Many in the Israeli Left saw the recent election defeat as a danger to democracy. But if the Left wants to win elections, it needs to let go of its anti-Mizrahi fear-mongering and racism. by Elad Ben Elul (translated by Joshua Tartakovsky) In order to understand the outcome of the recent elections in Israel, one has to step away from the two central conceptual frameworks that make up the discourse of most Israelis, but in fact do not capture the complex reality below the surface. One has to step away from the traditional boxes of “Right” versus “Left” and of…Read More... | 18 Comments
On election day, Palestinians in East Jerusalem aren't worrying about who will be the next prime minister — they are too busy trying to protect their homes. I decided to start my day, Election Day, at the Western Wall. With all due respect to the ballot box, the Wall is the real thing when it comes to depositing small pieces of paper. The entire plaza was surprisingly empty. Aside from tourists there were very few worshipers. Three ultra-Orthodox girls giggled behind a table near the entrance, writing something on small pieces of paper. With a smile, I ask them if…Read More...
The Israeli prime minister called elections hoping to strengthen his coalition, but he underestimated the personal resentment many Israelis feel toward him. One shouldn't, however, confuse the fierce competition for power with a battle over ideas: even if Labor wins, the end of the occupation is not around the corner. When Benjamin Netanyahu decided to fire Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and send Israelis to the polls for the second time in a little over two years, many people (myself included) defined these elections as “a referendum on Netanyahu.” Final results will only be in on…Read More... | 12 Comments
The use of racially loaded code words at an anti-Netanyahu rally highlights the inter-Jewish racism that has plagued Israeli society and politics since day one. A look at the correlation between ethnic background and voting patterns. The anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv Saturday night was meant to be a high point of the campaign to oust Israel's prime minister in next week’s general elections — a last hoorah before a triumphant storming of the polls. But as such events go, it left a lot to be desired. The turnout was unimpressive, the speakers predictable, and the mood, attendees reported after the event,…Read More... | 5 Comments
How much do this country's Jews really know about Arab society, especially around election time? The head of the Mossawa Center, Jafar Farah, says Israelis have only their media to blame for their ignorance. By Oren Persico The last attempt by the Mossawa Center to ensure fair representation for the Arab population in Israel's news coverage during the election season seems to have failed. Much like all its previous attempt. Two months ago, the center, which works to protect the rights of Israel's Arab citizens, sent a letter to the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, as well as dozens…Read More... | 1 Comment
By simply discussing the disqualification of MK Haneen Zoabi and Baruch Marzel from the upcoming elections, the extreme right has already claimed another victory. The double-hearing held in the Supreme Court on Tuesday under an extended panel headed by Justice Naor, to discuss the disqualification of MK Haneen Zoabi and Baruch Marzel, respectively, was one of the more depressing displays of the absurdity we call "Israeli democracy." The constant worshiping of "balance" in the name of some imagined national sanity brought Zoabi – who represented the only party that calls for full equality in Israel – to the same…Read More... | 13 Comments
Although it is run by ultra-Orthodox men and its path for social mobility is anchored in religion, Shas remains the only truly socially minded political party and is certainly the only Mizrahi party. One voter's search for answers. By Efrat Shani-Shitrit A few weeks ago, flyers targeting the women of north Tel Aviv were posted around the suburban streets of one of its better-known neighborhoods, Ramat Aviv: "If you live in Ramat Aviv, don't vote for us. If you work for someone who lives in Ramat Aviv: Only Shas." Aryeh Deri, who until the most recent Knesset had not led the…Read More... | 20 Comments
The ultra-Orthodox party, which has drifted far to the right over the past several years, reaches out to the all the Israelis who are not middle-class - which is to say, the majority. Shas, the party founded by the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and today led by Rabbi Aryeh Deri, is usually seen as the narrowly-sectorial party of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox. Even the kingmaker status it had enjoyed for nearly two decades is usually (and rather haughtily) ascribed by commentators to their ability to march a docile and obedient religious minority to the polling stations, rather than to broad popular…Read More... | 7 Comments
Netanyahu has more paths to the Prime Minister's Office than Herzog, but also more party leaders who oppose him personally. Seventy-one days ahead of Israel’s general elections, two major stories are dominating the political news cycle: the showdown between Shas’s former leaders – Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai – and the corruption affair involving senior politicians from Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu party. Both Shas and Liberman lost some ground in last week’s polls, while Yishai’s newly formed party is coming close to passing the Knesset threashold, currently at 4 seats (3.25 percent of the votes). Netanyahu’s Likud party held its…Read More... | 17 Comments
I’m planning to vote for Meretz, but if Kahlon has a chance on election day of beating Netanyahu, I’ll vote for him. I was talking a couple of days ago about the upcoming elections with a friend from work, a middle-class, American-born Ashkenazi immigrant with a Ph. D. in political science. He told me he was voting for the left-wing, largely Arab Hadash party. I asked who he would vote for if, on election day, which is tentatively set for March 17, the “wild card” in the race, ex-Likudnik Moshe Kahlon, had a chance to become the next prime minister.…Read More... | 37 Comments
The former Shas chairman was one of the most vocal opponents of African refugees in Israel. But after Yishai was replaced, the party's attitudes may have changed. +972 speaks to Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin. By Aaron Magid Just over a year ago, then Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared that until he could deport African asylum seekers, he would “lock them up to make their lives miserable.” In a different interview he claimed that most of the Africans in Israel are Muslims, exclaiming, “[they] think that the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” But a year…Read More...
The first reaction of the Israeli Right to the possible revival of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations has been to rush legislation ensuring a referendum on a future agreement. The idea is to supplement Israel’s 2010 law with provisions that tailor it to apply to any kind of agreement (the existing law passed in 2010 is somewhat more limited), and to make it harder to overturn such a law. A recent poll I conducted for Open Zion at The Daily Beast among Jewish Israelis showed that a clear majority of respondents – 53 percent to 34 percent – prefer to hold a…Read More... | 17 Comments
From up close, a wall can seem smooth, unbreakable and infinite – it is the only thing in sight. The wall, a wall of despair or a wall of separation, is real. But by taking a few steps back, either physically or spiritually, cracks in the wall can come into sight. By Moriel Rothman I’ve been in the U.S. for almost two weeks now, and I’ve begun to see cracks in the "Despair-Wall" that I wasn’t seeing – or wasn’t able to see – 14 days ago. When I boarded the plane departing from Ben Gurion International Airport, it was with feelings of darkness, of…Read More... | 4 Comments
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