25 thoughts on “In the Israeli Elections It’s…Livni (or is it Netanyahu)? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Why not the bizarre possibilty of Livni and Lieberman? Livni is centrist and wants a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Is she not for a 2-state solution?

    Lieberman is far right and racist and would love to get rid of the Arab population, in some way or form. I would see him consider a 2-state solution.

    President Obama wants a peace agreement.

    Is the possibilty that far fetched?

    Don’t they say, politics make strange bedfellows!

  2. I think the ideal coalition would be one of national unity that combines Kadima, Likud and Labor. Netanyahu has been talking about making domestic issues like education and the economy more of a priority and maybe he can reprise his previous role as Finance Minister. His previous tenure in tha position was not without controversy but even his most ardent foes admit that the current relative robustness of the Israeli economy is due in part to the tough measures he imposed. I’m not thoroughly thrilled at such a prospect but I know that Israel’s education system can use some attention and a tough shot in the arm. Such a government, while admittedly fragile, would not be beholden to special interest parties like Shas and would not need to include Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beitenu.

    On that note, while I absolutely oppose Avigdor Lieberman, the ferocity with which you savage him is similarly unsettling. Israel Beitenu is not a Fascist party – not in any way I have ever seen “Fascist” defined. Avigdor Lieberman has never called for the decapitation of Arabs, citizens or otherwise. His is a populist message meant to tap into the frustration of Israelis annoyed with the government’s response to the endless Qassam rocket attacks emanating from Hamas. Avigdor Lieberman’s message has no depth and no finesse and while the party was successful I trust your analysis is apt and that they will soon fade away like similar flavor of the month parties before them. Lieberman is a thug, impolitic and, truth be told, a bit of a dolt. His ideas are offensive and the cloud of a police investigation over his head makes him suspect. He is many things but he is not a Fascist. Now lets hope he goes away. He cost Netanyahu lots of votes, and I know that in private, Netanyahu finds him distasateful (we’re neighbors). That is strong enough incentive to keep him out of a ruling coalition.

    1. I agree with almost everything you wrote above. With one exception…

      Would you call Meir Kahane fascist? If so, then you should know that at one time Lieberman was a Kach member. Then he was an out & out fascist. Now, he only mouths the slogans of fascists. He’s become slightly (notice I said “slightly”) more suave and knows that killing Arabs outright would not be good for business. But SAYING he’s in favor of killing Arabs will sell & is quite permissible. Besides, how is saying you’re in favor of stringing up Arab Knesset members NOT fascist? This is language that would make a Brown Shirt proud.

      1. Richard, I am no expert in Israel’s economy, but didn’t the figures in poverty & inequality dramatically worsen during the time Bibi was Finance Minister?

        1. God, yes. I totally disagree w. that aspect of Mia’s comment & should have noted that. He was an incredibly cruel finance minister who presided over a huge increase in the jobless and poverty rates. Something like 20% of Israelis now live in poverty and over 1/3 of ALL children live in poverty. Not a pretty record for Bibi. His apologists try to note that many of the poor are Haredi or Israeli Arabs as if that somehow absolves Bibi of responsibility for their plight.

      2. “Kahane won”
        “Rabbi Meir Kahane can rest in peace: His doctrine has won.
        …If Kahane were alive and running for the 18th Knesset, not only would his list not be banned, it would win many votes, as Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to do. The prohibited has become permitted, the ostracized is now accepted, the destestable has become the talented – that’s the slippery slope down which Israeli society has skidded over the past two decades.”

        Gideon Levy’s article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1062338.html

        Reminds me of the incident soon after Ronald Reagan was elected president. A Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan disbanded, saying “There is no longer a need. Our goals have been met.”

    2. Well Wikipedia defines Facism so “Fascism is an authoritarian nationalist ideology focused on solving economic, political, and social problems that its supporters see as causing national decline or decadence.” Israel Beitenu fits to that definition.

      I am waiting with great interest what the Lieberman’s loyalty test will be. Is it “I swear to obey the Jews” or “I do not ever demand equal rights as the Jews have” or “I also do not like Arabs” or something more abstract? Many pro Israelis do say that other countries have equal loyalty tests. What they deliberately “forget” is that a cultural/historical test is demanded in many countries for new citizen candidates but demanding a loyalty test from already citizens is something unheard. Surely most US Jews born in USA would be pissed of if they would have to make such loyalty test, when others have not.

      1. Precisely right. An Israeli rightist Knesset member erroneously claimed that Americans need to pledge allegiance to BE citizens (not BECOME citizens). What underlies his claim is the assumption that Israeli Arabs should be treated AS IF they are not Israeli citizens. That would justify requiring a loyalty oath for them to BECOME citizens.

        America did have loyalty oaths during the 1950s and the McCarthy era. They were odious and gross violation of civil rights & free speech.

        If the Israeli Supreme Court doesn’t throw out this law if it ever passes, then it might as well close it doors and tell Lieberman that he can take over.

  3. George Orwell wrote: “It would seem that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox hunting, bullfighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.”

    SimoHurtta: You only quoted the first line of the Wikipedia article. Fascism has a number of elements to it. It is anti-democratic: Lieberman has never advocated a one party state or the creation of a dictatorship. Fascism requires complete state control over everything, including Industry, and social institutions. Lieberman has called for civil marriages outside the control of the rabbinate. There are other issues as well and you may want to look at the Wikipedia article on “Fascism” as an epithet.

    Richard: The Brown shirts were not the only ones to string up their enemies. Stalin. Pol Pot and the perpetrators of China’s cultural revolution were not right wingers. Lieberman may be many things – stupid, racist, divisive etc. but he’s no Fascist. I wouldn’t even consider Kahane a Fascist. He was racist and hateful but his political ideology was not evolved enough to be considered Fascist. Hamas is more Fascist than either and even then I have trouble considering them Fascist. They at least have the authoritarian part down pat as they go around Gaza summarily executing and maiming political opponents.

    Sorry to be such a stickler, but I don’t enjoy it when otherwise intelligent conversation is marred by unnecessary epithets.

    1. Fascism is anti-democratic as is Lieberman. Restricting citizenship or removing citizenship from those who already have it epitomizes the term “anti-democratic.” He’s in favor of democratic rights for JEWS. But that doesn’t meet the full democratic standard. Lieberman is a secularist and that is why he’s in favor of civil marriages. If this were instituted marriage would still be regulated by the State so that was not a persuasive claim on yr part. Lieberman seems to have very little interest in economics (unless you include lining his pockets and those of his family as “economics”) so it’s hard to say whether his economic views are fascist.

      I disagree w. yr claim that Kahane was not a fascist. His followers here in the JDL were responsible for assassinating an Arab American I knew. One of the conspirators committed suicide in prison. The other had his throat slit in prison. My life was threatened by one of them as well. Fascists all.

      Your claims about Hamas betray your prejudices but not any real knowledge of the movement. And certainly betray little understanding of Palestinian political conditions.

      1. Lieberman is a secularist and that is why he’s in favor of civil marriages. If this were instituted marriage would still be regulated by the State

        To play devil’s advocate for a moment, I’m also a secularist, and I’m all for civil marriage, but I don’t think that makes me a fascist.
        Every country that has civil marriage has to regulate (read: register) it only because of the benefits (tax, insurance, mutual rights, etc.) that come with it. I don’t see anything sinister in that, provided the marriage will be possible for everyone (currently unmarried and with some minimum age, obviously), including religion-wise/ethnically mixed and same-sex couples.

        (Btw, the suicide of one criminal and the murder of another in prison has nothing to do with whether they were fascists or not.)

        1. No, no. That’s not what I meant. I was arguing against Mia’s claim that because Lieberman is in favor of civil marriage this means that he is anti-statist (since currently marriages are controlled by the rabbinate, hence “the state”). My argument was that even if marriages were civil & not rabbinic that does not make Lieberman anti-statist since the state would still regulate marriage, just under a diff. guise.

          The fact that Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel committed suicide & was murdered respectively has everything to do with how they lived their lives. There were murderous Jewish terrorist thugs actually responsible for murdering an Arab American and others and responsible for threatening the lives of others. I’m entirely content with labelling them fascists. I’ve written a long essay about Krugel’s murder here.

  4. Richard! You have no idea about my prejudices. My room mate was just in Gaza. Just got back yesterday. She organized a humanitarian delegation of European mental health professionals who went down to assist those suffering from PTSD etc. She told me about how Doctors at Shefa relayed to her the behavior of Hamas. That’s not prejudice – that’s facts from the ground.

    Being hateful and racist and violent and anti-democratic makes one exactly that – hateful and racist and violent and anti-democratic, but it doesn’t neccessarily make one a Fascist. Manifesting some elements of fascism doesn’t make one a Fascist. Throwing around terms like Fascism and Apartheid with little regard to their actual full meaning only serves to obfuscate and does not lead to productive dialog… at least in my humble opinion.

    1. Well if your room mate was just in Gaza, does it make you “liberal and open-minded” and worried about Palestinians rights. Your room mate is that, you not.

      Let’s Mia remember that both Mussolini and Hitler came to power through elections. Lieberman has been openly speaking about limiting parliamentary freedom (banning Arab parties) and even suggesting killing fellow members of Knesset. Can you guarantee that Lieberman would not limit also the ultra religious Jewish parties “possibilities” if and when it fits him? Lieberman has also a big advantage compared to the Italian and German Fascist movements, most Israeli parties have with the core question (robbing Palestinians land and possibilities) an equal opinion as Israel Beitenu. If Lieberman and his movement do not represent a fascist movement what does? If some western leader would be speaking with equal terms as Lieberman has done that would be really alarming.

      Israelis and their supporters use all the time without any problems the terms fascist and Nazi with Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas. Or with some European populist movements, for example Haider’s party. Why then be so “shy” when Jewish parties are compared and categorized?

      A good test of own conscience is to think if a European party would have an equal program as Israel Beitenu and the targeted “bad people” would be Jews. I suppose you Mia would have no difficulties in declaring that party as fascist.

    2. Your roommate (not you) spent a few days in Gaza and witnessed summary executions perpetrated by Hamas?? Is that what you claim? Are those the facts on the ground that you claim? If not, perhaps you’d like to backpedal a bit and qualify precisely what facts you’re claiming & how you claim to know them. Are you aware that an Italian newspaper claimed a doctor from Shefa told them that the Gaza death count was fictitious and only half the number of Gazans actually died during the war. This despite the fact that even Israel accepts that 1,300 died. Perhaps your roommate spoke to the same doctor?

      Would you mind asking yr roommate to ferret out stories of the Fatah’s chief torturer Dahlan who maimed and killed Hamas activists at will along with his other Fatah henchmen? Perhaps you’d like to read up a bit to understand that there is always context to Middle East violence whether it’s a Gaza war or a Hamas killing. It doesn’t justify them. But it explains why they happen. Leaving out context as you do is a fatal blunder which leaves you deaf dumb and blind & allows you to understand nothing of the reality of Gaza except of course via 3rd hand information of the type you attempt pass off as as credible.

      I’m not “throwing around” terms like fascist or apartheid. They are entirely appropriate for the circumstances in which I use them. That may not satisfy you.

  5. Mia is the same person who trumpeted Alan Dershowitz’s academic pedigree as proof that he wasn’t a vulgar propagandist and professional liar.

    By your definition, what makes a person a fascist? Oh and do elaborate on ‘Hamas’s behavior’. Please do tell.

    I wonder what Mia thinks of the IDF or those settlers who only a day ago committed a pogram against a Palestinian village. I know it’s not Jews suffering but lets see your in-depth analysis on that one (out of thousands upon thousands).

    People like Mia will quietly ensure the disintegration of the Palestinian people and their chances of freedom. I will never feel sympathy for Jewish suffering after this and I hope others won’t either.

    You people are disgraceful and sanctimonious.

    1. LD, you started off making good points, but your claim that you will never feel sympathy for Jewish suffering is disgraceful. Why is it that people who claim to be angry about one form of racism think it’s okay to be a racist in some other way?

      I am angry at the self-righteous murderousness of the Israeli government and those who defend it, but it’s well within the norm of human behavior, unfortunately. We all tend to be narcissists when it comes to atrocities–ours are justified, while those of our enemies are not. Orwell wrote essay after essay about this.

  6. I believe “fascisitic” would do as being more precise but it may not be strong enough for the disdain we wish to convey.

  7. Look, I’m not opposed to removing the ultra-Orthodox stranglehold on marriage, or compulsory military service for Israeli Arabs. I AM, however, opposed to ethnic cleansing and population exchange. And since there are other parties that champion Liberman’s “good” issues, i’d rather not take the good with the (really REALLY) bad.

  8. I fully appreciate Mia’s caution in using labels that polarize discourse and, if used to often, obscure the real threats. However, I fail to see how Liberman is *not* fascist. All the tell-tale signs are there.

    We have here a candidate who has risen to where he is purely on racist demagoguery. His main platform is revoking citizenship rights to ethno-religious minorities who do not swear their “loyalty” – a principle that seems vague enough to similarly disenfranchise all political opponents.

    Less discussed is Liberman’s extensive record of fascist tactics, not only his fascist platform. Unlike all the other parties in Israel, Israel Beitenu’s list of candidates is unelected. Everyone serves basically at his own personal whim and several have been arbitrarily dismissed. Before the loyalty motto took hold, the party’s motto was an Orwellian “I believe him” and before that “Da Liberman!”. This is a man who is creating around him a cult of personality, who curses journalists for getting in the way and speaks against politicians for being “ineffective”. Since 2006, he has been harping on about switching to a “presidential system” – in which a president has powers to override the “procedural” Knesset and the “fanatical” Supreme Court”… This seems to me to be EXACTLY the moment to pull out the ‘f’ word.

    First they came for the Arabs…at least I can say I spoke out.

  9. SimoHurtta: I regularly do volunteer work in Hebron and last year I spent 6 months working for a health focused NGO in the West bank. I’ll let that speak for itself. Hitler and Mussolini’s ascent to power via democratic means is irrelevant to the conversation. As for Lieberman, he is (again) hateful and racist and violent and anti-democratic and that makes him fascistic but it doesn’t make him a fascist (thank you Suzanne for making the correct distinction). I think Iran is a fundamentalist theocracy and I believe that Hamas and Hezbollah are similarly Islamic and fundamentalist, but I have never called them Nazis or Fascists and anyone that does is as incorrect as those who call Lieberman a fascist. Also, a hypothetical European party that targeted Jews as “bad people” would be definitely anti-Semitic but not necessarily fascist. The “Fascist” designation would depend upon their particular political platform.

    Richard: My roommate, who when not leading this delegation, does volunteer work with children in Jenin, spoke to several Doctors at Shefa who told her that they witnessed summary executions by Hamas partisans of suspected Fatah members who were hospitalized. I’m well aware of the claims of that Italian reporter that even the Israelis disputed, that has no bearing here. She spoke to several Doctors as well as other Gazans who reported various abuses. Don’t get me wrong. She has dedicated herself to the cause of Palestinian Human Rights and has no political axe to grind. However, she is trustworthy, meticulous, reasonable, passionate and, most importantly, scrupulously honest. You don’t have to believe her, but I most certainly do. She also said that the people on the street, apart from some minor grumbling, love Hamas. We both agree that Hamas is an idea that cannot be militarily obliterated despite Lieberman’s fondest wishes. The solution has to be negotiated and political – but it doesn’t change the fact that Hamas aren’t nice guys at all.

    As for Dahlan, his abuses are well known and well documented. Of course I understand the context, but did you really expect a detailed report in a comment? I’m not writing an entire post and merely stating what had been told to me by what I consider a very credible source. We’re just sussing out the facts here, and I am relaying to you what was told to me by what I consider to be an honest and reliable source. You can poke holes in it if you like, you can disagree or express doubt, but your dismissive tone is kind of insulting. I’ve had and continue to have direct experience with all elements of Palestinian society – from the poorest to the most powerful, and from all factions as well. My notions come from direct contact with the Palestinian people and much work on their behalf. I’d put my experience up against that of the the vast majority of armchair pundits who claim to know what’s best for the people of Palestine. And I don’t even claim to know what’s best! I’m a humanitarian volunteer doing what I do because there’s a need for it. That doesn’t stop me from making honest assessments.

    LD: A person is a fascist when they follow all or substantially all the ideology of Fascism. Look it up in Wikipedia or any basic Poli-Sci text book. Try to understand the difference between fascistic and fascist. As to the events in Hula perpetrated by armed settlers from Beitar Illit, the firing of weapons in Arab village is outrageous and the Israeli governments failure to enforce its own laws is something that might come back and bite them in the ass. A 15 year old boy was injured from a shot in the leg and had to be operated on. That having been said, while this was outrageous, it wasn’t exactly Kishinev, was it? I wouldn’t call it a pogrom and no I don’t think the term “pogrom” only applies when Jews are victims. There have been many well documented and recent pogroms where Indian Muslims, Turks, Kurds, Ethnic Russians etc. have been the victims. Thats my assessment of what went down in Hula. Sorry that I won’t temper my outrage at this injustice with baseless sloganeering.

    Once again, I’d like to thank Suzanne for succinctly making a point about the difference between fascist and fascistic. Lieberman is a truly horrible man, and he is fascistic, but that still doesn’t make him a Fascist.

    1. You made a pat & summary judgment that Hamas was essentially a band of thugs which engages in summary executions. That’s all you said.

      Now, you’ve entirely changed yr characterization of yr views of Hamas & added far more nuance. I wish you had expressed these views initially & I would not have reacted so strongly against yr initial prejudicial assessment of Hamas.

      I never claimed Hamas are angels any more than I claim that Fatah or the Irgun or any Jewish nationalist group were angels. They all leave & left a lot to be desired. But to characterize Hamas the way you initially did called out for correction. I certainly believe that SOME Hamas operatives killed some alleged Fatah collaborators in Gaza. But even to remotely claim that such thuggery by a few rogue Hamasniks comes anywhere close to the IDF organized killing machine that held sway for 3 entire weeks in Gaza is wrong. And SOME Hamas thugs “appropriated” UN food meant for hungry Gazans. Does that make the entire movement into mafiosi? Let’s keep things in perspective is all I’m saying.

      What I object to is people who look for evidence against Hamas to prove their prejudices rather than observing Hamas for what it is with both beauty spots and warts. The same is true for Israel. There are those who think they know Israel as pure evil. They don’t really know anything other than their prejudices.

  10. You may value discovering the article I’ve posted this morning:

    “Why world peace hinges on the Israel election, and what you can do about it.”

    Please read this column, and if you agree with the message about contacting President Peres to side with Tzipi Livni in the election, kindly forward this email to your friends, post it on your mailing lists, write about the topic and/or post a link on your own webpage or blog. Also, kindly tweet it, digg it, stumble it, Fark it, reddit ,and otherwise bookmark it — so others know what they can do.

    Thanks for spreading the world and urging public input before the fateful decision is made this week about who will be deemed the narrow winner of the parliamentary election in Israel. Your action today could help determine whether democracy or propaganda, faith or fear, will prevail in the Middle East.

    Thanks and shalom,
    — Judah

    Judah Freed
    Political Issues Examiner

    Author, Global Sense

    “Does your life make global sense?”

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