Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Other Election Circus

Sunday, 02 November 2008 Khaled Amayreh

Jewish kidsJewish kids taught how to murder Arabs

The "Jewish lobby" scuttles yet another political leader

With Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni abandoning her efforts to form a narrow-based coalition government, America's outpost in the Middle East is also experiencing election fever due to machinations of Zionist extremists.

Livni's representatives had been conducting exhaustive negotiations with the ultra-orthodox Shas Party in an effort to include the fanatical but influential group into what would have been a coalition government, but to no avail.

Shas leaders insisted that hundreds of millions of dollars be allocated to subsidise families with multiple children, i.e., their ultraorthodox Jewish flock, as a precondition for joining the government. Shas also demanded that the government refrain from making Jerusalem a subject for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Olmert, Livni and Barak during a Knesset session

Eventually, the negotiations between Kadima, Livni's party, and Shas imploded. For her part, Livni called Shas' demands "clear extortion", arguing that she didn't and wouldn't sacrifice the country's economic interests in order to bribe a "rapacous" political party.

Shas leaders, incensed by Livni's remarks, retorted by accusing the Livni camp of being "phony, racist and arrogant." Racist, because Livni and her Kadima Party are overwhelmingly Ashkenazi or European, while Shas represents Jews originating from the Muslim world.

"If he who helps ailing children is called extortionist, then I am an extortionist," whined Eli Yeshai, Shas' leading politician, who normally reports to the group's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Following the collapse of the Kadima- Shas talks, and Livni's truly racist refusal to contact Israeli Arab parties for possible inclusion into her would-be government, Israeli President Shimon Peres told the Knesset this week that elections would be held in Israel in order to safeguard the vital interest of the Jewish state.

Peres urged politicians and political parties to do some soul-searching and not be too feverish about the elections. However, instead of soul-searching, a torrent of electioneering-oriented speeches and statements by various politicians gave a foretaste of an election that is likely to be frantic and quite polarising.

Inaugurating the election season, the PR-minded Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu made a volley of fiery statements intended to woo potential voters to his vote for his party. Speaking at the opening of the Knesset winter session Monday, 27 October, Netanyahu vowed that under his leadership Israel wouldn't negotiate over Jerusalem, would keep the vast bulk of the West Bank as part of Israel and under no circumstances would allow Palestinian refugees uprooted from their ancestral homeland to return to their homes.

Playing the "smart guy's part" Netanyahu said that instead of a "territorial peace" Israel should push towards an "economic peace" whereby Palestinians would settle for economic prosperity and a certain degree of self-rule under perpetual Israeli domination.

Should he become Israel's next prime minister, which is a strong possibility, Netanyahu said Israel would retain the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the vast part of the West Bank. In other words, he would bury the peace process once and for all.

Netanyahu's extremist remarks provoked Arab Knesset member Ahmed Teibi, who interrupted the leader of the Likud, saying, "we have tried you as a prime minister, and you were a total failure." The exchange prompted Knesset speaker Dalia Itsek to joke afterwards that the motto of the election campaign should be "Bibi or Teibi". Another Knesset member added "or Tzipi."

The upcoming elections are likely to take place in the first half of February. According to Israeli law, the country should go to the polls no more than 90 days after the dissolution of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. The Israeli media have quoted "well-informed" government sources as saying that the dissolution of the Knesset is likely to take place in the middle of next week.

According to the latest opinion polls, Livni's party, Kadima, was projected to win 31 seats while Netanyahu's Likud shown wining 29 seats of the Knesset's 120 contested seats. The polls, conducted by presumably reliable pollsters, also showed the Labour Party, which now holds 19 seats, wining no more than 11 seats if elections were to be held now.

This is certainly bad news for Labour Party Chief Ehud Barak who, too, was eager to sell an increasingly effete party to a disillusioned electorate that is constantly drifting towards either religious fascism or right-wing jingoism. Barak might try to redeem some of his party's reputation by echoing wornout slogans about the Labour Party being the party of the poor. He might also try to score some points against Netanyahu's Likud by capitaliaing on the blemishes of greedy capitalism as evident from the worldwide financial crisis which is already impacting the poorer strata of Israeli society. The Labour Party is widely dismissed as having outlived its usefulness as the party of the old and the aging.

It looks like the right-wing camp, with its secular and religious wings, has the edge. This could mean bad news for the Palestinians in general and the "peace process" since a government whose premier is Benyamin Netanyahu would be very parsimonious in terms of the occupied territories it is willing to cede, whether in the West Bank or in the Golan Heights.

Al-Ahram Weekly asked veteran Israeli journalist Roni Shakaid if he thought the post-election Israeli government would be "bad news for peace with the Palestinians." "I am afraid it will be. The very least I can say is that the ethos of the conflict with the Palestinians will remain unchanged. In other words, if the overall situation doesn't get worse, it won't get better."

This week, Fatah leader and leading PA peace negotiator Ahmed Qurei said he hoped Livni would be Israel's next prime minister. While his hopes may be well-placed and shared by many, it is highly doubtful that Livni stands to gain much from an Arab appearing to publicly supporting her. One Israeli commentator pointed out that Qurei's remarks "will eventually be perceived as a liability, not an asset, for Livni."

Israeli Jewish society is too racist and too anti-Arab even to tolerate a mayor who is supported by Arabs, let alone a would-be prime minister. Indeed, Livni's refusal to contact any of Israel's Arab parties during her ill- fated efforts to form a coalition government testifies to the real situation in the Jewish state.

Source: Al-Ahram Weekly

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