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Bradley Burston: Think Israel's a lost cause? Ten reasons to think again

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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 05:28 PM
Original message
Bradley Burston: Think Israel's a lost cause? Ten reasons to think again

...There was a time when, for Jews the world over, standing up for a democracy-minded Israel meant standing up for yourself, for what you, in your heart of hearts, believe.

That time is back.

On Saturday night, the weather stone cold and threatening, Israelis who had no expectation that anyone would show up at an underpublicized Tel Aviv street march - a demonstration, believe it or not, in favor of democracy and groups working for social justice and Israeli-Palestinian peace - decided to show up anyway.

The turnout was shocking. Marchers filled the broad square by the Tel Aviv Museum and swelled into the adjacent Shaul Hamelech Blvd., a sea of flags and signs, Jews and Arabs, young and old, spilling over to and lining the long wall of the Kirya, Israel's Pentagon. Well over 10,000 people, maybe as many as 20,000, blown away by the turnout, blown away, as well, by a sudden sense of hope...


http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/a-special-place-in-hell/think-israel-s-a-lost-cause-ten-reasons-to-think-again-1.337573

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AnOhioan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 05:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. One can only hope the Israeli citizens make their voices heard.
Edited on Mon Jan-17-11 05:57 PM by AnOhioan
The Israeli gov't needs to listen.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. What do you think they would say?
Edited on Mon Jan-17-11 06:35 PM by oberliner
You don't think the Israeli government accurate reflects the opinions of the majority of the Israeli people?
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. I'm afraid I think that's already happened.
The last election was the Israeli citizens making their voices heard, and what they said was that most of them did not want to make "concessions" to the Palestinians.

What we should be hoping for at the moment is that external pressure can either convince the Israeli electorate to change its views, or force the Israeli government to act against the wishes of its electorate - being a democracy does not give one the right to invade and occupy other countries.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:28 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. Completely wrong in every respect
In the last election, the party that won the most seats was Kadima. This party specifically ran on a platform that included making concessions to the Palestinians in the name of a two-state solution to the conflict.

Livni says Israel must make territorial concessions

JERUSALEM Tzipi Livni, who hopes to be appointed Israel's prime minister-designate, said Monday Israel must give up considerable territory in exchange for peace with the Palestinians, drawing a clear distinction with her rival, Benjamin Netanyahu.

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Politics/20090216/livni_territory_090216/

Livni's party, Kadima, won the most seats as well as the popular vote.
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. You seem to have fixated on Kadima's plurality, but it's entirely meaningless.
I've seen you bring it up again and again, but the fact is that in a political system as fragmented as Israel's plurality is entirely meaningless. Every opinions is represented by multiple parties; what matters is not which party wins the most votes but which opinions win the most votes.

"Kadima won the most seats" is a red herring; the relevant fact is that even if you don't class Kadima as a right-wing party, right-wing parties* won an overall majority of seats. That those seats were split between multiple parties doesn't mean a thing.


I will say that again, to make it clear:

65 seats are held by rightwing parties*.
28 seats are held by Kadima
13 seats were won by Labour, of which 5 are now held by Independence
14 seats are held by other left-wing parties.

Which the largest single group is utterly meaningless; highlighting that fact in preference to meaningful ones gives a deeply misleading view of the situation. The meaningful fact is that *taken overall* (further) rightwing parties have not merely a plurality but an overall majority.




*Likud, YB, Shas, UTJ, NU, The Jewish Home
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:04 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. It is anything but meaningless
There are a myriad of political parties in Israel. The party that got the most votes and won the most seats is Kadima. To dismiss this fact as some kind of "red herring" is to miss the very obvious point that the most popular political party in Israel is one that supports making concessions in the name of reaching a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Your statement that I am challenging has nothing to do with right wing/left wing or whatever other labels you or anyone else would like to ascribe to Israel's political parties.

Your statement was that "the last election was the Israeli citizens making their voices heard, and what they said was that most of them did not want to make "concessions" to the Palestinians"

This is the statement that is wrong. A little over 3 million people voted in the last Israeli election. About half of them voted for parties that explicitly call for making concessions to the Palestinians in the pursuit of a lasting peace agreement.

I think that fact bears repeating as it seems to have repeatedly escaped your grasp.

About half of all of the people who voted in the last Israeli election voted for parties that support making concessions to the Palestinians in the pursuit of a lasting peace agreement.

Of approximately 3 million total Israeli voters:

758,000 people voted for Kadima (the highest total of any party)
335,000 people voted for Labor
115,000 people voted for UAL-Ta'al
112,000 people voted for Hadash
100,000 people voted for Meretz
85,000 people voted for Balad

That is a little over 1.5 million out of a little over 3 million voters who chose political parties that support making concessions in the name of peace.
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. No, you've gotten your numbers wrong.
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 12:32 PM by Donald Ian Rankin
There were 3,373,490 valid votes cast. Of those, Likud, YB, Shas, NU and the Jewish home took 1,767,220 between them - 52.4%.

So your claim is wrong, and mine is right, whether you look at seats or votes.

Not only that, but more than a million of the remaining voters supported Labour or Kadima - parties that, while at least nominally willing to make "concessions", are almost certainly not willing to go nearly far enough. The number who voted for parties with policies that had a good chance of leading to peace was tiny.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 01:06 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. No - those numbers are completely accurate
And they match with your numbers as well.

And you can add to that the fact that even within Likud itself there are those who have expressed support for land swaps and other similar concessions with respect to the peace process.

From a recent poll:

More specifically, the survey showed that 42% of the supporters of the ruling Likud party are in favor of the two-state plan, while 52% of them are against it. Among Labor's supporters, 82% back the initiative and 13% are against it.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3715759,00.html

Any way you slice it, the success of the Kadima party in the last election (despite predictions that suggested otherwise) proves that the most popular political party in Israel is the one that expresses a desire for a two-state solution with concessions to make that happen.

The vast majority of Israelis support a two-state solution - this has been demonstrated in poll after poll after poll.

Israelis and Palestinians want peace

The findings indicate that despite fears to the contrary, the two-state solution remains the only resolution that is acceptable to the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians: 74% of Palestinians and 78% of Israelis would be willing to accept a two-state solution, while 59% of Palestinians and 66% of Israelis find a single, bi-national state to be unacceptable.

http://press.onevoicemovement.org/2009/04/israelis-and-palestinians-want-peace/

To suggest otherwise is ignorant at best and dishonest at worst.

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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. however here's the 'hink'
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 02:22 PM by azurnoir
what kind of Palestinian state, on how much land, and where IMO Israel has given it's answer though it's actions-the on going home demolitions and evictions of Palestinians not only East Jerusalem but also area's B and C of the West Bank refusal of building permits in those same area's, hindering of travel via checkpoints and Israeli only roads all of which seem pointed at 'encouraging' Palestinians to migrate to area A which comprises less than 20% of the West Bank






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shaayecanaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. Honestly, that is just ridiculous...
"No - those numbers are completely accurate and they match with your numbers as well."

That is just dishonest, it is perfectly apparent that both sets of figures cannot be true. Israel has a system of proportional representation that, for all its faults, gives an electoral result that is as close as possible to the popular vote that is received by all the various parties. The right-wing parties are able to convene a majority because the majority of Israelis voted that way.

That Kadima received the most votes of any party is meaningless and simply reflects the fact that the conservative vote was splintered between more numerous parties. If having the most votes of any party was the criterion by which a party was allowed to form government then the Labor Party would be permanently in government in Australia and the LDP would be permanently in power in Japan.

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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:02 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Honestly, the facts are what they are
Both totals match - it's about a 50/50 split. There are lots of small parties that aren't counted in either total - so it may not add up all the way.

Remember the difference between the popular votes and seats won. Israeli electoral system is dreadful. If there was a system like what we have in the US - Livni would have won. But there wasn't and so this rightist coalition was formed. But that reality by no means reflects what the previous poster claimed it did.

To say that it is "meaningless" that Kadima won the most votes is what is dishonest. How can that be meaningless? It "means" that the most popular party in Israel is Kadima. That is simply and undeniably true.

The broader point, however, is that most Israelis support a two-state solution, and that most Israelis support making some concessions in order to make that happen.

The popularity of Kadima in the last election helps to illustrate that point - as do the countless polls that repeatedly show the same results.
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shaayecanaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Both totals do not match...
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 07:30 PM by shaayecanaan
the correct set of figures indicate that a modest majority of voters voted for right wing parties.

"Israeli electoral system is dreadful."

Israel has a PR-based electoral system based on the d'Hondt method which is used successfully in over thirty countries. I think it is a far better system than the United States FPP system, which is used to systematically enshrine 2-party rule and lock out any possibility of a third party emerging. Israel's politicians are dreadful because Israel voted that way.

"If there was a system like what we have in the US - Livni would have won."

If there was a system like what you have in the US, conservative voters would be forced to vote for a single party (probably Likud), and Kadima would have remained in opposition. Further, if Israel opted for a US-style FPP system made up of electoral districts, conservative parties would probably benefit (as they do in the US, due to the fact that the electoral college gives greater representation to voters in rural districts).
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Yes they do
Look at all the parties that received more than 10,000 votes.

The total Israeli voters who voted for such parties was just under 3.3 million people. About half of them voted for Likud/YB/Shas/UTJ/NatU/JH and about half voted for Kadima/Labor/UAL/Hadash/Meretz/Balad/Greens.

I disagree with your support of the Israeli electoral system. I think it is dreadful. It gives smaller parties too much power. I much prefer the US system. But that is a matter of opinion - and I respect yours.

I do not agree with your assessment of what would have happened if Israel had a system like the US - but that is conjecture on either of our parts.

Again, this is all a distraction from the main point which you and others appear to be willfully ignoring - and that is that the majority of the Israeli people do support the two-state solution and do support making concessions in order to make that happen.
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 08:10 AM
Response to Reply #19
21. Declared vs revealed preference.
Edited on Wed Jan-19-11 08:13 AM by Donald Ian Rankin
I entirely agree with you that the declared preference of a majority of the Israeli electorate is for a two-state solution.

The revealed preference of more than half of the Israeli electorate is for parties which have set about opposing the two-state solution. It's possible that some of those voters really were naive enough to vote for Likud because they thought it would make peace, but I think it stretches credulity somewhat to suggest than a significant number were.

I think that revealed preferences is a much clearer indication than declared preference of what people really want.


In particular, since the only reason the question "do the Israeli electorate support making significant
territorial "concessions" in the cause of peace" is an important one is because that will influence their government, someone who genuinely supports that but still votes for Likud is as much part of the problem as someone who doesn't.
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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 08:36 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. You make some fair points
I would argue that the Israeli public is pretty divided, but I do feel that a compromise position along the lines of the Geneva Initiative would receive enough public support to succeed.
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. Along which lines, is the problem, though.
The Geneva initiative contains the following passage



Article 4 Territory

1.The International Borders between the States of Palestine and Israel

i.In accordance with UNSC Resolution 242 and 338, the border between the states of Palestine and Israel shall be based on the June 4th 1967 lines with reciprocal modifications on a 1:1 basis as set forth in attached Map 1.



which is great, except that it doesn't specify *what* reciprocal modifications. I suspect that a lot of Israels would support something that could be described as that, and a lot of Palestinians likewise, but they would have very different ideas about what reciprocal modifications were and weren't acceptable.


In some ways it makes more sense to say "I support a two-state solution" than "I support the two-state solution" - lots of people, including many of the Israeli far-right, support two-state solutions of some form, but their ideas of those two states are radically different, and it's that that's the main problem.

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oberliner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-19-11 09:32 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. Have you checked out the maps section?
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eyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. It's been often pointed out here and elsewhere
that the election of Hamas to power should not be read as a rejection of peace with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, as there were other reasons for voting for them, such as rejection of the corruption in the PA.

Has it occured to you that the case here is similiar, to an extent? For example, Israel Beiteynu - ironically the rightmost of the major blocks in the coalition - has gotten a lot of support for reasons which have nothing to do with the conflict; while I find their shenanigans downright embarrasing most of the time, they have some initiatives of which I actually approve (the Civil Unions Law, for example)
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shaayecanaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 07:09 PM
Response to Reply #11
17. I suppose the difference is...
Edited on Tue Jan-18-11 07:10 PM by shaayecanaan
that while support for Hamas seems to be part of a cycle (their popularity is currently at a low ebb compared with Fatah) support for right-wing parties in Israel seems to be more of an ongoing trend. Most far-right wing parties in Europe last one electoral cycle, then they recede or disappear (le Pen, the BNP, One Nation in Australia, etc). In contrast Israel Beteinyu is likely to be able to consolidate and build upon its current representation in the Knesset.

Labor, once the natural party of government in Israel, is likely to be completely obliterated at the next election. The only other left-wing parties are electorally insignificant. It seems altogether impossible that any even nominally leftist government could ever be convened in Israel in the current political landscape. Even a minority government led by Kadima would need to make serious concessions to its likely right-wing partners in order to rule.
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shira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #11
20. Even Lieberman has said in a 2-state deal he'd leave his own settlement. n/t
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shaayecanaan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 06:44 PM
Response to Original message
3. Its a well-written article but very optimistic...
if elections were held tomorrow the government would shore up their coalition by about six seats or so, and Kadima would still fall well short of what would be required to form a government.
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Mosby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-17-11 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
4. interesting read
Thx for posting it.
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 02:15 AM
Response to Original message
5. a very 'rosy' and optimistic piece
we'll see what the future holds
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-18-11 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
7. I'm afraid I think this is grossly overoptimistic. N.T.
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