeks, as the global economic downturn has settled into Israel. She's not seen as someone with much economic experience, and Likud's Netanyahu leads on economic preference in recent polling. That said, I'm not sure where Netanyahu is going to go to get partner Likud with other parties to get above 60; perhaps with Kadima led by Mofaz? That's a chilling prospect. Another prospect would be for Netanyahu's Likud to join with Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, pay off Shas, and pull in other rightwing or Orthodox parties if needed for a majority.

Though the center is collapsing in Israel, and the prospects for the left forming part of the majority are not that bright at the moment, a different scenario is unfolding. Labor is on the demise, Gil will vanish, and perhaps Meretz will pick up enough seats to become the third largest party, and become a voice of clear opposition:

"I hope the expanded leftist movement will become a replacement for the Labor Party," the Haaretz daily on Sunday quoted author Amos Oz as saying. "The Labor Party has finished its historic role, it isn't putting forward a national agenda and it joins any coalition." The internationally acclaimed author was among 30 prominent Israelis who announced the formation of the movement on Friday. Other members include former parliament speaker Avraham Burg and Tsali Reshef, founder of the Peace Now movement. Both men are Labor breakaways. The new group is not forming a new party. Instead, it hopes to bolster Meretz, a leftist party that has been largely confined to the political fringe in recent elections and now holds just five seats. ...The new movement that's coalescing also opposes Netanyahu's approach, and urges energetic efforts to achieve a final accord between Israel and the Palestinians. Meretz chairman Haim Oron told The Associated Press that the new movement hoped to draw votes from "the parties of apathy and despair"— disillusioned Labor voters, centrists who voted for the ruling Kadima Party in the last elections in 2006, protest voters and people who haven't voted in the past. Oron said the intent was to mobilize voters who identified with Meretz's goals but were reluctant to vote for a party with a small presence in parliament. The new party would not sit in a Netanyahu government, he said. Skeptics questioned whether the new movement's appeal would extend beyond the circle of likely Meretz voters. But it could have an impact if it manages "to wake up other voting populations," like young people who ordinarily wouldn't bother casting ballots, said political scientist Gideon Doron.
There's some hope.

Tags: 2009, Israel election (all tags)

Comments

35 Comments

Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Until the Palestinians acknowledge the right of jews to exist and the State of Israel to exist and until Hamas and Hezbollah have been destroyed or give up their goal of killing every jew in Israel, there will be no peace.

by adb67 2008-11-29 05:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

I don't think Jermone is trying to solve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict with this post.  

by gil44 2008-11-29 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

"Until the Palestinians acknowledge the right of jews to exist"

You could say the same about the settler movement and the Israeli right who advocate a program of ethnic cleansing in order to establish a greater Israel and claim Palestinians have no right to a nation state and don't have the right to exist as a distinct people and national/ethnic entity.

The problem is the rejectionists and violent extremists on both sides are driving the agenda. They make sure there is no room for rational voices and compromise.

You can't give the extremists from one side a pass and a seat at the table without doing the same for the other. Israeli's and Palestinians elect who they chose. They may not be the leaders we would pick for them and they may not support our agenda but you negotiate with the leaders the voters on both sides chose not the ones you would like to impose on either Israel or Palestine.

It would be nice if Israeli's and Palestinians elected parties committed to peace and compromise. But that has not happened  so you work with what you get or you make no progress.

by hankg 2008-11-29 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Except the Palestinians had a chance via the Oslo accord and their leader instead chose to lead them along a path of death and destruction.

by adb67 2008-11-29 01:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

The Israeli right also rejected the Oslo accords. Israeli's have been no better served by their leadership then have the Palestinians by thiers. The Israeli neo-cons have coddled and funded the violent religious fanatics of the settler movement and replaced dialog with 'shock and awe'. Israel's Prime Minister was assassinated for his role in the peace process by a Jewish terrorist not a Palestinian one. It was fundamentalist Rabbi's that justified his murder not Islamic Mullahs.

The Israeli right have made Israel much less secure as a result. It is a sad history of failure of leadership that parallels the failure of the bankrupt Palestinian leadership.

by hankg 2008-11-30 01:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

To blame the long term conflict and current situation on the Israelis is to deny the history here. Can you think of another nation that has been under constant under attack since its creation. You say the Israeli right rejected the Oslo accord, but the fact is Israel as a nation agreed to it and was prepared to abide by and implement it. It was Yassar Arafat who rejected it and called for rebellion. I find it just amazing how historical revisionists and those who would coddle terrorist deny the truth. Fact is palestinian leadership has been nothing but a catalyst for the death of its wn people. They encourage mothers, fathers to give their children up as suicide bombers. They promote martryism as a way of life. They promote death over life, violence over peace.

by adb67 2008-11-30 03:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

The radical religious extremists who murdered an Israeli Prime Minister for his role in the peace process teach racism, violence and hate to their children just like the Palestinian extremists. The Likud and the settler movement they have protected and encouraged has done more damage to Israel then Hamas could ever hope to do.

by hankg 2008-11-30 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Do the Israelis target woman and children, tourists etc for death using children to kill them by blowing themselves up with explosive vests? Do the Israelis encourage their children to kill themselves in the name of religion? Do Jews and Christians murder innocent people who might make comments or write articles critical of their religion? Do the palestinian people tale any responsibility for themselves by rebelling against hamas and the like? Do the Israelis have as a stated goal declared they must kill every palestinian and muslim? The answer to these questions is no. When are liberals in this country going to realize that radical islam has but one stated goal, world domination by means of murder. Hamas has no interest in the pplight of the palestinian people. Their goal is death to the jews, political and economic control.

by adb67 2008-11-30 12:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

"Do Jews and Christians murder innocent people"

Yes Christians have slaughtered millions of Jews in modern times and the US has slaughtered 1,000's of innocent civilians in Iraq. Hindus have slaughtered Muslims in India and Ariel Sharon himself presided over the slaughter of women and children in Lebanon and has targeted cilivilians in the West bank in his policy of collective punishment.

Of course in your cartoon character version of history where Arabs are evil and the west is blamless none of that counts. Palestinians unfortunately are no different then people any where else. If there is ever to be peace enemies who killed innocents will have to negotiate or the slaughter will continue.

by hankg 2008-11-30 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

The US has slaughtered 1,000's of civilians in Iraq? Maybe true, were they purposely targeted for death? No. Were Europeans targeted for death during WWII by US soldiers, NO? Were civilians killed, yes. Should we not have fought that war?

You talk about Christians killing jews.....in modern times have Christians targeted jews for death as a way of life? No.

I dont live in a cartoon world, you appear to live in a world that naively believes if we are nice to those who mean to kill us, they will just go away or be nice to us in return. Your logic of thinking nearly allowed Hitler to takeover Europe, to kill 9 million people.

by adb67 2008-11-30 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

"You talk about Christians killing jews.....in modern times have Christians targeted jews for death as a way of life? No." Yes, in Nazi Germany and through out Christian Europe during WWII. The current pope was a member of the Nazi youth.

When governments accept large numbers of civilian casualties as an acceptable byproduct of actions which can not be justified as self-defense or necessary  -that is terrorism masquerading as collateral damage. The mother of a child blown to pieces by an American or Israeli missile feels no different then the Israeli mother who's child was a victim of terrorists. We will get a lot farther when we become intolerant of all forms of murder not just those committed against one group.

Yes stateless terrorist groups need to be hunted down and killed but the leadership of nations elected or otherwise whether it be Iran or Palestine need to be engaged. Should we have told the Israeli's Sharon was unacceptable as a partner for peace? Elect someone else. Sharon was no better then Arafat or any of the Hamas thugs but he was the guy the Israeli's voted in. It would have been preferable and much better for the Palestinians if they had leaders like Ghandi. But considering we voted for Bush twice I am not going to pass judgement on the voting habits of Jews in Israel or Arabs in the West Bank or Gaza. People who have to live with the constant threat of random violence are susceptible to demagogues who appeal to their fears and resentments.

The fact is the macho rhgetoric, collective punishment tactics and neo-con shock and awe policies of the neo-con Likud and the Bush administration have failed miserably. Israel is not safer. But if you want to keep supporting policies that have alrady failed go right ahead. You are not however based on the results of the last 8 years advancing the cause of Israeli security.

by hankg 2008-12-01 04:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

no it's the jews no it's the palestinians...blah blah blah

by eraske 2008-11-29 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Meretz is seen as Kucinichesque and will not gain seats until they figure out how to compete with the Peace through Strength mindset.  Unfortunately, the Lebanon disaster seems to have been pinned on the moderate/left and its residual effects probably hurts any chance of Meretz going mainstream.

What do Israeli progressives stand for anyway?  It seems in their small population any group that wants benefits or help, simply has to form a cohesive voting block based on their own self interest.  In that environment I don't see how a progressive movement could sustain itself.

by gil44 2008-11-29 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

It may be best just to ignore the Isreal/Palestinian conflict, as nothing will work.
The US should concentrate on pulling out of Iraq, neutralizing Iran, reducing the terrorist threat, and piracy in Somalia.

There's much, much more in the Middle East than the Isreal/Palestinian conflict.

by esconded 2008-11-29 08:42AM | 0 recs
So sad

Finally the chance of an engaged US foreign policy... and Netanyahu.  Ugh.

by mikeinsf 2008-11-29 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

A Likud/Shas/Yisrael Beiteinu/Jewish Home coalition gets Netanyahu to 60 seats.  I do not see Kadima, Labor, Meretz, the Arab parties, or the Greens joining his coalition.  The only question is Yahadut Hatorah.  Does anyone know who they are and what they stand for?  They must be a relatively new party.

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-29 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

I'm not sure why their name is presented in the Hebrew, they're known in the West as United Torah Judaism.  They're a Haredi party and in terms of defense issues would probably sit somewhere between Kadima and Likud.

by auronrenouille 2008-11-29 12:31PM | 0 recs
UTJ has been around for a while...

...and the party has a reputation as a fickle coalition partner for both sides.  According to this link, however, it seems that they would be a more natural fit in a Netanyahu-led coalition.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsou rce/Politics/UTJ.html

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-30 02:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Amazing turnabout in the polling. Kadima was ahead in the first few polls but this is stunning and frankly worrisome.  A Netanyahu win effectively ends at any chance at the Saudi peace initiative.

Timing is everything and it is saddens me that as we turn the corner in the US, Israel falls off a cliff. I suppose I won't yet despair because elections are not until mid-February and my sense of Livni is that she is tough as nails.

by Charles Lemos 2008-11-29 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Bear in mind that Israeli coalitions tend to have the lifespan of a carton of milk lately; even if Netanyahu wins, it'll just coalesce opposition against him and increase the likelihood the government falls again within 2-odd years.  Nobody lasts very long in the PM's chair lately.

by auronrenouille 2008-11-29 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-11-30 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

I too think there is time for Livni to bounce back, but I am also hopeful that Meretz might break out of its old mold and become a force that brings in a lot of voices that are not currently participating in politics.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-11-30 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Only when Islam rejects death, murder and oppression as a way of life will this conflict ever end.....

by adb67 2008-11-29 01:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Make sure you tell Islam that the next time you see him.

by Skaje 2008-11-30 11:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Netanyahu as PM, can mean only one thingL ATTACK IRAN, neo con dreams come true.

by ragingfire 2008-11-29 02:13PM | 0 recs
Jerome, I don't think most of us at MyDD care

about this.  How many people actually live in Israel/Palestine, after all?  How many dozens/scores of countries around the world have more people in them?

The problems in I/P are intractible.  Nobody with any power there seems to have any interest in solving them.

We in the US (and MyDD) could spend our time/money/attention elsewhere, with greater constructive impact.

Let's.

by DFLer 2008-11-29 02:30PM | 0 recs
I respectfully disagree.

There is great interest in this important issue.  Just as we are hoping that the terrorist attacks in Mumbai are not the spark that triggers another war between India and Pakistan, we hope that a rightward lurch in Israel does not precipitate war there.  

Progressives do not like war anywhere, because war always siphons resources away from education, health care, jobs, agriculture, etc.  War is inimical to the anti-poverty stance of progressives.  As poverty is a globally linked problem, it follows that war anywhere, not just war involving the U.S.A., is contrary to our agenda.

One aside, though.  Remember that the Camp David Accords were approved during a Likud administation in Israel.  Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew Jewish settlements from Gaza before he founded Kadima.  Sometimes, right-wing Israeli governments have the capacity to surprise.

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-30 02:24AM | 0 recs
It's the worst vicious cycle in the world. n/t

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-30 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome, I don't think most of us at MyDD care

You'll have to skip the posts then, because I will be focusing on the upcoming elections quite a bit. They are very important to us in that region.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-11-30 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome, I don't think most of us at MyDD care

Jerome, I agree that I/P is important to peace in the region.  My point is that there's nobody, no major party in either Israel or Palestine who shows any semblance of an interest in doing anything that has any prospect of resolving issues of concern to the United States.

There is also no evidence that any major leader or party in either Israel or Palestine cares about the United States except as a funder of Israel and an unfortunately unconditional guarantor of Israel's security.

Certainly the August war demonstrated that the current Israeli government has no interest in US national security.

I'm not arguing that you shouldn't pay attention to the election.  It's your site, and you can do with it what you want.  I'm just saying that the conduct and outcome of the Israeli election aren't going to change anything that matters to us in the US.  If MyDD is going to turn its attention to parties, campaigns and elections abroad, there are places you could focus on where things are actually happening that matter to the US.

Also, the comments upthread suggest that most readers of MdDD who will pay attention to the Israeli election are more interested in a food fight than anything of productive substance.

by DFLer 2008-12-01 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome, I don't think most of us at MyDD care

I don't really care about the food fighters-- they are everywhere, and worse in places other than here.

I've posted before that I think the solution is only going to be long-term, like teaching arabic and hebrew and english to all kids there (which has begun).

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-12-01 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Jerome, I don't think most of us at MyDD care

I disagree.  World politics affects American politics.  In particular, the governments of our closest allies (Britain, Canada, Israel) have an outsized impact on how our foreign policy will develop.  This is meaningful and interesting information.

by Skaje 2008-11-30 11:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

It's hard to imagine a government forming that is worse than the current one but with Netanyahu anything is possible.

At some point Israeli Jews are going to have to give up zionism, push for democracy in one state instead of two and forge a future with Palestinian Arabs as partners instead of enemies.

Or they are going to become an arms-exporting dictatorship with dreams of wiping out the Arab Muslims.

I realize that it was better for Western powers to found an Israeli Jewish state in the same spot as the ancient one, but really we'd all have been better off if it was founded stateside somewhere.

by wengler 2008-11-30 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Yep, those no good jews....to hell with their biblical and historical right to the land and their own existence...lets just keep expecting them to give up their lives and be butchered by the arabs...its the right thing to do.....

by adb67 2008-11-30 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel going right, with opposition

Sigh.  Is it possible to discuss Israeli politics without it turning into "The Jews have to..." or "The Palestinians have to..."

by Skaje 2008-11-30 11:22PM | 0 recs

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