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  • The Israeli opposition failed. Here's how it can redeem itself

    Israel’s next coalition stands to be one of the most pro-annexationist parliaments in the history of the state. Now, it's up to the opposition to defend democracy. Dear Opposition — There is really no way to say this nicely: you failed. You failed in the campaign, and you have failed over the past decade, while Netanyahu governed with a far-right hand. [tmwinpost] Blue and White, you failed to realize that voters who oppose Netanyahu wanted a difference in substance. By the end, I heard too many people complaining that your party didn’t have any. Perhaps you thought that anyone who wants…

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  • Why these Israeli elections actually matter

    Netanyahu looms so large that he has become a symbol of everything that’s right and wrong with Israel. But behind the symbol stand two very substantive visions of where Israel is headed. Like most weeks over the last decade, this was a week of Netanyahu. It began on Saturday evening when the prime minister gave a rare, surprise live television interview on Channel 2. The interview was his first to a mainstream Israeli media outlet in four years, guaranteed to make news for that reason alone. From there he flew to Washington to receive a prize from President Trump: American…

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  • Do Israelis vote for political ideology or cult of personality?

    Although Israelis have historically voted for strong political frontmen, it seems that dazzling personalities are no longer sufficient to winning elections. It turns out that voters are looking at the values, worldview, and policies. Last October, Lior Shlein, Israel’s top satirist, made a convincing case that Yair Lapid is a cult leader. Lapid was a TV celeb who entered politics in 2013 trading on his teeny-bop looks and name recognition. He had no discernible ideology other than a vague promise to represent the mostly middle classes behind the social protest of 2011. Yet despite his own tony demographic, his Yesh Atid party…

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  • What Labor's new leader must do to resuscitate the Left

    Instead of creating an lifeboat for undesired political has-beens, new Labor leader Avi Gabbay should try to unite Israel's center-left behind a defiant message in the face of an emboldened right-wing coalition. By Abe Silberstein There are more than enough reasons for Labor Party voters to be thoroughly skeptical of their recently-elected leader, Avi Gabbay. He has little to no political experience, and the little experience he does have comes from the center-right of Israel's political spectrum: he helped co-found Kulanu with finance minister Moshe Kahlon, which continues to back the Netanyahu government despite a steady increase in undemocratic legislation and mounting…

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  • The Israeli Left must show up to protest 50 years of occupation

    After 50 years of a racist military regime, it's time for the Israeli Left to go out and protest en masse — and, in the face of such an urgent task, to overlook our differences. Things can sometimes be very simple. Read, for example, the following invitation to the anti-occupation protest taking place in Tel Aviv this Saturday night: We will take to the streets en masse to protest against the absence of hope from the right-wing government, against the occupation, against violence and racism. This extremist group in the coalition, drunk on power, cannot be allowed to continue running…

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  • Unraveling Netanyahu's Sephardic spin

    Netanyahu knows that even in 2016, Mizrahim have the ability to kick him out of power. Benjamin Netanyahu has seen better weeks. Between being strong-armed by members of his cabinet over the confirmation of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister, and the fact that his wife, Sara, may soon be indicted over her unscrupulous handling of the prime minister's households, the past few days have been rough. But amid the turbulence, Bibi was able to find a golden calf and, true to form, milk it for all its worth. [tmwinpost] On paper the story seems both simple and innocuous: early last…

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  • Labor must take the security narrative back from Netanyahu

    The first step is to replace party leader Isaac Herzog, who has adopted the prime minister’s approach to the Palestinians and was willing to join his government. By Nathan Hersh and Abe Silberstein When Netanyahu abandoned the possibility of forming a coalition with Zionist Union by appointing Avigdor Liberman as defense minister, many on the Israeli center-left, including Labor chairman Isaac Herzog and liberal columnist Ari Shavit, were quick to self-flagellate. The truth is there was no missed opportunity, unless one is speaking of the chance to commit political suicide by linking up with a prime minister who had no…

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  • Another Netanyahu lie at CAP

    Netanyahu claims that more Arabs voted for him than Labor in the last election. That's simply false. Think Progress, the internet news arm of the Center for American Progress, fact-checked Netanyahu's talk at the influential Democratic think-tank yesterday. They found no less than 10 problematic statements on "the big issues." As many observers were quick to point out, the problem was that nobody at the event knew enough to directly challenge Netanyahu on his statements — many of them inaccurate, out of context, or completely false. [tmwinpost] Here is a little something Think Progress missed: Netanyahu was asked about his…

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  • Why the 'hijacking' of Israeli democracy is a myth

    We often hear that that Israeli democracy is being 'hijacked' by a group of right-wing extremists. Too bad the alternatives aren't any more appealing. Labor MK Stav Shaffir, darling of the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” crowd, recently implored progressive American Jews to do what liberal Zionists have been attempting for the better half of the past decade: reclaim the “real” Zionism from the extreme right wing’s ideological bastardizations. [tmwinpost] Speaking to a conference of the Union for Reform Judaism in Florida last week, Shaffir tasked liberal American Jewry with explaining the “complexity" of Israel’s political map, namely that Benjamin Netanyahu and his proxies…

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  • A most moral occupation: Keeping the prisoners in line

    Does Israel have the right to turn millions of the people under its control into prisoners simply because it is afraid of what might happen once they are released? The UNHRC report on Gaza and testimonies published by local watchdog group "Breaking the Silence" have sparked yet another round of debate over the IDF's moral standards, or lack thereof. These debates have become yet another way for Israeli society — and at times, the international community — to talk about the occupation without actually discussing it. My heart goes out to the people at Breaking the Silence, since I have a feeling…

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  • Election preview: Netanyahu's moment of truth

    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…

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  • Who really profits from Israel's permit regime?

    The number of work permits the Israeli army gives to Palestinian workers nearly tripled, a new Bank of Israel report reveals. Did all those people suddenly become less dangerous, or do the permits serve interests other than security? The normative framework for viewing Israel's permit regime is that it stems purely from the state's security needs — a tool that allows the state to differentiate between those Palestinians who threaten Israel's security, and those who do not. This notion remains largely unchallenged despite the fact that, time after time, its arbitrariness is made clear: during every Jewish holiday the permits…

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  • Netanyahu's Congress speech: An election stunt, after all

    Netanyahu didn't offer any new thinking on Iran, but he might have succeeded in regaining control over elections that were slipping away from him Ever since Speaker of the House John Boehner revealed his invitation to the Israeli prime minister to speak before a joint session of Congress, people have been wondering who exactly is playing who here. Is Bibi risking Israeli-American relations in order to help the GOP score points against President Obama, or did Boehner break protocol — by not informing the White House of the invitation — in order to help Netanyahu in the coming elections? Tonight…

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