A few days ago, Haaretz’s West Bank correspondence Chaim Levinson used his Facebook page to ask about the reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s success. Here is an excerpt from Levinson's post: What is in this man that Israelis cannot imagine life without him? […] In my opinion, [Netanyahu] does nothing. A coward pretending to be a leader […] he isn’t even trying to turn Israel into a better place. He doesn’t want to change a thing. He is the middle class of politics: trying to survive, day by day. If we can divide leaders into activists and those who refrain from action,…Read More... | 14 Comments
Over 5 million Israelis have the right to vote in the municipal elections today. National politics are not as directly reflected in municipal polls as they were in the past - when Likud and Labor used those as platform for securing their parties' political machines (plus, there just isn't much of a competition in the big cities) - but you can always learn about some of the deeper trends from them. Here are a few things to watch: 1. Jerusalem: Major Nir Barkat is favorite against Moshe Leon. Leon's candidacy is backed by a political deal between Shas' Aryeh Deri…Read More... | 6 Comments
After a stormy night session, the coalition was able to pass the necessary amendments and election laws that would make it more difficult to topple a government and eliminate small factions. Left-wing and Palestinian members of Knesset protested the legislation in 'silent speeches.' Ultra-Orthodox MK Eichler spoke to the Arab public in Arabic, saying 'we are with you.' (video below) During the last session of the Knesset before its summer recess, the coalition was able to pass a first reading of the “governance legislation,” - an amendment to Israel's Basic Laws - which would make it more difficult for the…Read More... | 33 Comments
An Israeli decision to continue the occupation is illegitimate, even if it was reached through a democratic process. Democracy has no meaning when the population at hand is not allowed to take part in it. This is a slightly modified translation of my weekly op-ed in the Israeli daily Maariv. "Occupation denial" is the latest trend in the Israeli (and American) conversation regarding the conflict. Conservative scholars are presenting a revisionist reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention, claiming that it never applied to the West Bank and Gaza, while politicians are claiming that the term "occupation" is biased. Yet all those…Read More... | 33 Comments
One simple answer to the question of why elections matter is that I feel part of something when I vote in Israel. Being away for four months, living deep inside the world of other peoples’ conflicts, provided a few more answers. For the first time since moving to Israel 15 years ago, I was not in the county on election day yesterday. Since Israel has no absentee voting for regular citizens, I was not able to participate. Given the wild demonization of the Left over the last few years, some people probably wonder why I even care. My colleagues at…Read More... | 7 Comments
An Israeli university student discusses the process that led him to give his vote to a Palestinian friend without one. By Liel Maghen As an Israel citizen and believer democracy, I have always cherished my ability to vote. Through last three elections, I have implemented this right with an authentic belief that using it is my responsibility as a citizen and that it has a real effect on my daily life. However, since the last election, I have learned that the right to vote is not a basic right in my country, but a privilege dependent on geography and ethnicity.…Read More... | 2 Comments
Until few days ago, I wasn't able to vote. According to the Israeli system, I still cannot vote. However, my friend Liel Maghen asked to vote in my place, an act that if taken en masse, has the potential to shock and challenge Israel's policies of oppression like never before. Many Palestinians in Jerusalem are watching the Israeli elections unfold before their eyes without being able influence their outcome. After 1967, Israel annexed Jerusalem but didn't annex its population. Palestinians in Jerusalem became "residents" in their homeland. They were given some rights but were given no way to influence the government…Read More... | 9 Comments
'I cast my first vote ever today. It was in the Israeli elections where one vote really makes a difference, and I truly cherished this moment.' I’m in my mid-30s and I’m embarrassed to say I had never voted. For me, voting in the U.S. – where I spent much of my time – had sadly and frustratingly proven to be inconvenient and lacking of potential for impact. Make no mistake about it, I’m not an apathetic person and I treasure the value of the vote, especially after having seen first-hand, places where people don’t have it and what not…Read More... | 7 Comments
Remember when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a picture of a bomb while talking about Iran at the UNGA? Here's a reminder, complete with excellent memes. Today, Yesh Atid leader and Knesset Member wannabe Yair Lapid mocked the prime minister at an economic conference with a bomb of his own, detailing the tax hikes of the past two years under the Likud's rule. The middle class is exploding The tax rises on the middle class Housing prices: 37% Gas prices: 38% Water prices: 115% Electricity prices: 23% Lapid later went on to draw a red line above them all, implying…Read More... | 2 Comments
Two new election polls came out yesterday, both telling roughly the same story: the Likud-Beitenu party is losing some voters to the National Religious Party and to Otzma Le'Israel, an extreme faction led by former Kahane man Michael Ben-Ari. Both parties are identified with the settler movement (though settlers are well represented in Likud as well). According to the last poll, the National Religious Party (Habayit Hayehudi) will be the Knesset's third largest party following the elections. NRP has enjoyed new momentum since electing Naftali Bennet as its leader. Bennet, former chief of staff for Netanyahu, has launched a successful viral campaign…Read More... | 15 Comments
Last month's Gaza war-cum-onslaught now seems like a distant memory, a forgotten speck of death and destruction in a news cycle that is now dominated by the January 22 elections and all the recent political musical chairs that make our political system look like a chicken running around without a head. I am now supposed to get ready for what I have always been taught is my most prized privilege and duty as a citizen: to go to the ballot and make my voice heard. But when you've lost faith in your state - its government, military, courts and mainstream media - to the…Read More... | 47 Comments
The most important news about the Labor primaries is the depressing scarcity of news - most of the list belies the same old politics Israeli voters grew weary of years ago. Even J14 has not managed to breathe new life into the party - and the most prominent new figure on the ballot had to fight her way in past her own party leader. Israel's Labor party, widely viewed as the closest thing to an alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud, announced the results of its primaries on Friday, and its slate for the Knesset. The party is led…Read More... | 4 Comments
Israel launches a fresh operation on the Gaza Strip, killing Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari and several civilians. In the meanwhile, the opposition has never seemed so haggard. The assassination of Ahmad Jabari, the architect of both the recent Gilad Shalit prisoner swap and, more importantly, the détente that prevailed between Israel and Hamas for the past several years, is an uncharacteristically high-risk gamble by the Netanyahu and Barak duo. It's uncharacteristic not only because Netanyahu, in the past, has been extremely careful not to upset the apple cart and has repeatedly dialed up the violence in the Gaza Strip and…Read More... | 9 Comments
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