Friday, February 13, 2009

Israeli Elections

Not much to say on the subject, except my worst fears are slowly becoming realized. In mounting degrees since the 2006 Lebanon War that crippled Ehud Olmert's political capital (which I would point to as the moment that Kadima ceded any possibility of following up the Gaza Withdrawal with a West Bank withdrawal), I've slowly started to fear that Israeli frustration with the lack of progress towards a two state solution would lead them towards more and more extreme reactions--a belief that if they could just hit them harder, do more damage, they'd break the Palestinian will to fight back.

My theory about terrorism is this: if you make the conditions for peace no violence, terrorism will always win. After all, if twenty angry Palestinians with rockets are enough to force the peace process to square one, there will never be peace. Because there will always be twenty angry Palestinians with rockets. Think about how poor arms control is throughout the world. And think about how few the number 20 is next to 1.5 million.

I've advocated Israel ignoring violence within reasonable limits (the death toll from the rockets being not even remotely comparable to car accidents). Of course, from an "honor" or "justice" perspective, this is a grossly unfair suggestion, and emotionally it's impossible to convince any Israelis (even my fairly moderate parents) of this fact.

So if violence must be met with violence, and violence fails to stop violence, clearly the cycle of violence will only increase. Palestinian violence, actually, has decreased since the height of carbombings, and the imposition of blockades and extreme security measures. But on the other hand, even maintaining this status quo is leading to an increase in frustration in Israel.

Israel says its attempting to minimize civillian casualties. That's a silly, hubristic thing to say, but it's probably accurate. But that sentiment is already slipping. Many government officials are saying things between the lines, around the edges, that start to indicate that they want an all-out war, no holds barred, where they can really hit the Palestinians until they win. Like Ariel Sharon did in Lebanon (by the way, that didn't work out--they did warcrimes on the level of mass murders, and it didn't create peace with Lebanon).

If the trend continues, each war will wreak more damage on the enemy. It will fail to break Hamas' wind. Slowly, a delusion will grow in the minds of Israelis. There will be no rest unless Palestinians are gone. All of them. I've heard it said amongst some Israelis (not representative of their nation) that Palestinians are animals and there can be no peace with them. That's the genocidal mindset. And Israel has the strength and position for genocide.

Certainly, Israel isn't in the position to actually wreak genocide. America's position as an independent arbiter is somewhat restored with the incoming Obama Administration, and Europe wields enough of a cudgel to protect Palestine against genocide.

But the desire is clearly there. And now we've reached the recent elections, in which the right wing coalition gained a slight majority over the left wing coalition, even though the centrist party Kadima won the most number of seats for a single party (which is in the left-wing coalition, despite being a thoroughly centrist party formed of as many ex-right-wingers as ex-left-wingers). Likud, the major right wing party, seems set to form the coalition, and its biggest partner is the party that sums up my fears: Yisrael Beiteinu.

Yisrael Beiteinu. They are a party founded out of fear of the "rising Arab demographic" that threatens to wipe out the Jewish majority. (Think Lou Dobbs, only insane).

I can't even bring myself to keep typing the things I've found out about them. Olmert wanted to put Avigdor Lieberman (their head) as Minister of Internal Security. The way that the Communists were given Internal Security portfolios in Eastern Europe, right before the coups. Lieberman thinks that Arab-Israeli ministers are traitors--he led the bill that passed that barred Israeli-Arabs from participating in the last election. It was overturned by the Supreme Court. Lieberman wants to end the power of judicial review in the courts--effectively ending the judicial branch of government as a separate branch. In other words, he wants to end representative, constitutional democracy.

And he thinks that the growing number of Muslims (Arabs/Palestinians) is a problem. I wonder what his ideal solution would be, if he could come up with a final solution to end the problem.

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