Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


Chuck Hagel and Fringe Disappointment

Yesterday after much Republican grandstanding, chest thumping and generally wasting everyone’s time, Former Senator Chuck Hagel was voted through the Senate as Secretary of Defense. Immediately the fringe blogosphere went nuts.

We saw commentary from the fringe right like this:

And now, due to American Jewish progressive-left ideological blindness, we have the first openly anti-Semitic Secretary of Defense in modern times; a man who favors Iran and Hamas and Hezbollah over the Jews in the Middle East.

or like this:

Hagel is a whore for sale to the highest Arab and Persian bidder. Always has been. He’s a narcissist who’d rather be hated than ignored. And of course he’s that perfect mix of stupid leftist progressive and right wing Pat Buchanan racist.

and from the Fringe Left we get this:

Hagel now stands in the place of George Marshall, except that where Truman’s Secretary of State warned of fanaticism, now fanaticism has become internal to the US government as well as spreading over the Middle Eastern zones of the empire. Obama, freed from Truman’s burden of facing election, is also free to settle scores, including with his nemesis, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who was dumb enough to have blatantly favored Mitt Romney for President-or was he rewarding the Republican for reaching new depths of servility when Romney pledged that on any matter involving Israel, he would phone Netanyahu and do whatever the PM told him to?

Now, personally I am not a big fan of Chuck Hagel, in this article, I explained that in my opinion Chuck Hagel won’t really affect anything with regards to Israel or the Jewish People. My objection to Hagel comes from the fact that the President felt he needed to push a Conservative Republican into a fairly high level post when there were plenty of liberal Democrats (Joe Sestak, Jim Webb, Bob Kerrey, Wesley Clark, Michele Flournoy, to name a few) that were well qualified. As a Democrat, I didn’t vote to see a person who had complained about the “Jewish Lobby” or who had made very problematic statements regarding the LGBT community, or who had an overall extremely conservative voting record, placed into high office in a Democratic Presidency.

The fact of the matter (to be blunt) is that the fringes on both sides will be very disappointed. Hagel is not going to commence the bombing of Israel today, tomorrow, or any other day. U.S. policy towards Israel is what it is, and this President has committed us in both words and action to higher levels of security coordination with Israel than ever before. Whether he wants to or not, (and frankly I don’t think he cares), Hagel is not going to, and doesn’t have the power to change that. That is a policy decision made by the President. The Secretary of Defense doesn’t get to make that policy. All he (or she) would get to do is carry out the orders of the President.

If one looks at Hagels record with regards to voting on issues concerning Israel, Hagel’s record is certainly not indicative that he will be either the masked avenger on the Jews that the Hard Left wants, or that he will be ready to start shipping arms to Hamas next week like the Lunatic Right Fringe wants. In fact Hagel’s voting record on Israel is pretty much standard fare for most American politicians.

Here are the actual facts regarding Sen. Hagels voting record  Some of which include:

* As a United States Senator, Chuck Hagel voted time and time again to provide $37.8 billion dollars of military and security assistance for Israel.

* Hagel cosponsored resolutions with Sen. Dianne Feinstein including “commitment[s] to a true and lasting solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of two states, living side by side in peace and security and with recognized borders” and calls on “Hamas… to recognize the State of Israel’s right to exist.”

* Chuck Hagel voted in favor of the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 19984, the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 20005, and the Iran Freedom Support Act of 20066. He is skeptical of unilateral sanctions, but supports multilateral sanctions which we have seen, in concert with allies, put tremendeous pressure on Iran

But… that doesn’t really matter. The overriding fact is that the Secretary of Defense simply does not make policy regarding our alliances or support for foreign nations or groups. That is the White House in conjunction with State. Hagel as Sec. Def. has to do what Pres. Obama tells him to do, and any policy decisions have to clear the White House. Simple fact.

Frankly, (and again I don’t particularly support the choice of Hagel not that it matters now but….) is that Hagel was brought in to do two things and two things only. The first is to stand up for U.S. veterans and their rights. Hagel has done a good job of that throughout his career. The second is that the Pentagon is going to be and frankly needs to be cut to help with budget concerns. Hagel is a reasonable choice for that job. Hagel is not the Secretary of Defense for Israel, nor is he the Sec. Def. for only the Jewish People. Some people really need to understand that.Hagel IS  the Sec. Def. of all American People and as such he is responsible to the entire nation, not just one part of it.

OH and is Hagel the “worstest, most ebilz, Sec. of State ever for Israel”, I think not.

How about Harry S. Truman’s Sec. Def. James Forrestal who urged President to Truman to reject Partition in 1947 because it might “infuriate” the Arabs and then saying that Jews were too influential in pressing the American Gov’t. Remind me again how that stopped the U.S. from voting for Partition.

Or what about Casper Weinberger of President Reagan’s admin. You know, the REPUBLICAN administration where the President actually went to present honors on German SS unit graves, that administration. Here is a little something about Weinberger:

In contrast to other members of the Reagan cabinet known for their sympathy toward the Jewish state, including Secretary of State George Shultz and the president himself, Weinberger developed a reputation not only for opposing Israel’s interests directly but for seeking to prevent any action, including counter-terrorist operations, that might upset Arab allies of the United States (vb1 emphasis).  Until the Iran-Contra scandal broke in 1986, Weinberger was perhaps best known for orchestrating the sale of AWACS jets – the highly advanced airborne surveillance, command, and control system built by Boeing – to Saudi Arabia. Opposed by Israel and much of the American Jewish community, the Saudi AWACS deal generated enormous controversy.

So, I am not sure how we can really take the fringe seriously on either side as to their objections regarding Hagel.

Either way, he was not my pick but now that he is in office, I say we judge him by what he actually does, NOT by what we think he may or may not do. Either way, the fanatics are going to be bummed out because their shrill cries (in support of or against) that he will be bombing Israel or sending gift baskets to open up our friendship with Hamas and Hizbollah simply won’t come true and really have no basis in fact. As I said previously, Hagel’s job is to watch over the U.S. Military in time when we will be paring it down and have a great deal of soldiers coming home from war.

How he does that will tell us what kind of American Secretary of Defense he will be.  

Why the Two State Solution is the ONLY solution

Cross posted at the Progressive Zionist (

Or better titled… when the “CW” (Conventional Wisdom) gets it completely wrong.

Everyone is spouting that the Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is either dead or dying, but frankly I see it getting stronger and stronger. I honestly do. I just can’t see how a One State Solution can ever happen. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t see a Two State Solution along any of the lines that have been previously discussed, NOR do I see a Two State Solution along the lines that either side’s hard Rightist wings would find acceptable, BUT I do think it is the only realistic possible outcome.

We keep hearing how Israeli annexation is dooming the Two State Solution. We keep hearing how Hamas’ rocket fire and insistence on destroying Israel is dooming the Two State Solution but all of it, and I mean all of it is complete nonsense (or as I learned in Hebrew – “Shtuyoat” – stupidity). Why?

Well let’s look at the arguments and take them out to their logical conclusions. First let’s take the argument that Israeli settlements stand in the way of the Two State Solutions. Ok… I can see why someone would say that. I mean Israeli settlements are popping up in parts of the West Bank that are fairly remote and even though these settlements are technically illegal and the Government looks the other way, they are also fairly non-sustainable. It is pretty obvious that these settlements are meant to create “facts on the ground” and make sure that there is no acceptable (to the Palestinians) way to reach a Two State Solution. SO… let’s say that these settlements are allowed to continue to pop up here and there creating little “facts on the ground” at some point Israel will be faced with a choice – annex the West Bank or annex the territory just around those settlements… OR turn that territory over to the Palestinians and let the settlers fend for themselves (which is something NO Jewish P.M. could ever, ever do).

IF Israel annexes the West Bank they run into a major problem. Demographics. All of a sudden Israel inherits approx. 2.6 million Palestinians. That is a lot of Palestinians for Israel to absorb as citizens. That would place considerable strain on social services not too mention the IDF who would now have to constantly patrol areas of the country that had absolute hostility to the central government. Oh, and not too mention that these new citizens would vote and soon enough would comprise part of an Arab majority inside of Israels borders. That would be in effect the end of Israel as we know it.

So what do those who favor annexation advocate… well there are three options that they support. These are:

1. Annexing the West Bank and keeping the Arabs as “not quite citizens”. In other words, disenfranchising around 22% of the population of the State. I would think the downside of this is obvious. It would immediately cause either revolution or intense civil unrest. Oh and I can’t imagine any other nation supporting Israel in this venture. Not even the U.S. would support this. In this case Israel’s internal budget which is already stressed would be further pushed by having to support continued military operations throughout Palestinian Populated areas for an indefinite amount of time. It would become simply unsustainable.

And then let’s look at the effect on morale in the IDF. Israel is a fairly progressive society in certain ways. For the IDF to take on the role of Oppressors to 22% of their nation, that would completely destroy Israeli secular society and turn the country into something far, far worse. The IDF would cease to be a defensive force and would transform into a police force and Israel into a police State, because I cannot imagine that the majority of Israeli Arabs would put up with this in their nation for one moment.

2. Another option is the Bennett Plan, where Israel Annexes Area C and maintains Areas A & B as autonomous provinces. Again, where will Israel get the international support for something like this? How will it budget for this? What role will the IDF take in maintaining calm should the PA simply say, “Screw you – handle security yourselves”. Remember, the world voted to recognize Palestine as a State, and while the World community may be inept in many cases becoming a State like North Korea (but without a large nation to support it, because no way the U.S. goes a long with this) is not something that is realistic for Israel to do.

The problem with the Bennett plan (aside from the obvious denials of Palestinian Right to Self Determination) simply is unworkable. The Palestinians would never accept this and would actively contest it. Unless Israel would be willing to “go Kahane” on the Arabs (which would then start a major regional war) there is no way that the Israelis could permanently maintain this situation. Sure the status quo is holding but, only because the Palestinians in the West Bank have chosen non violent resistance (by and large but not in every case). What happens when they go into full revolt? And what happens when that is seen as justified by the World community including both the U.S. and E.U.

3. Of course the third option is to simply ethnically cleanse the Arab Population from the West Bank. That would certainly solve a couple of the problems of maintaining an Occupation. Of course, perhaps those proponents of this solution should ask the Serbs how that worked for them. Not too mention that the Israelis would face full on revolt from 20% of it’s population along with continued attacks from pretty much every surrounding Arab Nation. Hell, if they tried that even the E.U. would probably send forces or at least major support to the Arabs.

And what of those morons who say… “Well Israel can go it alone”…. Really? You think Israel can stand against the rest of the world including the U.S. and E.U. Some moron once said “Well let’s tell the Americans we are on our own and that we will get other allies”. Who the fuck are they going to get? The Russians? The Russians are in bed with everyone but the Israelis. The Chinese? The Chinese are sucking at the Arab Teat for the worlds remaining Oil Supplies. Are they seriously maintaining that Israel could actually go “North Korea” (who is propped up only through the largesse of they Chinese).

So there really is no other option for Israel – IF Israel actually wants to survive.

At the same time… The Palestinians have absolutely ZERO options if they want a Single State. By going to the U.N. all they did was codify the Two State Solution. The Russians and Chinese may dislike Israel but they are not going to actively work to help radical jihadists and Mullahs in Iran realize their dream of wiping out a recognized State. PLUS the U.S. and Western Europeans would never allow it.

As for those on the Israeli and Palestinian Left that advocate the “Palestinian One State Solution”. NO ONE on their side, but, NO ONE takes them seriously. In the latest poll of Palestinians only 22% supported a One State Solution where Jews and Arabs lived side by side. I mean, nobody, not Israelis not Palestinians wants a One State Solution. It is freakin’ ridiculous that this theory is even given a second thought.

At some point, everyone is going to come to a reason that Israelis and Palestinians simply can’t live in the same nation under a One State flag. Both sides (rightly so) want their own “homelands”. Of course I support the fact that Jews should be able to live in Palestine, and that Arabs should be able to live in Israel as full and equal citizens with the caveat that people remember that Israel is the National Homeland and State of the Jewish People, and Palestine would be the State and National Homeland of the Palestinian People.

There simply is no other way the situation can continue to exist without either a major revolution or war breaking out there. At some point the “dam will burst” and when it does, there won’t be much left to piece together. So whether it through Israeli Unilateralism (because we already have the theoretical establishment of Palestine through Palestinian unilateralism), or a world effort to quell violence in the region this is what is going to happen. And even if war does breakout, this is what will be imposed whether both sides like it or not because neither side can take on the West, or the combined efforts of the Russians and Chinese. And at some point the major players WILL take care to see a solution imposed on the region.

I am just telling you what I think is real and what will play out in macro terms. If you see it playing out differently, please let me know how you see that. I would be curious to see what others think.  

New Elections for Israel?

Cross Posted at The Progressive Zionist ( and check out my related blog at the Times of Israel…

As the coalition building process wears on, a few things become obvious.

The first is that Tzipi Livni and HaTanuah have effectively counted themselves out of Israeli politics should there ever be new elections. Her racing to join Likud in coalition in return for the Justice Ministry (and the ceremonial Head of Negotiations with Palestinians team) plus the Environmental Portfolio AND the Head of the Knesset House Committee and willingness to toss away all of her pre-election promises renders her irrelevant.

Sure, she could have argued that at least moderate forces got those ministries (particularly Justice and the Environment) which might otherwise fall into the hands of Rightist “hacks” determined to follow Likud’s hoped for economic policy patterned on Republican Randian Economics, but, that is easily disputed as seen by Likud-Betainu’s protests about her impinging on “Rightist Legislation” (to quote Likud MK Ofir Akunis). Not too mention that her party is already struggling due to communication issues within the party (According to Haaretz):

During the meeting, Livni told those present that contrary to reports in the media, she has not yet decided Hatnuah’s second minister. She also told the MKs that she and Netanyahu had not yet agreed on which committee would be given to her faction or which Knesset member would be its chairperson.

Not all of Hatnuah’s MKs were pleased with Livni’s actions in signing the coalition agreement.

“Livni didn’t tell the Knesset members in advance that she had reached agreements with Netanyahu,” a party official said, “and she told the media she had signed before the members knew about it.  

“The way Amram Mitzna was treated won’t go by quietly, either,” he added. “The fact that Amir Peretz behaves in this party as if it were his own, making Livni break an earlier agreement she had with Mitzna, is wrong. Mitzna should be the next minister from the party.” As soon as the meeting was over, Livni held a private meeting with Mitzna on the matter.

The next thing we know is that either to join the government, either Yesh Atid or Habayit HaYehudi (particularly HaBayit HaYehudi) is going to have radically change at least part of their core platform principle. For instance, Jewish Home is committed to Annexing Area C of the West Bank and then keeping Areas A & B, as “Autonomous areas” linked through new high speed roads. Of course, while this goes along great with the new Rightist Likud it doesn’t jive with the Prime Ministers very public statement reiterating his Bar-Ilan speech, which commits him to Two States, nor does it fit with the new coalition agreement that PM Netanyahu signed with HaTanuah and Tzipi Livni. As Naftali Bennett (Head of HaBayit HaYehudi) said (Again according to Haaretz):

“We’ve come to serve the nation in any fashion, from the coalition or the opposition,” Bennett told a meeting of his party’s convention in Jerusalem on Wednesday. “The only question is what this government’s path will be: buying political time, or truly coping with fundamental problems? If the new government is interested in tackling the nation of Israel’s real problems, we’re in. But if the goal is to buy more time, we won’t be. And that’s not a disaster.”

Regarding Livni, he said that he’s “not interested” in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or any of the other PA officials who might negotiate with her. “What interests me is the nation of Israel – not Abu Mazen [Abbas], Abu Ala [Ahmed Qureia] or who knows who else will sit with Livni,” he said. “They’re not interesting. We’re at a historic crossroads, and the ball is in the prime minister’s court: Will we hold onto the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, or will we entrust the negotiations to someone who has already offered to divide the city of Jerusalem and conceded [the West Bank settlement bloc of Ariel?”

But also both parties Yesh Atid AND Jewish Home are even at odds with their own proposals on how to handle the Occupation and are only united in a desire to see some form of National Service happen. Of course then this precludes the joining of Shas and UTJ, unless Likud can work out some kind of compromise.

Now Likud has tried and drafted up a new compromise plan. However, BOTH Yesh Atid and Habayit HaYehudi have rejected that plan (according to Haaretz)stating:

The plan, proposed by the head of Netanyahu’s National Economic Council, Prof. Eugene Kandel, sets a goal of drafting 60 percent of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox ) men aged 18 to 24 within five years. But critics say it lacks teeth.

Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi had previously announced that they oppose the plan, and on Wednesday they were joined by Kadima. At a meeting with Netanyahu, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said he couldn’t join a government whose proposal on the Haredi draft issue was akin to the one over which he quit Netanyahu’s second government last summer.

Moreover, most of Hatnuah – the one party with which Netanyahu has so far signed a coalition agreement – is also expected to oppose the plan.

Thus if all these parties stand firm, Netanyahu will have trouble forming a coalition without agreeing to significantly tougher measures to get Haredi men into the army. Currently, 33 MKs – from Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi and Kadima – have broadly agreed on the outlines of a much tougher plan than Kandel’s. The Kandel plan is so far supported only by Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu’s 31 MKs.

Well then, what’s on the horizon? Right now the Likud Betainu coalition has 37 MK’s. 31 from Likud-Betainu and 6 from HaTanuah. Even with both Haredi parties the best they can get to is 55 (11 from Shas and 7 from UTJ). To get there they would need either Labor, Yesh Atid, HaBayit HaYehudi, Meretz OR the Arab Parties to join the coalition. One can pretty much count out the Arab Parties and Meretz. That leaves Labor. There is no way that this would be a workable coalition longer than 6 months. There are just too many differences between the players.

Oh, and here is one other thing. The Knesset Channel just did a poll (Reported in the Times of Israel) of the Israeli electorate. Apparently IF there were new elections (still an unlikely possibility). Yesh Atid  would become the new leading party with 30 seats, Likud would drop to 22 Seats, HaBayit HaYehudi would go up to 15 seats, and Labor would drop to 13 seats. G-d only knows what would happen to HaTanuah… I would bet their people go to Yesh Atid along with Mofaz’ two seats.

Of course there would still be a mess in this case as well but now it would be on Yair Lapid to try to form a coalition and not Benjamin Netanyahu. Given Lapid’s ego (remember, he stated that HE would be Prime Minister within 18 months), and political ambitions the news of this poll has to make him and Naftali Bennett sit up and take notice.

Will there be new elections? No one knows, but, whatever happens we are going to see some defining moments for the Israeli polity in the next few months.  

Mr. Obama and the Belagan.

Here is the word of the day: Belagan:

Noun 1. balagan – a word for chaos or fiasco borrowed from modern Hebrew (where it is a loan word from Russian); “it was utter and complete balagan!”

What is one of the most difficult intellectual endeavors on the Planet? Trying to figure out the politics of the Middle East. Nothing but nothing about this area is clear and nothing but nothing about this area makes a ton of sense. Into this fray – the President Obama steps. Living up to a campaign promise made during his first term the President will be heading to the Middle East to visit both the Israelis and Palestinian leadership (well the P.A. part of it)

Of course, in typical fashion for anything in the Middle East, nothing about this visit seems to make sense. One side (the Americans) state that the visit is for the President to “strengthen the bonds between Israel and the U.S.”, One side (the Palestinians) are insisting that the U.S. visit be used to “pressure” the Israelis into halting the settlement process and force the Israelis to negotiate with him for a State and finally One side (the Israelis), are saying that that the President is both coming with a plan and a proposal for a summit between the Israelis and Palestinians AND Not coming with anything (is this a surprise to anyone?)

A Fun Exercise in Foreign Policy

Over the last month we have discussed the Israeli Election and now that it has come and gone we eventually will at least have one diary on the results.

I am a junkie for “Political Compass” type tests. I think I know myself but I like to know where I stand. SO…

In emailing with a friend he told me that he took a poll at the Israeli Democracy Institute’s website regarding Political Compass in Israel.

What happens, is that they ask a number of questions regarding your political thoughts and then place you on a grid to give you an idea where you stand. Now, for a couple of years I have always thought of myself as a Left Center type guy with tendencies towards social justice and/liberty. In commentary, I always said that I fit with either Avodah (Labor) and HaTanuah (Tzipi Livni’s Party), SO… when my friend mentioned this to me I decided to take the poll and see where I came out.

Surprise of Suprise, there were seven parties in my range. The closest was HaTanuah, and AmShalem (this surprised me at first until I read up on them – but they didn’t cross the electoral threshold so…) and then I was right in between Avodah (Labor), Yesh Atid, and Kadima.  On the outskirts was UTJ and Tal (an Arab Party).

The furthest party from me (and I am proud to say this) was Otzma L’Yisrael (Strong Israel – a fascist party that did not cross the threshold), Yisrael Beitanu, HaBayit HaYehudi, and Hadash. And then at about equal distances out of my zone,Meretz, Likud, Shas, Balad,

Needless to say I was pretty proud of this because this is kind of where I thought I would land. I am no radical leftist though I lean left, and I for sure am no Rightist. It was nice to see that confirmed. So pretty much I guess this dispells the nonsense over at Daily Kos about me being a Rightist. Where one Celtic Merlin had this to say:

“Lately – over about the last 12 to 15 months – he has moved more and more in line with Israeli hard-liners”

Whoops… Oh well facts are always pesky things.

Anyway, take the Compass test and see where you come up. You might be surprised (or not) and honestly you will learn something.

Anyway, here is the link to the test: 2013  Israeli Election Compass ( – Where do you fit in… Please let us know as well as your thoughts on that.  

Racism and reproductive rights in Israel


Echoing the history of sterilization of African American, Native American and Puerto Rican women, which included testing toxic birth control dosages on women in PR, the latest reproductive rights outrage is taking place in Israel, where it has been disclosed that Ethiopian Jewish women (members of the Beta Israel) have been given Depo-Provera without informed consent.

East is West: Reflections on Electoral Ironies by an Unrepresentative Israeli Voter

When I try to encapsulate the extent of the absurdity that animates Israeli politics, I point out how the Israeli electorate divides on the subject of Jerusalem.  A majority opposes any division of Israel’s “eternal capital.”  Most of these folks support the construction of a concrete wall that cuts off neighborhoods of Arab/Palestinian East Jerusalem.  A smaller constituency is ready and willing to divide Jerusalem so that its eastern sectors will be administered by Palestinians, and where they will locate the capital of their state.  These folks generally support the activists who protest the concrete wall and want it torn down.  Those who want the city unified support a bisecting wall.  Those advocating division want it torn down.  

Israeli Elections in a Nutshell – the top three players……

Hi Moose folks… I hope you all don’t mind an informative diary on the Israeli Elections. This is in no way meant to start any kind of “Pie Fight” and it is a non-advocacy diary.

As a disclaimer… I am an American Jewish Democratic Activist (some of you know me from Daily Kos) who does a fair amount of writing on Israel (and a rational approach to the Second Amendment). Personally, (though from an outsiders view), I support the Main Israeli Opposition parties of Labor (Avodah) and The Movement (HaTanuah), so some of that may seep through, though I will try to be as non-partisan as possible… So… Here goes:

First up the largest party and current coalition heads are Likud-Yisrael Betainu (Likud = “Coalition”, Yisrael Betainu = “Israel Our Home”). Currently this party (which just combined) holds 43 seats (out of 120) in the current government. Their leaders are PM Benyamin Netanyahu and Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman. Their orientation is Rightist. Economically they are very much Capitalist with similarities to the “Romney wing” of the Republican Party. During the Netanyahu administration, social services and other aspects of public life have suffered having been underfunded or auctioned off to private concerns. Last year’s “J14” social protests (which “Occupy” mirrored in many respects) came as a result of these policies.

On the foreign policy front, Likud-Betainu has no clear or coherent policy. The party just took a rightward lurch in their last primaries and YESHA (Settlement Authorities) Representatives gained while the moderate wing was “exorcised”. Some in Likud such as Netanyahu or Lieberman favor a modified Two State solution with Israel settling on borders that take up 50-60% of the West Bank, security zones in the Jordan River Valley and a concrete presence around Jerusalem and Hebron.

However, the Rightist wing of the party led by Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon want nothing to do with that and are stressing that the only two State solution there is, is Israel from the Med to the Jordan, and the Palestinian State as Jordan itself.

Needless to say, the party refuses to actually articulate any kind of plan other than to blame everyone but themselves for any of Israel’s problems. Even so, even though they are not particularly well liked, they are seen by the Israeli Public as being strong on defense and a party that will keep Israel safe.

The party is polling as losing 6-8 seats from their 43. Still, they will most likely be the largest party in Israel and will have the first shot at forming the new government.

The second largest party is the Opposition Labor Party (Avodah). Their leader is ex-journalist and Social Activist Shelly Yachimovich. Labor once was THE major force in Israeli politics but since then has gone downhill due to a series of corrupt and frankly incompetent leaders. In the 2009 election, Labor got on 13 seats and then further splintered into two groups and currently only hold eight seats in the Knesset. Since, Yachimovich has come in though, Avodah is back up with a projected seat total of 16-20 seats.

Their economic policy is Socialist to Social Democratic in nature. They are heavily tied to the Unions and the Social Justice movement. Their orientation is to support European style movements. Yachimovich’s main achievements are mostly centered around women’s and workers issues and she has been very effective in this area.

Their big failures have been two-fold. First, they have no foreign policy to speak of. They pay lip service to dealing with the Occupation, and aside from some muttering about making a deal on the 1967 borders (with swaps) really don’t take much of a stand on this issue (or haven’t until very, very recently). It should also be noted that when the time came, Yachimovich voted to maintain the settlement budget, though she says she would cut it at this point.

Their second problem is that they can’t seem to decide who they really are. They keep running away from the “Leftist” tag and call themselves “moderates”, and have really tried to distance themselves from what they call “Leftist” movements. They are trying in effect to re-brand as a Centrist Party.

Next up we have what I consider to be a truly dangerous player Habayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home). This party led by ex-Special Forces Major Naftali Bennett is a combination of the old National Religious Party (re-branded to Jewish Home) and virulent Rightist party National Union. Currently they hold 5 seats in the Knesset (they lost two to the Fascist/Kahanist Otzma Yisrael (Strong Israel) party. They are projected to emerge from this as the third largest party in the Knesset with anywhere from 13-17 seats.

Their economics are a populist mix of social capitalism with a healthy dose of religious nationalism. BUT, what they are running on is a message that they want to join in a Likud government to make sure that it indeed moves to the Hard Right.

Their foreign policy dominates their platform. In simple terms, they simply want make the Occupation permanent. They propose the following situation. They want to take 61% of the West Bank (where 100% of the Jews and 4% of the Palestinians live) and formally annex it to Israel. They would offer the Palestinians there full rights as Israeli Citizens (Bennett claims it would be 50,000 – 100,000 Palestinians). He then wants to take the rest of the West Bank and turn it into an Autonomous Palestinian area. The people in this area would have their own elected leaders, and state authorities but would still have to answer to Israel in all issues. The people in the autonomous areas would have no votes or rights as Israeli citizens.

Further their areas Bennett proposes that their areas would be connected through a series of modern high speed roads that would be only open to the Palestinians and Israeli Defense Forces (this paid for by Israel). Where he would get the money to pay for this… he does not say. BUT, this is his goal.

Rather than go any more partisan here because as I write about this, I realize how extremely stupid this plan is… I will leave it to you… dear readers to comment.

If you all would like, I can add perspectives on the next four parties: Shas (a Sephardic Religious Party led by Ariyeh Deri expected to capture 10-12 seats), Yesh Atid (A Secular Centrist party led by T.V. Personality expected to capture 8-12 seats), HaTanuah (A secular Centrist party led by former Foreign Minister and Kadima head Tzipi Livni expected to capture 8-12 seats) and United Torah Judaism (a religious Ashkenazi Party expected to take 5 to 6 seats).

Please let me know.

As a personal note, I look forward to participating at the Moose and with (what I can see) the eminently reasonable folks here.  

Anti-migrant mobs in Israel incited by Likud MKs


I rarely write anything about Israel. Nor do I get involved in I/P debates. That does not mean I have no interest in that part of the world-I simply spend most of my international focus elsewhere. But for many years I have followed the fate of Ethiopian Jews in Israel. So when I stumbled across a mention of Eritreans in Israel in a stray headline, I was curious, and followed up. One link led to another-almost all of them  either in The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, British or Canadian papers:

Racist Riots in Tel Aviv Show A New Level of Intolerance in Israel

Israelis attack African migrants during protest against refugees

Tel Aviv mobs attack black migrants