by Shalom Pollack
It is Election Season in Israel . . . again
I find it less productive to examine the myriad of politicians' and talking heads verbiage. I prefer a zoom out on the over all situation, background and trends, to the daily firestorm and the accusing fingers vying for our attention.
The Israeli political system is unitary proportional representation , which means that if a list can garner a minimum number of votes from through out the country (3.25%) they will win at least four seats in the Knesset. Less than that, the votes are not counted. After the election, the one party with the most committed support of other parties, is asked by the president to form a ruling coalition government.
Israelis do not have the considerable power that American voters do over their regional representatives in Congress. Israeli politicians are chosen by a party mechanism or boss and thus the MK is dependent upon the support of his party far more than he is the citizens to whom he directs his election promises. Promises made are "not always kept". Often times major policy promises are about faced (Yamit, Oslo, Gush Katif...) with little concern for voter disappointment. If the party boss is satisfied with "his"MK, his "seat" is insured.
In Israel there are a large number of parties spanning the political/religious/ethnic spectrum.
This allows a wide range of representation and input into the political process. Today, the third largest party is the "combined (Arab) list”. It is the clearest representation of Arab sentiment in Israel today.
What exactly are these sentiments?
With out going into historic and recent details of words and actions, suffice it to say that their positions are far closer to the aspirations and actions of Israel's enemies than to Israel itself. Official Israel ( proudly) claims that this is the "price of democracy".
This establishment have always quietly believed that while grandstanding granting the Arabs (theoretical) road to influence the politics of Israel, they will never have the parliamentary strength to do so and will always remain on the margins of decision making if at all; so the game goes on. Traditionally, it has been the position of the political class, including the Left, that indeed it would be a great danger to the Jewish state if the Arabs ever really did posses that power. Indeed. it was embarrassing when they were secretly caught making political deals with Arab Mks.
That seems like a a long time ago. What was once considered not patriotic is deemed by many today as "progressive" ; including partnering with anti-Israel Arabs in the Knesset and beyond. Today, many Left Israelis long for a country "of all its citizens" – a vastly superior and moral situation to just a plain out moded "Jewish" state. Arab political influence is no longer a threat to the Jewish state. Indeed it is a way out of the Jewish state.
The vast majority of Jews in Israel are not that "progressive" and vote for Right wing parties. With out the support of the Arabs in the Knesset, the Left can no longer hope to form a government. The Arabs are openly courted by the Left minority today, a fact that leverages their power many times. Can this alliance actually result in a government; one in which the anti-Israel Arabs call the shots either from within or by simply supporting a minority gov't from with out?
With out the Arab votes added to the Left, there could not have been the Oslo or Gush Katif crimes. Arab parliamentary power has been tried and has already been successful in determining the fate of the Land of Israel and of countless Jews.
Lieberman (a Russian immigrant) of "Israel Beytenu" leads a party of mostly Russian immigrants who are Right politically. In the last two elections, he has decided to wield those votes (eight seats) to stop the formation of a Right government because of personal animosity to Netanyahu and a desire to play the role of king maker between the Left/Arabs and the Right/religious.
This is the reason that Israelis will be going to the polls for the third time within a year.
Having observed the above, the following should be considered:
- 1- A congressional type of election of representatives ensuring responsibility to the voter and not to party bosses.
- 2 - It is clearly counter intuitive and indeed suicidal for the future of a Jewish state to allow tit's future to be decided by Arabs.
- 3- Educating Israeli Jewish children about why being Jewish and living in a Jewish state is a great privilege and well worth preserving.