The Depressing State of Israeli Politics

Hi everybody,

I’ve been on blog hiatus because of my university exams–but of course I’ve still found other ways to procrastinate my studying. The recent Israeli elections are causing me to come out of my hibernation and provide a few thoughts.

It looks like I’ve left one right-wing administration (Bush) for another one (Likud), which thrills me to no end. My aliyah was really bad timing!

I didn’t vote for one of the big three. I actually voted for the green party because I couldn’t warm up to Kadima or Labor, and I liked the values espoused by the greens. Perhaps in hindsight that was stupid because I could have been one of the people to hold down the fort. My party didn’t even win any seats. People like me split some of the left vote and not only detracted from Kadima/Labor but also helped Meretz lose seats. Ech.

The war in Gaza has shifted the country’s voters to the right and Labor and Meretz are flailing. How sad to see the once strong left fighting for their lives. Meanwhile, the ultranationalism of Yisrael Beiteinu seems to be gaining ground as can be witnessed by their replacing Labor as the third strongest party here.

Or perhaps it was everything leading up to the war that also contributed to this shift, particularly the feeling that there was no peace process, no Palestinian partner and no reward for dovish behavior.

Whether or not there was no peace process or Palestinian partner and whether Israelis logic was correct about peaceful intentions leading to more violence, it certainly looks like there is even less of a chance for a peace process now. The elections could further strengthen our recalcitrant enemy and the right-wing elements of the Palestinian community. Europeans are frightened and Obama has a bigger problem to deal with now.

I don’t think Israel Beiteinu’s endorsing an ‘oath of loyalty’ from its citizens helps matters. Not only does it alienate the Arabs but it also endangers the democratic values of this country centered around liberal citizenship (where people are granted rights regardless of their devotion) and not republican citizenship (where people have to prove their dedication in order to deserve rights) endorsed by Lieberman.

Our peoples’ behaviors are interrlocked in an unending cycle. When one side takes a more radical approach, the other side seems to follow suite, which then causes the other side to shift further to the right and so on and so on.

It’s no wonder Israelis tune politics out. It’s easy to be involved in the politics and proscribe solutions here if you live in the lovely U.S. of A. But here it is too close too home, too close for comfort. And none of the solutions seem good–either they seem to provide too many openings for the enemy or intensify problems in the long run. It’s easy to get depressed–particularly those of us who try to hold onto dovish ideology with our dear lives as the world around us seems to unravel.

Of course we still don’t know what the election results are. Kadima technically won with 28 seats, but Likud has 27 seats and will have an easier time forming a coalition–a coalition of all of the right-wing elements that doesnt appeal to me. Although that could also backfire for Likud because it can’t be too right-wing either. Meanwhile Likud is still struggling to cobble together a coalition of its own and Labor and Meretz might merge to strengthen the opposition.

I think the party system here is ridiculous. Yes I admit that I voted for a small party, but really we do have some higher threshold for party participation in Knesset. Why are there so many of them? When I went to vote I must have seen ballot slips for 30 parties! It seems like people’s solution to creating a new way of doing things is to create a new party, but that just seems to backfire. Enough already!

Too many parties just split the vote and then we are forced into these bizarre situations and coalitions where we have to pander to all these other parties–some of which get disproportionate pandering. So what’s the point of having a party platform if you just have to make all of these concessions and then your party platform just gets watered down?

Okay, I’m going back into my hibernating hole. Well right now I have to procrastinate by doing the dishes. Hopefully I’ll get up the motivation to write another entry soon.


One response to “The Depressing State of Israeli Politics

  1. Thanks Rebecca. I am contemplating a visit to Israel. I want to see what is going on up close. I especially want to visit Israeli Arabs & go to the West Bank.

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