Israel’s preeminent political observer gives us a personal Knesset tour
– as no one else can
… by Jim W. Dean, VT Editor … featuring Uri Avnery
Turning a new leaf – or the same old thing?
We have been anxiously awaiting how the post election coalition maneuvering might give some clues of where the 25% of the seats the Netanyahu-Leiberman team ended up…for better or worse.
Uri’s analysis seems to be it is still up in the air, but that we should not hold our breath waiting for the tooth fairy to come sprinkle magic dust.
I use that analogy because when I was a kid this was my first choice of a job when I grew up. It wasn’t a cross gender thing at all, but the big stash of cash she had and magic part being so cool that attracted me.
But mother put the kabosh on that. She threatened to kill me if she caught me playing tooth fairy, or any other kind.
Israeli politics is virtually never covered by American media. And there is a good reason for that. America’s opinion of Israel and Israeli’s in general would go way down.
After all, a fortune has been spent propagandizing us they are all this homongenous monolithic one mind group, forged together by 2000 years of persecution, which by the way, we are all guilty of and anything can be done to us out of righteous retribution.
You remember that part of the schtick I am sure. Everybody else that was persecuted during the 2000 years, sorry…you must go to the back of the bus…and stay there. We will call for you when it is time to clean up.
In my early research on the wonderful world of Zionism I ran a across delightful resolution passed by the Knesset that listed all the nasty names that members could no longer use when describing fellow Knesset members.
The list went on and on…and on…and on. It was astounding. It was like the Guiness World Record for the longest list of nasty things to call people.
What I learned is that if they are unhappy or upset about anything, you were going to hear a lot about it, and maybe more than you wanted to. Gentiles listening to Israeli Jews getting this treatment and think, ‘Gee…those are a lot of anti-semitic comments I am hearing, but none of them are calling each other anti-semites.”
No, they don’t. They had that long long list to choose from. But the reason this was all censored from American media was because it showed the Israelis were/had been extremely tolerant of free speech as part of their political debate…but for Jews only.
A Gentile who made the mistake of thinking that if Jews can talk to each other like that, in the spirit of whatever, then under the theory of all men are created equal, that means I have the right to do so.”Invisible ink used giving special rights to the future Israeli Lobby
Ah…no…you don’t. There is writing in secret ink in the Bill of Rights where this is strictly prohibited for a special interest group. After years of hard research I am sure all of you can figure out who this might be. I don’t want to spoil the thrill of the discovery for you.
Bottom line is that if Jews will treat each other like this, what chance does a gentile have? I have a graphic example.
I did an article for Press TV which I will be posting here in a few days about an incredible documentary called The Gatekeepers by Dror Moreh.
He got a hundred hours of interviews with all the six living Shin Bet (their FBI and CIA) chiefs talking about their work and disappointment at having been betrayed by Israeli politicians who fooled them into thinking they really wanted peaces, when of course they did not.
All of these men, including the filmmaker, felt Israel was doomed if the occupation could not be ended and peace attained. They all saw the country spiraling down in a way that might not be reversible. In one of the interviews I screened Moreh gave this shocking example.
“Israel will collapse from within if we continue on like we are doing…I don’t see any future for Israel. It’s amazing how rapid the deterioration is…three weeks ago a mob of a hundred Jewish youngsters lynched three Palestinians in the main street of Jerusalem, and people watching did not do anything to stop it, and some egging them on.” (this is paraphrased)
This is part of what all those in America supporting Israel are doing themselves. They have been standing around watching a lynching in slow motion, and doing nothing to stop it.
There are states in America where if you are aware of a child being abused and don’t report it you can be charged with a class A felony. What would be the proper charge for that being done to a whole country of children? It’s grand jury time folks. Think about it. It’s been going on for way too long.
A crisis in leadeship – They just aren’t leaders – but petty politicians
Can Two Walk Together?
… by Uri Avnery – February 7, 2013
Uri Avnery – the old rebel of Israel
“COMPARED TO the Knesset it could have been, this is a very good Knesset!”
I heard this, in so many words, from at least ten former Knesset members and others, as we were drinking orange juice in the Knesset foyer. I could have said it myself (and probably did).
It was the opening session of the new Knesset, and former members were invited to a reception with the new ones. Then we were seated in the plenum hall.
I did not attend the last few times, but this time I was curious to see the new members – 49 out [“of”] 120, an unprecedented number – some of whom I had never even heard of before.
It was really a good sight. Some of the new people were leaders of the social protest movement of summer 2011, some investigative reporters from the media, some social workers. Some fascists remained, but the worst were gone.
The change was not large enough to make me jump into the air from sheer joy, but enough to be glad. Beggars cannot be choosers.
IT WAS a ceremonious occasion, with trumpets and all. Up to a point.
Unlike the British, Jews have no talent for pomp and circumstance. Real Jewish synagogues – not the Western European copies of Catholic churches – are quite chaotic.
In my ten years in the Knesset, I took part in many “festive” sessions, in honor of this or that historic event or personality, and not one of them was really uplifting. We just haven’t got it.
This one was no exception. The President of the State, Shimon Peres, who enjoys much respect abroad but very little in Israel, arrived with an escort of motorcyclists and horse riders, trumpets sounded. He entered the building, made a dull speech full of platitudes. So did the oldest Knesset member (a youngster of a mere 77 years, 12 years younger than I.)
Many members were dressed casually, in shirt sleeves or sweaters. Few wore ties. Very Israeli. During the speeches, members wandered in and out. All the Arab members left immediately after being sworn in, with Hanin Zuabi in the lead, before Hatikvah, the national anthem, was intoned.Ben Gurion and Uri – Early Knesset Days
FOR THE new members it was, of course, a day of deep emotion. I remember my own first day. It was exciting indeed.
Looking at Ya’ir Lapid, I could not refrain from thinking about the superficial similarity between him and myself at the time. We were both elected as heads of completely new parties we had founded.
I was 42, the youngest member at the time, and he is 49. We were both journalists by profession. Neither of us has a matriculation certificate. Our voters came from exactly the same sector of the population: Israeli-born, well educated and well positioned Ashkenazi young people.
Yet there the similarity ends. I represented a tiny faction, his is the second largest. I brought with me a revolutionary new outlook for Israel – peace, a Palestinian state next to Israel, separation of religion and state, equality for Arab and Eastern Jewish citizens. He brings a cocktail of pious slogans.
Nevertheless, the first day in the Knesset is like the first day at school. Exciting. Every new member brought with him his whole family, with the children in their best clothes, to gaze down from the gallery at father or mother sitting below in this proud company.
In this first meeting, members old and new are not allowed to say anything, except the two words “I undertake” (to serve the State of Israel). If I may be permitted to indulge for a moment in memories: I was determined to make my mark and present my message on the very first day.
Studying the Knesset statutes, I discovered a loophole. I demanded to move a motion for the election of the new speaker, and had to be called to the rostrum. So I made my first speech right there: a proposal to appoint an Arab speaker in order to symbolize the equality of all citizens.
David Ben-Gurion, who, as the oldest member, served as temporary speaker, looked at me with wonderment mixed with distaste, an expression immortalized in a rare photo.
WHEN IT was over and Binyamin Netanyahu stood up, like all of us, a curious thing happened: Ya’ir Lapid jumped from his seat, ran up to him and embraced him. It was more than a casual gesture.
As I have said before, Lapid’s future depends on his now making the right decisions regarding his role in the new coalition and his terms of joining. Tension is in the air. The minimum Lapid needs to satisfy his voters is well beyond the maximum Netanyahu can politically afford to give him.
To strengthen his hand, Lapid has ganged up with Naftali Bennett, in order to keep the orthodox factions out. The manifest aim is to compel the orthodox to serve in the army.Arafat and Uri
This raises the ancient question voiced by the prophet Amos (3:2): “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”
Bennett is an ultra-rightist. Some of his detractors call him fascist-lite.
He is totally committed to a Greater Israel, the expansion of the settlements and opposition to any contact with the Palestinians – except, perhaps, an offer for negotiations on terms the Palestinians could not possibly accept.
True, Bennett has a knack for hiding his real ideology behind a facade of bonhomie. He pretends to belong to the same social sector as Lapid: White, Ashkenazi and liberal, the Israeli equivalent of the American WASP (White_Anglo-Saxon_Protestant).
The small size of his kippah serves the same purpose. (It always reminds me of an admonition a British judge in Palestine gave to aspiring lawyers: “Let your summing-ups be like a lady’s skirt: long enough to cover the matter and short enough to be attractive.”)
But Bennett really belongs to quite a different sector: the “national-religious” camp of the fanatical settlers. The nationalist part of his ideology is far more important to him than the religious one. With him in the cabinet, any substantive movement towards the two-state solution would be impossible.
If Lapid doesn’t care, what does that tell us about him? He chose to start his election campaign in the capital of the settlers, Ariel. He emphasized that Jerusalem, “the eternal capital of Israel”, must remain undivided. That already is a non-starter for peace.
Talk Show Host – Ya’ir Lapid – aka ‘the Hunk’
When my friends and I first brought up the two-state solution in the aftermath of the 1948 war, we insisted that the borders between Israel and Palestine must be open for the free movement of people and goods.
We had in mind a close and friendly relationship between two sister-states. What Lapid preaches is the very opposite: the two-state solution as a final and total “divorce”.
WHEN LAPID chooses Bennett as his favored bedfellow, he implicitly declares that the issue of the Orthodox serving in the army is more important to him than peace.
If he preferred peace to the service issue, he would choose the religious Shas party instead of Bennett. That would be very unpopular, but make peace possible.
Shas is a hawkish party, though it started out dovish. But like its Torah-Jewish sister party, it really doesn’t care about anything beyond the narrow interests of its community.
On the evening of the Labor Party’s victory in the 1999 elections, tens of thousands of delirious voters spontaneously streamed to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to celebrate what was seen as a liberation from Netanyahu’s (first) government. When the victor, Ehud Barak, appeared on the balcony, the shout went up from the thousands: “Anything but Shas! Anything but Shas!”
A few days later, at the opening session of the new Knesset (the last one I attended until this week) I went up to Barak and whispered in his ear: “Take Shas!”
Four years ago, when TzipI Livni could have set up a government instead of going to elections, she needed Shas. Shas, as is its wont, demanded a lot of money for its clientele. Instead of paying up, Tzipi kept her virtue and refused. The result: Netanyahu back in power.
This is the same dilemma we are facing now. Pay the Shas-man and have a go at peace, or take Bennett and talk about “service equality”. (It’s just talk anyhow. A law to ensure real equality of military service would mean civil war.)
WHAT ABOUT the real boss? No, I don’t mean Sara’le Netanyahu, who also starred at the opening session. I mean Barack Obama.Back when Bibi thought he was going to nail Obama with his Romney ace in the hole
Without warning he announced this week that he is coming to Israel. Immediately after the formation of our new government. He will go to Ramallah, too.
Should we be happy or not?
Depends. If it is a consolation prize for Netanyahu after his election setback, it is a bad sign. The first visit of a US President since George Bush jr. is bound to strengthen Netanyahu and reinforce his image as the only Israeli leader with international stature.
But if Obama is coming with the intention of exerting serious pressure on Netanyahu to start a meaningful peace initiative, welcome.
Netanyahu will try to satisfy Obama with “opening peace talks”. Which means nothing plus nothing. Even Bennett can agree to that. Not to mention Lapid and Livni. Yes. Let’s talk. “Without preconditions”. Which means: without stopping settlement expansion. Talk and go on talking, until everyone is blue in the face and both Obama’s and Netanyahu’s terms are over.
But if Obama is serious this time, it could be different. An American or international blueprint for the realization of the two-state solution, with a strict timetable. Perhaps an international conference, for starters. A UN resolution without an American veto.
If this happens, the new Knesset with all the fresh, young faces will be called upon to hold a real debate and take fateful decisions. And – perhaps, perhaps, perhaps – make history.
Editing: Jim W. Dean