This week, as Israeli Boris Gelfand challenges Indian Viswanathan Anand in the World Chess Championship, the “Promised Podcast” gang discusses three topics that have little to do with the Game of Kings.
(1) Did anyone say elections? After weeks of speculation about the likelihood of early elections settled into consensus that the country would go to the polls on September 4, PM Netanyahu and Kadima head Mufaz shocked pretty much everyone by announcing that Kadima would join the coalition in forming a “National Unity Government.” This move was praised by some (as by Gerald Steinberg) and criticized by others (as by Aluf Benn). Pundits are furiously pondering whom the move will benefit, in the long run, and whom it will harm. (And here, about the Ultra-Orthodox.) Mufaz, meanwhile, is being portrayed as an opportunist scoundrel, and hastily organized protests call for a pox to be visited on the houses of all politicians (save, perhaps, that of Shelly Yachimovich. Some, by the way, say that this will allow a true opposition, if a small one, to operate in the Knesset for the first time in years.). We ask: Is this turn of events good for Israel? Will a unity government on this scale help us or hurt us? Is it healthy for Israeli democracy? Now that the deal is done, what is likely to happen this summer?
(2) The continuing hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners. More than three weeks ago, on April 17, 1200 (or perhaps as many as 2500 – estimates vary) Palestinians in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike, protesting their conditions and demanding more family visits and other such considerations. In so doing, they joined a hunger strike begun some 50 days earlier by two Palestinian prisoners. Several days ago, ten of these prisoners were transferred to Israeli hospitals for treatment. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of the prisoners who began their strike more than two months ago (and here). Amira Hess find the Israelis to blame for the strike. Shay Fogelman says, give into the prisoners’ demands. We ask: are the prisoners’ demands legit? Are their methods? Whether or not they are, how best ought Israel to respond?
(3) The remarkable life of Benzion Netanyahu. PM Netanyahu’s father, Benzion, was a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life through a remarkable epoch. This segment will review his life and life’s work, and address the question of how we ought to evaluate his rather chilling philosophy of Jewish life – in which efforts to cozy up to non-Jews are in all instances pathetically misguided and destined for tragedy — and its impact, if any, on Israeli politics.
All this and burning sh*t for Shimon bar Yochai, a century of Jews on the ball, and Idan Reichel’s McFerrin Project!
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