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What do you call a politician who promises more war?

Election season is a time when most people expect to be presented with a hopeful vision for the future. In Israel, every single leading political figure is promising more of the same.

Israel’s election season officially went into full swing over the weekend as lists of candidates were finalized and the deadline for parties to merge came and went without any last-minute surprises.

While very few of the major parties have published official platforms for the upcoming elections, their leaders and senior officials are beginning to shape what voters can expect from them.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Israel Beitenu party, which is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal, is a subscriber of a two-state future of sorts. His vision centers on forced population transfer and the encouraged migration of Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. ‘A third Lebanon war is inevitable.’ (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Liberman on Sunday pivoted his campaign on something else: fear. Instead of offering Israelis hope for a better future, the strongman politician promised more war.

“A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,” Liberman told Ynet. He added that his party will never sit in a left-wing government, essentially shifting his two-state support into something far-off and unimportant.

His political foes aren’t offering anything more hopeful.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, running together on a joint list they are calling the “Zionist Camp,” all but made the same promise — offering an identical path vis-à-vis Hamas in Gaza that the current government embarked upon, while deriding Netanyahu for compromising and reaching a cease fire.

Speaking near the Gaza border a day after announcing their joint ticket, Livni said: “Hamas is a terrorist organization and there is no hope for peace with it… the only way to act against it is with force – we must use military force against terror… this is instead of Netanyahu’s policy to come to an agreement with Hamas.”

Regarding the more mainstream idea of making peace with more “moderate” Palestinians in the West Bank, Livni and Herzog have used the word hope. But that hope lies entirely in the same framework for peace that has failed for over two decades. Good intentions, maybe; hope, not so much.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising to never evacuate West Bank settlements and has in the past said he would not relinquish Israeli control over the Jordan Valley, all but guaranteeing that there can be no viable two-state solution.

Regarding more tangible security issues, and the wars in which they often result, Netanyahu’s main campaign mantra is that his opponents cannot stand up to Israel’s enemies as strongly (read: violently) as he can. His track record is one of covert and overt warfare, in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon — not to mention messianic threats of a second Holocaust emanating from Tehran.

After a +972 poll in December found that fewer than 9 percent of Israelis support the perpetuation of the status quo of the Palestinian conflict, I wrote that change cannot come until Israeli politicians offer a vision for change Israelis can believe in:

Today there is no vision. And so the country will do what it knows how to — hunker down and hope for the best, improvising here and there along the way in order to survive.

That might mean ousting the Netanyahu government, which has no vision. It might mean electing a centrist party that has a vision they no longer believe to be viable or realistic. It very well might mean moving further to the right toward a vision of annexation and constitutionalized inequality, but which at least hasn’t failed time and again for 20 years.

Two months later, in the middle of an election season, when a reasonable person might most expect to be presented with a hopeful vision for the future, such hope is nowhere to be found.

Instead, we have politicians who promise more war.

Related:
War on Gaza: A promise Israeli politicians can keep
The Israeli government’s election gift to West Bank settlers

Special Coverage: 2015 Elections

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    COMMENTS

    1. Mikesailor

      What do you call a politician who promises more war? Simple. You call him a Zionist. And as a corollary, a coward who wallows in the blood of the defenseless.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ginger Eis

      Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man,

      What would you call a politician who says this:

      “I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat”?

      You see, Mr. Omer-Man, everything is about context. When you paraphrase Israeli politicians and discuss their political opinions outside of the context in which those opinions were expressed, you are in fact engaged in distortion and propaganda. It should and in fact must be clear to you that the wars Israel fought in Gaza and Lebanon were forced on Israel. It must be clear to you that the Hamas in Gaza has refused to demilitarize, is rebuilding its military arsenal as we speak and producing more missiles that will target major Israeli population centers and economic infrastructures such as BGI, fuel depots, etc., and is, as such, preparing for another war which it will force on the Jewish State. No Western country on earth will ignore that threat and pretend that nothing is happening. The State of Israel had no choice in the past and will have no other in the future, but to defend her civilian population against certain death, grave bodily injury and wanton destruction of property. That, Mr. Omer-Man, is the context of those statements by Livni, Herzog, Lieberman, Netanyahu, etc. Uprooting said statements from their context and using them to paint Israeli politicians as war-mongers is dishonest, dishonorable, and despicably unprofessional – plain and simple! Given the security reality in which Israel exists today, any of the politicians you smear has indeed the responsibility to tell the People of Israel: “I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” – Winston Churchill.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        GE: “What would you call a politician who says this:”

        Hmmm, note that he gave that speech when his country was already at war.

        Which means that I would call that politician a “war-time Prime Minister”.

        But that isn’t the same thing as a politician who is campaigning on the basis of: Elect Me And I Promise To Start Wars.

        Even Winston Churchill didn’t do that.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Israel have been in a state of war from the moment of her coming-into-being to this day. Indeed, our enemies pompously, gloatingly promise in no uncertain term that they intend to annihilate us. As we speak, our enemies are preparing for major wars – from Tehran to Gaza and Lebanon and killing Israelis in the streets of Israel. Israelis are keenly aware of that and need no politician to remind them of it. You are of course entitled to your own opinion and, as such, free to disagree, but Israelis won’t bury their heads in the sand and pretend that all is hunky-dory. Israelis are not stupid. We hate wars and violence more than any other people on earth because almost every family in Israel knows the pain of losing our young brothers and sisters/sons and daughters in wars; we bear the pain of the horrors of the unimaginable violent deaths of IDF-soldiers incl. those who were burnt alive in APCs struck by RPGs, etc. War is horrific and we don’t want it. We don’t want any more of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11c5iEPV8lc ! But, if we are forced to fight and defend ourselves and our country, fight we will. And – regardless of who the PM is (beware of the wrath of women like Livni) we will crush the enemy with iron fist!

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            It is also patent nonsense: the Arab League has repeatedly offered a full normalization of relations in return for the end of occupation – Israel simply ignored the offers. Egypt and Jordan have made enduring peace, Syria offered a full peace in return for full withdrawal from the Golan. You have the chance for full normalcy, recognition and peace within your 1967 borders – but no: you have deliberately chosen a path of continued expansion and oppression. And when I say “you” I do not refer to the Israeli people as a whole but the small clique of politicians, generals, arms-dealers, settlement builders, and the political and religious bigots who back them, and unfortunately dominate Israeli society and media.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, Right

            GE: “Israel have been in a state of war from the moment of her coming-into-being to this day.”

            Who is Israel at war with today, Ginger?

            No, honestly, who is Israel at war with at this precise moment?

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Isn’t it amazing that you are not more popular within the region? You upsticks from Europe uninvited (except by carefully cultivated members of the European colonial ruling class), you turn up with a gun and a bible, and you immediately begin plotting how to drive the native population out of the land. Having established a state you then attack your neighbours in unbridled wars of colonial expansion (especially 1956). You gain more territory by wars of choice (1967) and then refuse to listen to the civilized world when it insists that colonial wars of conquest should be a thing of the past. You kill civilians with impunity. You alienate allies like Turkey (by an utterly foolish attack on humanitarian relief efforts) and black Africa (by backing the Apartheid regime in return for a few arms sales) and Europe (by stealing passports in order to mount extraterritorial assassination vendettas). You subvert democracy by cheap stunts like Netanyahu’s current fiasco, and a constant battle to undermine international humanitarian law. You continue to resist reasonable peace proposals with absurd pretexts (refugees have no rights unless they are Jewish, and Jerusalem cannot possibly be shared despite its central role in all the main monotheisms). And then you have the gall to complain that no one loves you?

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            …“Go find something useful to do with what remains of you miserable, empty old life, find peace and …”

            (that’s a correction)

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            “…Go find something useful to do with what remains of you miserable, empty old life, find peace and….”

            was meant.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Icat, I’m worried about your state of mind. Why do you have this incoherent anger consuming you, when anyone says anything? Have you investigated treatment? The doctors can achieve miracles these days? Please get a little bit of counseling at the very least, or take a holiday, or read a few good books, and then come back when your a little more balanced.

            Reply to Comment
          • jjj

            Amazing, a full paragraph, and not even one sentence is historically correct.
            You are the king of anti-zionist propaganda my friend!

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Plenty of points that you could contradict with evidence rather than utterly unspecific generalization. Perhaps you could even offer your own suggestions as to why Israel is so deeply unpopular?

            Reply to Comment
      • Emanuel Shahaf

        Neither the war in Lebanon (2006) nor the war in Gaza was forced on Israel. In both cases Israel chose to use a provocation, vis-a-vis Lebanon a 2006 cross border attack by Hizbollah with military casualties and vis-a-vis Gaza the 2014 murder of three civilians, to start an almost unlimited war with huge casualties. In both situations the use of force was hugely disproportional and so were the casualty numbers. In both cases Israel was not attacked by rockets until after launching a disproportional response. So don’t misrepresent the facts in evidence.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Mikesailor

      Lieberman as Churchill? Are you smoking something restricted to Zionists or is it something in the water. Israeli politicians are, for the most part, blistering war criminals in waiting. The context is that as long as they can oppress the defenseless: steal and murder at will with impunity, they will continue prevaricating and brutalizing as long as they can. The crap Zionists try to spread is losing whatever credibility it ever had in the eyes of those not Zionists. Has Lebanon ever “attacked” Israel? Only in the minds of the brain-dead. And what is Gaza except Israel’s own version of the Warsaw Ghetto; compete with stormtroopers and other murderous thugs as guards?

      Reply to Comment
      • ICat

        I love it when Mohamed comes here claiming to be an “American”. I love it when an anti-Semite is cooking and stewing in his own juice, unable to comprehend what he reads, chaotically ranting and consistently incapable of making complete and correct English sentences, while claiming to be an “American”! You are one hell of a rambling idiot, Mohamed, and your rambling movies are always good to watch for a laugh.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Your use of “Mohamed” is racist.

          Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            How so? Not everyone who disagrees with you is “racist”, you know? Your use of “racist” does not make sense and needs explaining, unless are you are all about throwing words like “racist” around for some momentary emotional satisfaction and to cover –up your inability to make coherent arguments.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Don’t play dumb. “Mohamed” is a well known shorthand name employed disdainfully by anti-Arab racists to mean any Arab or an Arab or the Arabs. And here you slyly imply he is “an idiot” because of or in linkage to being “Mohamed”. And he must be Arab because he opposes you. Look, you can protest all you want but you fool no one. You are obnoxious. And come to think of it you seem from what I’m reading around here to call everyone who disagrees with you an anti-Semite. So to use your own words, not everyone who disagrees with you is an “anti-Semite”. That’s a form of slander. From what I’m reading around here you’re pretty good at that. Being a smear artist seems to be your stock in trade. And what coherent argument have you ever made? I’m not finding one. Like I said, you are obnoxious.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Ben – we can readily understand why the President of Israel diagnosed his society as “sick” when the two noisiest voices defending that society on this site have nothing more positive to say than (1) we are a tiny persecuted nation with enemies intent upon annihilating us (but we have the only nuclear weapons in the region, the strongest and most technologically advanced army in the region, and the enduring support of the world’s only remaining superpower) and (2) I am a racist bigot and delight in being one, but you are worse – if you dare to criticize my idiocy you must be an antisemite. Neither would possibly concede that the unnecessary death of a Palestinian civilian is as equally tragic as the unnecessary death of an Israeli citizen, nor that overwhelmingly more Palestinian and Lebanese civilians have died in recent years than Israeli civilians, nor that nearly all the Israeli soldiers that have died in the entire history of the conflict have died outside the official borders of the Jewish state. surely that last fact must say something about who are the war-mongers?

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            More eloquent, carefully argued, richly documented, logically developed discussion from one of the sickest of the sick – and I am not referring to your physical state.

            Reply to Comment
          • ICat

            Of course, Bryan, when you recycle and regurgitate your usual incoherent mumbo jumbo, diatribe and vitriol, you expect an “eloquent, carefully argued, richly documented, logically developed discussion” – while wallowing in the illusion of that you somehow appear as “educated”. What a psychotic old turd! Tell us, Bryan, how did Ginger Eis manage to unglue you today, get all the screws and bolts in your head coming off and force you into the current psychosis you are experiencing and displaying publicly? Time to go take you meds, old man, and get some rest.

            Reply to Comment
    4. Mikesailor

      Poor Hairball: Still trying to earn your stripes as a hasbarista and still can’t make the grade. When you finally learn to make a semi-cogent argument rather than spouting your deflection drivel, your owner may finally give you a kitty treat. Although I would think you might be better off with some hairball medicine for your constant kvetching is somewhat off-putting.

      Reply to Comment
    5. viktor arajs

      It is time for Obama and the Iranian National Guard to take on the zionist menace.This is why Iran has become Americas number one ally in the Middle East- to contain and eventually end zionist colonialism

      Reply to Comment
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