Israel election sentiments

Israelis do not have the considerable power that American voters do over their regional representatives in Congress and that is the source of broken promises, changed platforms and other maladies.

Shalom Pollack, | updated: 13:36

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Uri Yehezkel

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 overall  situation, background and trends, to the daily  firestorm and the accusing fingers vying for our attention.

The Israeli political system is one of unitary proportional representation, which means that if a list can garner a minimum number of votes from throughout the country (3.25% to be exact) itr will win at least four seats in the Knesset. Less than that percentage means the votes for that party are wasted.


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, sometimes primaries, sometimes a comittee and sometimes by the head of the party, and thus the MK is  dependent upon the support of his party far more than he is upon the citizens to whom he directs his election promises.

Promises made are not always kept. Often major policy promises are ignored as the governmenbt turns an about face  (Yamit, Oslo, Gush Katif...) with little concern for voter disappointment. If the party boss is satisfied with "his" MK, his Knesset "seat"  is assured.

In Israel there are a large number of parties spanning the political/religious/ethnic spectrum. This allows for a wide range of representation and input into the political process. Today, the third largest party is the Joint (Arab) list. It is the clearest representation of Arab sentiment in Israel today.

What exactly are these sentiments?

Without going into historic and recent details of words and actions, suffice it to say that the Joint List's positions are far closer to the aspirations and actions  of Israel's enemies than to those of Israel itself.

Official Israel (proudly) claims that  this is the "price of democracy."

The establishment has always quietly believed that while grandstanding by granting the Arabs (theoretically) the way 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, and rightfully, it has always been the position of the political class, including the Left, that it would be a great danger to the Jewish state if the Arabs ever really did posses that power. Indeed. it  was  embarrassing when the left and center parties were secretly caught making  political deals with  Arab Mks.

That seems like a long, 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 leaning  Israelis long for a country "of all its citizens" - what they see as a vastly superior and moral situation to just a plain outmoded  "Jewish" state that was yearned for and aspired to for two thousand years.. They way they see it, Arab political influence is no longer a threat to the Jewish state. It is a way out of the Jewish state.

The vast majority of Jews in Israel, however, are not  that "progressive" and vote for Right wing parties.
Without 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 dangerous 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 government from without (and making demands to ensure this support)?

Without the Arab votes added to the Left, there could not have been the Oslo or Gush Katif travesties. Arab parliamentary power was tried and was successful in determining the fate of the Land of Israel and of many, many Jews.

Liberman (a Russian immigrant), head of "Israel Beytenu" leads  a party of mostly Russian immigrants who are Right politically. In the last two elections, he decided to wield those votes (eight seats) to stop the formation of a Rightist government because of personal animosity to Netanyahu, animosity towards religious Jews, and a desire to play the role of kingmaker 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/realized:
1- A congressional type of election of representatives ensuring responsibility to the voter and not to party bosses. Israel is a small country and there is a problem with dividing it into districts as religious party voters are scattered all over the country, but something creative can be figured out.
2 - It is clearly  counter intuitive and indeed suicidal for the future of a Jewish state to allow that 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 is a crucial goal.




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