The new legislation will benefit medium-sized parties like the settlers’ Jewish Home and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, while increasing the influence of big money on politics. The Knesset approved today (Tuesday) several changes in its elections and governance laws. Among other things, the changes will make it more difficult to challenge the government in a vote of non-confidence, and set the threshold for entering the Knesset at 3.25 percent, or roughly four Knesset seats. The legislation is a joint initiative by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu (which united with Netanyahu’s Likud party prior to the…Read More... | 28 Comments
The Israeli debate over the Kerry initiative has an unpleasant top-down feeling to it. By Tal Schneider Is it only me who feels that the debate regarding a possible peace agreement with the Palestinians exists mostly among PR companies (from both sides), copywriters and graphic designers? I feel that there is zero grassroots activity and a maximum amount of billboards. The fight between different advertisers was featured prominently on the front page of Haaretz on Wednesday, January 29th. On the upper left corner one can see the new campaign by Breaking the Impasse, under the title “A strong state signs a…Read More... | 20 Comments
History has shown that the longer the ultra-Orthodox are excluded from the Israeli coalition, the more likely are the chances that they forge alliances with left-of-centre and dovish partners. Could the Haredi parties be the ones to tip the balance in favor of a peace agreement? By Romana Michelon As of late July, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is once again making global headlines. Largely the result of the diplomatic efforts made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, this is the first time since 2010 that chief negotiators representing Israel and the Palestinian Authority confront one another in direct, albeit…Read More... | 4 Comments
The debate over recent child subsidy cuts rests on empty myths and demagogic misinterpretations of Arabs and Haredim. They are not simply parasites and they are not the same, but Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner is upset and that's what matters. It is seldom worth writing an entire blog post just to deconstruct that of another commentator, especially when terrible global events are more important than poor punditry. But reading Shmuel Rosner’s latest post in the New York Times, my heart sank. The piece isn’t just foolish – it actually contributes to the most divisive dynamics of Israeli society through demagoguery…Read More... | 42 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
More and more, members of Israel's ruling parties are matching their public statements to the reality they are implementing every minute on the ground: Israel's opposition to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict. Economy Minister and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett is the latest MK to join a robust list of Israeli government coalition members who have publicly stated that the two-state solution is dead and that the notion of a Palestinian state is a thing of the past. Although it's no new position for him, Bennett is making it clear that no…Read More... | 59 Comments
Instead of a budget that slashes money for important environmental projects, an Israeli “Green New Deal” will bring hope for economic growth and advance the wellbeing of all echelons of society. By Mossi Raz A threefold crisis has developed in Israel in recent years. The most prominent crisis, most often featured in the media, is economic: manifested mainly in the state budget’s shortfalls. Israel is facing a budget deficit caused by a decline in the state’s income from direct taxation, a just method in theory, but not when implemented through Netanyahu’s misguided policy of reducing corporate tax payments, as a…Read More... | 2 Comments
A Facebook post expressing shock and dismay about the occupation by new MK Adi Koll of the 'centrist' Yesh Atid party went viral over the weekend. Has segregation between Israelis and Palestinians become so entrenched in Israeli society that expressing empathy for Palestinians is a shocking aberration? After reading MK Adi Koll's Facebook status that Noam Sheizaf translated and posted, which has gone viral in both Hebrew and English since it came out Sunday, I paused and thought to myself: Why is this getting so much attention? What's the big deal? Okay, a Knesset member posted a comment about how awful…Read More... | 41 Comments
Adi Koll, a relatively unknown Knesset member from Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party, posted this picture along with an uncharacteristically long and emotional status on Facebook, the day after she paid a visit to the home of a Palestinian friend in Ramallah. (Translated in full below) Warning! This post will be long, controversial and without color photos, even though I have plenty of photos. I made sure to take pictures throughout the day with the intention posting them to Facebook so I can show what we would all rather forget. But now it feels pointless. No picture can describe…Read More... | 44 Comments
Oh, and the settlements are in very, very good hands. One of Israel’s leading sociologists, the late Baruch Kimmerling, is responsible for coining the term “Ahusalim (אחוס”לים),” to describe those who ruled Israel for decades. It is an acronym in Hebrew for “Ashkenazi, secular, old guard, socialists, and nationalists.” ASOSNs, for us English speakers. I guess Kimmerling was trying to find something similar to WASP, and although he came up with a term that became widely used, let’s face it - phonetically it’s a flop. As I write these lines, the coalition agreements between the Likud, Jewish Home and Yesh…Read More... | 16 Comments
People who see Netanyahu as the great Jewish avenger should know how low he's willing to go in exploiting the memory of Jewish suffering. I can never get over the shamelessness with which Israeli nationalist power freaks will exploit people's memories of anti-Semitic persecution for their own low purposes. Nobody's better at it than Netanyahu; he can barely make a speech without waving around a document or two from some Holocaust-era archive. And he's always got that furious expression on his face, as if to warn his audience not to even dare think that he's faking it, that he's…Read More... | 41 Comments
After signing Tzipi Livni onto his coalition, Netanyahu doesn't need Yair Lapid anymore - he can have the haredim and Naftali Bennett while pacifying Obama. Give the devil his due: Bibi pulled off a masterstroke yesterday by signing Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah party to his coalition. Now he's got clear sailing to his ideal government - one made up of the right wing and ultra-Orthodox, his base, but one that also keeps Obama and the Europeans off his back by giving the appearance - completely hollow - that he intends to try to move toward peace with the Palestinians. That's…Read More... | 21 Comments
If Yair Lapid's party takes over the Education Ministry, it could bring an end to the Greater-Israelization of the country's schools and universities. After 45 years of occupation and no end in sight, it would be better for Israel to have a completely right-wing/ultra-Orthodox government than a right-wing/centrist one with Yair Lapid, Kadima and possible other fig leaves. A purely hardline government would attract more opposition, especially abroad, while a right/center amalgam will fool a lot of people into thinking things aren't so bad. In short, a Bibi/Lapid government is more beneficial to the occupation than a Bibi/Yishai government -…Read More... | 13 Comments
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