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The Israeli General Elections in the Aftermath of the Gaza Tragedy

The war against Hamas in Gaza has come and gone. The damage done to Gaza was horrendous, especially the loss of innocent lives and immense suffering of the Palestinian population. Hamas still appears to have its honour intact and there is still sporadic firing of Qassam rockets into Israel despite the declared cease-fire brokered by Egypt. This means that despite the outcome of the war, Hamas remains as adamant and determined as ever not to reach any agreement with Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist. This will influence the Israeli voting patterns very strongly.

The Israeli General Elections are in the offing and it is very difficult to show any enthusiasm for it. The atmosphere is far from that of the US Election where there was some hope for a new deal for the American people. A fleeting optimism was released when Obama was elected as president of the US. Here in Israel, there is none of that optimism. It will be more of the same and probably even worse for peace.

A very clear trend amongst the Israeli electorate has emerged since the end of this war. It is an almost foregone conclusion that the Likud and the right wing parties will win the elections and the next Prime Minister will be Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli public will swing to the right and racial overtones will be very much of the right wing campaign for votes. Avigdor Lieberman, a Russian immigrant from Moldavia, will become a very important factor. His ideology is similar to the defunct racist Kach Party. His Yisrael Beteinu Party, which is racist and anti-Arab, is embarking on a campaign of citizenship for Israeli Arabs based on their loyalty to the state. This is abominable! What criteria will be adopted to assess Israeli Arab loyalty to Israel? How will this be put into practice? Does he expect Arab citizens of Israel to be Zionists and if not, agree to transfer out of Israel? Lieberman was instrumental in trying to ban the Arab Parties Ra’am –Ta’al and Balad from taking part in the upcoming elections. He even managed to get Labour and Kadima to support preventing these parties from participating in the elections. Fortunately, the High Court overturned the Lieberman-run electoral committee’s decision and these parties will be participating.

The elections this year are very lack luster with a plethora of has-beens such as Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu attempting re-election as Prime Minister. There is also Tzippi Livni also having a go for that position. All in all the choice is not great. A vote for the Likud-Labour-Kadima triumvirate is not going to bring peace any closer to this region. After all, there is not much difference between these three parties. In any case, Yisrael Beiteinu will also be a part of this new government which will give its citizens pretty much of the same.

The voter who happens to be left has a real problem in deciding for whom to vote. Meretz is not the Meretz of the stalwarts such as Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid. It is a rather watered-down version of what it once was. The fact that Meretz supported the war effort in the beginning, despite the terrible loss of innocent lives, has driven many potential voters on the left away. The Arab Parties are no less one-issue than the extremist right wing Zionist parties are.

It is as if both the extreme right wing of Israel and Hamas has a common language in assuring that peace will never occur. Both sides are against a two state solution and both sides survive on unrest and hatred. It seems as if Hamas would like to see an extreme right wing government in Israel. This is obvious from the cease-fire violations that they have committed. Every missile fired into Israel will garner more votes for Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu Party. This will give Hamas legitimacy by proving that Israel does not want peace. This tactic will work in Lieberman’s favour.

The choice available to the Israeli voter is large because of the number of small parties participating, but the issues that are so important have not been addressed. Issues such as peace with the Palestinians, economic issues, education and so on have not been addressed by the main parties. Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party behave as if they have won the election. Netanyahu who always seems to have plenty to say at election time has remained silent. When he does open his mouth he utters some banality.

The religious parties such as Shas and Torah Judaism will wait for the juicy pickings from the winning party in order to feather their own religious nests. They will do almost anything to become part of the coalition after the elections. They need the tax payers’ money to maintain their religious institutions of bigotry. The easiest way they can achieve this is to extort whichever government comes into power after the elections. This scenario takes place every time once the elections are over and the results are finalized.

The voter’s choice in this lack-luster election is poor. The left wing has been shattered by Hamas violence that resulted in the Gaza War. Even on the left, there are those who supported the war and only after the injuries and deaths of innocent Palestinians became known, they did an about turn and ceased to support the war.

Israel maintains that Hamas used the Palestinians as human shields and this caused the loss of lives of many innocent Palestinians. Weapons had been hidden in the homes of many Palestinians who had been coerced under the pain of death to shelter Hamas militants and their armaments. Whether this is true has to be verified. Israel is also not truthful in its assessments of the situation and the total secrecy that it had declared on any information coming out of Gaza. Under these conditions it is very difficult to assess the entire truth of the Gaza operation.

The “disproportionate reaction” of Israel against the Palestinians and not only against Hamas is there for all to see. One cannot help not being outraged by the total destruction of many homes and towns in Gaza. The aimless wonderings of victims of IDF retaliation looking for their possessions and families buried in the rubble is heart rending.

Israel’s reaction to the rockets fired into Israel by Hamas militants over the last 8 years is understandable. The heavy loss of innocent Palestinian lives is not justifiable.

While Hamas does not show any signs of wishing to negotiate with Israel or recognizing Israel’s rights to exist makes it very difficult if not impossible to reach an agreement with them. Despite this, one must also remember that Israel is an expert at double talk. On the one hand Israel claims that it has no desire to rule over another people while in practice, settlements on the West Bank are being expanded and new settlements are even being built. This surely results in the displacement of Palestinians and the encroachment of Jewish settlers into their agricultural lands. This also results in another nail being hammered into the coffin of the two-state solution. Even the Labour Party under Ehud Barak has been instrumental in establishing new settlements by stealth in the occupied territories.

The dilemma of the Israeli left for whom to vote has never been greater than in these elections. Labour is not left anymore but a slightly watered down version of the Likud and even Kadima. All three parties would even be prepared to sit with Lieberman despite his repulsive and racist ideology. Meretz has not tackled the important issues of peace in these elections. Perhaps they felt that discussing peace would lose it votes and it is not popular these days.

For the Jewish, secular non-Zionist left, the choice is even poorer. All that remains is to vote for a party that makes Jewish and Palestinian coexistence and equality a central part of its platform as well as remaining democratic in its ideology. This could send a strong message to the right wing racist Zionists of Avigdor Lieberman ideology that his message as well as the message of the right wing religious parties is unacceptable.

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Neri
Unfortunately such delusions as those of Dror are not unique to him. We heard them many times in history (KKK members, Nazis, Apartheid South Africans, French in Algeria, British in India, etc). I cannot say that Pal;estinains are also immune to such delusions (take Hamas for example). But the difference between say Hamas members and Zionist members is that teh latter are far more militarily powerful with ability to inflict thousands of murders in a short(er) span of time. In three weeks in Gaza for example 1400 Palestinians kileld most of tehm civilians including 400 children.
we should not equate the Israeli condition with the Palestinians, and w can recognize that Israel/Zionist forces is much stronger then the Hamas/palestinian

I would argue that this is reality, and the situation not only harm the Palestinians, it also harm the Israeli development. we are locked in a war were Israel is stronger and people like Dror dream that the Palestinians should just stop resisting the Israeli force, which is not respecting the Palestinian nor it has any option to be manifested. Dror and friends will deny occupation and claim it is only a security measure till the Palestinians understand they must obey the 19th century Zionist plan.

for the blame game, the Israelis say that Hamas should acknowledge the Israeli force hence it is responsible to the outcome of Israeli attack, as you see Dror and friends here will remind us 8 years of Qassams that are continue even after the Gaza operation.

Israel is trapped by its own advanced power, as so many think that we can win the Palestinians by using force. I argue that the last PM from Arik Sharon, to Ehud Olmert, Barak and Zipi clearly recognized that we cannot win by force and were seeking agreements. but the general public, as any general public in the world, cannot see the complexity and vote and expect simple solution by using force. this public exists in both sides and elect and promote leaders that do not have the complexity thinking to get us all into agreements and peace.
After the ethnic cleansing of 1947-1949, some Palestinains had managed to stay in the "Jewish state". The "Absentee property laws" enacted in 1950 allowed removal of ownership from teh refugees and denial of their right top return. This law stated, "all absentees' property is under the care of a custodian." Under this law, absentees were defined as anyone who had been away from his home, either within the borders of Israel or in a neighboring state, on or after November 29, 1947. This new legislation gave rise to a new and paradoxical category: "Present Absentees," i.e., those Palestinians who had remained inside the borders of the state after November 29, 1947, but who were outside of their village. These citizens, also known as "internal refugees," account for at least one fourth of all Palestinian citizens in Israel. In 1958, the Knesset passed the Israel Lands law, a basic law that prohibits transfer of land ownership: "The ownership of Israel lands, being the lands in Israel of the State, the Development Authority or the Keren Kayemet Le-Israel, shall not be transferred either by sale or in any other manner." In 1960, a new state body, the Israel Lands Authority, was established as a governmental office responsible for the administration of all Israeli Lands including the lands of the "absentees" and the law became applicable to this body. Thus, the land is administered for Jewish development but can never be transferred or owned by others.

In 1958, the Law of Return was amended so as not to apply to those born as Jews who converted to other religious faiths. The law was upheld despite a 1962 challenge by Oswald Rufeisen. Rufeisen belonged to a Zionist youth movement in Poland. He was a holocaust survivor who saved other Jews but later converted to Chrsitianity and became a priest. In the 1950s, he moved to Israel. The state denied his petition for citizenship under the Law of Return. The High Court of Justice rejected his claim even though the Chief Rabbinate ruled in his favor because he was "Jewish" based on Halacha rules. In 1970, the guidelines of immigration eligibility were more clearly defined and it now states that anyone who is the child or grandchild of a Jew can immigrate and also bring their families with them. But the1958 law barring converted Jews is still in force.

Until recently, the Israel interior ministry issued ID cards to citizens that list their "nationality" (Jewish, Arab, Druze, Assyrian). The full list was kept confidential but the ministry refused requests by a group calling itself "I am Israeli" to list their nationality as "Israeli." The ministry instead chose to drop the designation on the cards all together. Legally, the category of "Israeli nationality" simply does not exist. Israel's supreme court decision of 1970 in George Tamarin v The State of Israel simply ruled that there is no Israeli Nationality apart from Jewish Nationality (Le'om, Am Yisrael). President of the High Court Justice Shimon explained that recognizing an Israeli nationality “would negate the very foundation upon which the State of Israel was formed"

The minority of Palestinians who managed to remain in the newly formed state of Israel (1/4th of the original Palestinian population) are the most directly impacted by Israeli law. Absentee laws allowed the Israeli government to declare that non-Jews who left (refugees) or had remained and become "equal" Israeli citizens to be declared absent in order that their property could be confiscated as "abandoned" property. The property is turned over to the Jewish Agency for the exclusive use of Jews. In the law it does not use the word "Jews" but the words "those who benefit from the law of return", which is equivalent to Jews. In fact, there have been Palestinians, who are nominally Israeli citizens, who tried to lease their own land and were not allowed to because they were not Jews (see below).

Here is some of what Tom Segev wrote on "Absentee law" in his book:

The definition in the law was changed to embrace all who had abandoned their 'usual place of residence', even if they were still living in (and "equal" residents of) Israel ... the law defined them as absentees, even if they had only left their homes for a few days and stayed with relatives in a nearby village or town, waiting for the fighting to end. Later they came to be referred to as 'present absentees' (in Hebrew, nochihim nifkadim). The majority of them were not allowed to return to their homes. Those refugees who were permitted to return to Israel after the war were also formally absentees and their property was not restored to them and quoting M. Porath in a secret report to the Minister of Finance:

".. the fact that we are holding the property of legal residents of the country, who otherwise enjoy all the normal rights of citizenship, is a source of great bitterness and constant agitation among the Arabs who are affected by it. Most of the complaints made by Arabs against our department are made by 'absentees' who see their property in the hands of others and can't bear it. These absentees try by every means to get their lands back, and offer to lease them even at exorbitant rents. In accordance with the general rule originally established, our office does not lease the lands expropriated by the government to the present absentees (i.e. non-Jews), so as not to weaken our control over the properties ... The number of 'present absentees' runs into the thousands, most of them owners of real estate. There are already new people (Jews) living on some of these properties ... Any attempt to return the properties to these absentees would, therefore, adversely affect thousands, or tens of thousands, of settlers ..." (ref 6)

Thus, inside the green line (Israel's borders before 1967), legislation forms the basis for justifying government land acquisition and transfer from native people (gentiles) to Jewish settlers

FRom my book "Sharing the Land of Canaan"
Mazin,

Do you know of Abu Ghosh :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghosh

Abu Ghosh (Arabic: أبو غوش‎; Hebrew: אבו גוש‎) is an Israeli Arab town located 10 kilometers west of Jerusalem on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, 610-720 meters above sea level. Abu Ghosh is named for a Bedouin clan that exacted a toll from pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. Its inhabitants are known for their friendly relations with their Jewish neighbors. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the residents of Abu Ghosh maintained a neutral stance and did not participate in the fighting.

It show that Arab could work with the Jews and today this is a very prosperous village that even Jews are now living there

Partly due to public outcry, most of the inhabitants were allowed to return home. In the end, only several dozen Abu Ghosh families remained in exile, as refugees, in the Ramallah area in the West Bank.[5]

Abu Sami, a village elder, told the Toronto Globe and Mail: "Perhaps because of the history of feuding with the Arabs around us we allied ourselves with the Jews...against the British. We did not join the Arabs from the other villages bombarding Jewish vehicles in 1947. The Palmach fought many villages around us. But there was an order to leave us alone. The other Arabs never thought there would be a Jewish government here...During the first truce of the War of Independence, I was on my way to Ramallah to see my father and uncles, and I was captured by Jordanian soldiers. They accused me of being a traitor and tortured me for six days."[6]

JERUSALEM - FEBRUARY 10: An Arab Israeli woman casts her ballot for the parliamentary elections at a school in the Arab Israeli village of Abu-Gush next to Jerusalem on February 10, 2009 in Jerusalem. Israel is going to the polls today in what is described as a tight race between former premier Benjamin Netanyahu and centrist Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
There is more history, pictures etc on Abu Ghosh (also known as Qaryat AlInab = the grape's village) here at Palestine Remembered: http://www.palestineremembered.com/GeoPoints/Qaryet_al__Inab_Abu_Go...

I do not know much about Jewish and Muslim relations in the area but the village did lose a lot of land to the surrounding colonial settlements.
Israel was sick and tired of 8 years of rocket attacks from their "friends" from Gaza.
The reaction is a move to the right.
The land for peace deal didn't work with Gush Kativ.
Peace for the West means: " We live as neighbors without attacking each other."
Peace for Islam means: "Submission to Islam."
Two entirely different concepts, don't you think?
To paraphrase you
Palestine was sick and tired of 60 years of colonial occupation from their "friends" who came from Russia/poland etc
The reaction was a move to the right.
The collaboration and subjugation to colonial power by Abu Mazen/Mahmoud Abbas didn't work.
Peace for the whole world means "respect international law and return what you stole"
Peace for Ashkenazic racism in teh form of Zionism means "submission to the chosen people"
Two entirely different concepts don't you think?
Lilo,

no need to Support Israel here, we are looking for ways to change Israel and Palestine. If you think that only Palestine need to change, you might find that you cannot cooperate with Palestinians and Arabs.

There is a great forum of people who wish to protect Israel Truth and Justice and if you realy feel a need to protect Israel try the Palestinian Mothers which even I was banned from.

we cannot live as neighbors without attacking each other especially when people like you miss understand Islam as a religion of Peace.and your fears are evident.

we cannot live as neighbors without attacking each other when we took so much of the Palestine land and water resources as we took Jerusalem the religious resource for all great religions. This is no way to be neighbors.

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