Palestine Update 359
Israel’s skewed democracy
There is a somewhat notorious description about democracy. It says there is more to democracy than elections. True. But elections have become the centre piece of democracy. The very process of elections is flawed in most countries. Western democracies and countries that have aped the West, know that, in the final analysis, elections vote in people who are popular or who have won popularity through campaigns.
Elections have moved from the street corner to becoming television performances, and who can spend most for their PR oriented campaigns, and who can spread enough hate, racism, xenophobia, casteism.
Elections have lost their substance. Ideology is dead and the election manifesto which once outlined what a political party’s political outlook and ideas and promises are, has become an optional extra which rarely gets read or written. Election speeches are a blitzkrieg that is not meant to offer choices and counter choices. It is about who meets the populist perimeter.
It took Israel three elections to come to a conclusion about who will rule Israel and what combination will constitute the ruling click. In the end the various groupings combined to demolish political principles and put power over values. The wide gap in ideological orientations guarantees political cacophony during political debates. There will be deals and compromises. There will be corrupt practices and the spoils of office will be distributed. The government will live out its term largely because there is one rallying call: “Crush the Palestinians and entrench the occupation”.
Israeli’s have voted in Zionism and apartheid and con themselves into deeming that they are a civilized democracy – the only one in the Middle East when, in fact, they are a nation ruled by men and women whose savage political intents are brazenly acted out in every political decision and action. It has no moral underpinnings and will cave in, sooner or later.
The two articles in this issue, one by Nadav Tamir, a Board Member at The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, and a second by Ramzy Baroud, journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle come from two perspectives but have instructive critiques of the situation in Israel and the troubles that lie ahead for Israel for as long it pursues it colonial-racist policies.
Annexation would mark the end of the Zionist dream
By Nadav Tamir, a Board Member at The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
The coronavirus crisis will pass. Humanity will eventually develop a vaccine and find the way to eradicate the virus or develop immunity to the pathogen. The global economy will be hard hit, as will ours, but will recover. The State of Israel is blessed with unusually creative forces that will eventually lead it out of the economic crisis stronger, more resilient and with greater prominence on the world stage. On the other hand, the danger of annexation is irreversible – it will wipe out the Palestinian Authority and its life-saving security coordination with Israel, boost radical Palestinian forces and pose a real threat to one of Israel’s major strategic assets, the Hashemite Kingdom. Annexation will finalize the divorce between Israel and the US Democratic Party and deepen the alienation of the liberal progressive majority in the most important country in the world and Israel’s greatest ally.
Annexation will push away the majority of the US Jewish community and alienate most Diaspora Jewry, dealing a fatal blow to our existence as the nation state of the Jewish people. Europe, Israel’s most important trade partner, will lose interest in ties with a state that perpetuates occupation. Pro-Western Arab states with which we have a strategic partnership against Iran, ISIS and al-Qaeda, will be unable to withstand popular pressure and growing hatred of Israel for burying prospects of a solution to the Palestinian issue, which continues to be a festering sore in the Muslim Arab world. The option of a bilateral solution will disappear and the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be dealt with by the International Criminal Court, in The Hague and by the forces of the boycott movement (BDS) in civil society.
Yes, a number of friends will stand by our side – mostly members of the racist, populist alliance affiliated with the traditional anti-Semitic camp, which supports us now only because at this point in history they see Islam and Middle Eastern refugees as a greater threat to their ethnic purity than the Jews. Yes, on this holiday celebrating freedom, we will be making a decision pushing us irrevocably into the camp of those leaders who do not believe in freedom and minority rights. The tragedy is magnified further by the fact that those making this coalition agreement possible are people who understand the threat, who support the two-state solution and who are about to sacrifice it on the altar of the manipulated corona emergency.
Read full article in Jerusalem Post
(Excerpts) A Machiavellian Fiasco:
How ‘Centrist’ Gantz Resurrected Netanyahu, Israel’s Right
By Ramzy Baroud, journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.
“It was intended to be a Machiavellian move, but the decision by Benny Gantz, leader of Israel’s Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) coalition, to join a Benjamin Netanyahu-led government is likely to destabilize the political fabric of Israeli society for years to come. In a surprising move, Gantz has entered into precarious political compromises, whereby he would become the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), as a prelude to the formation of a national unity government which will include the ruling Likud party and Blue and White. The move, however, proved disastrous. As soon as Gantz declared his intentions to join hands with Netanyahu, thus throwing the discredited Prime Minister a lifeline, the Blue and White coalition quickly disintegrated. Blue and White has stood on shaky ground since its formation to contest the April 2019 general elections. The leaders of the coalition, Gantz (Israeli Resilience Party), Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), and Moshe Ya’alon (Telem) seem largely unified, not by a common ideological foundation, but by their sheer hatred of Netanyahu and burning desire to oust him.
… Over time, Netanyahu has turned whatever semblance of democracy his country enjoyed into a personal and family affair. In his constant readiness to concede to his extreme right-wing government coalition partners to ensure his own political survival, Netanyahu offered his country little by way of a viable political vision. For many years, Netanyahu’s enemies did little to counterbalance the Prime Minister’s excesses. While Netanyahu succeeded in wooing Israel’s right-wing constituency, Israel’s so-called left dwindled to represent, at times, a mere margin of error in Israeli elections and opinion polls.
In retrospect, Gantz and his allies had no other option but to brand themselves as ‘centrists’. On forming their coalition a year ago, they aimed to appeal to various groups of disgruntled Israelis: right-wing voters disenchanted with the political deadlock and economic inequality; leftists, who have lost faith in the traditional left’s ability to resurrect itself as a strong oppositional force and the remnants of independent and centrist voters. Gantz and his allies’ calculations proved to have merit, as Israeli voters came out on three different elections in less than one year to breathe life into what once seemed like an impossible mission: ousting Netanyahu.
In the last March elections, Blue and White has won 33 seats in the Knesset, certainly not enough to form a coalition on their own, but enough to build a relatively stable coalition that would seize control of the Knesset and. ultimately, form a government. For the first time in years, it seemed that Netanyahu’s political career was over, and that the Prime Minister, who is facing serious corruption charges, will see his day in court, if not prison. But Gantz faced a dilemma, which eventually resulted into his seemingly erratic decision to form a national unity government with Netanyahu. To form a government that excludes the Likud, Blue and White would have been forced to include the third-largest political force in the Knesset, the Arab parties which are united under the umbrella of the Joint List. Despite the Joint List’s willingness to join Gantz’s precarious coalition Gantz did everything in his power to avoid that possibility.
Racism in Israel is at its worst, and any political concessions made to Arab parties would have been considered by many Israelis as a betrayal to the ‘Jewish identity of the State’ as enshrined in the chauvinistic ‘Nation-State Law’ of July 2018. Everything that Gantz has worked for – three consecutive elections and the desperate attempt at carving up a centrist political narrative in a country inclining more to the right – have all come crashing down…By doing so, Gantz has granted Netanyahu a new lease on life and, consequently, strengthened the Israeli right’s grip on power for years to come.
Read full article in Palestine Chronicle