Monday, February 16th, 2009
James Besser in Washington
Just catching up with the blogs after a few days away from the keyboard, and found some good reading waiting for me.
Lots of interesting commentary on last week’s Israeli election, which settled nothing except for the fact there will now be weeks, maybe months, of jockeying, horse trading and mind-bending spin.
Check out blogger Shumuel Rosner’s take on those issues in his Commentary blog. The veteran analyst has some good points about the recent Israeli election and the inconclusive results, including this one:
Avoid the news from Israel for a couple of days. If history teaches us anything, it’s that the first days of coalition building are a waste of time. Everything is spin, manipulation and positioning.
He goes on:
Don’t buy the smiling faces of Netanyahu and the leaders of right wing parties that he is now courting. Sitting with them in a coalition — in which they will have the final say — is Netanyahu’s worst nightmare. He thinks some of them are real nut cases, and knows that they will surely bring about his demise.
Jeffrey Goldberg, the veteran journalist who now hangs his hat at The Atlantic, blogs that should prepare itself for the possibility of Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister.
And he makes this observation, which might qualify as understatement:
The Arab world doesn’t have enough democracy; Israel has too much. Israel’s is an insane system, which gives every lunatic fringe party disproportionate say in the running of the country, and therefore encourages radicalism.
Finally, Dan Sieradski riffs on Lieberman’s rise in Jewcy.
He asks: what will happen to pro-Israel advocacy “when a prominent Israeli politician pursues proposed policies that would explicitly disenfranchise Israel’s Arab minority or even eliminate its very presence from the state all together?”
Here’s a clue; the answer isn’t good.
Yisrael Beiteinu’s third-place finish in the election shows that “ Lieberman’s ideas are gaining traction among a war and peace process weary Israeli electorate hungry for new ideas that adequately address Israel’s oldest challenge: maintaining both the Jewish and democratic character of the state,” he writes.
The results, according to an Israeli official he quotes, could be a “hasbara disaster.”
(See the Jewish Week story on the Lieberman factor here)
Finally, Daniel Levy, director of the Prospects for Peace Initiative of the Century Foundation, says a right-wing coalition in Israel won’t necessarily spell doom for any Obama-initiated peace process.
The real challenge for the new administration here, he writes, is how to tailor its promised Mideast peace push to the political realities that the next Israeli government will face.
“A sincere good-will effort should be made with Israel’s next prime minister, particularly if it is Mr. Netanyahu, to propose an eminently reasonably plan for Israel’s future peace and security that is also predicated on ending the occupation,” he said.
The vote may have produced an electoral muddle, but it could prove a “clarifying moment” for Israel, according to Levy.
Read Levy’s blog here.