18 thoughts on “Likud and the Rise of the Permanent Far-Right Majority – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. What sort of outside intervention are you calling for?

    What do you think the US ought to do in this case that was not done in Rwanda or Serbia?

    You write here that “Obama and the rest of the world must act regarding Israel-Palestine” – but exactly what kind of action do you mean?

    1. I’m not inventing the wheel here. Policy analysts have discussed this endlessly. Google for it yrself. Basically, either the UN or EU or Quartet (or any combination thereof) would come up with its own plan and tell both sides they’ll adopt it or else. If either side refuses, the full weight of UN sanctions would be imposed until they did.

      1. As an Israeli I must protest against your hope for outside intervention, which will work against the sovereignty of the state of Israeli and its citizens.
        I share your concern about the results of the latest spree of laws from the right wings MPs of the Likud and of Israel Beitenu. I oppose these laws and hope that by some miracle they will be buried.
        However, I do not share your apocalyptic visions and I very much doubt there will be any outside intervention in the conflict between us and the Palestinians. We are not Sebia, nor Rawnda. There are no massacres that could trigger international intervention. In fact, the fear of mass killings has tied IDF’s hands in 2006 (Lebanon) and in 2009 (Gazza).

        The blame for the stalemate does not lie with Israel alone. In fact, if you consider the situation in the 1980s and early 90s, Israel has progressed an enormous distance towards peace. Unfortunately, the Palestinians did not go such a long way. They barely moved, thus causing the stalemate. Consider Ehud Barack’s offers during Camp David and Taba talks, or Ehud Olmert’s offers to Abbas. What was the response of the Palestinians? The second Intifada in the first case and silence in the second. One would have thought that they would jump at the opportunity to have an independent state, but they didn’t. This puts the Israeli left wing forces in a position of irrelevance, since the center of the Israeli society have already adopted their ideas for peace with the Palestinians and their position is pretty close to what Olmert offered to Abbas. I think the center left forces in Israel should move away from the Israel-Palestinians agenda to a social-economic agenda, which may win them power in the next elections. otherwise, they will remain irrelevant.

        1. As long as Israel doesn’t define what it’s territorial sovereignty is & define its borders & respect those borders then the world has no obligation to respect Israel’s alleged sovereignty. Israel has shown no interest whatsoever in living peaceably with its neighbors and is a menace to itself & the entire region not to mention its 200+ nuclear weapons. The world can’t sit back & wait for well meaning Israelis to get control of things inside the country & create a rational govt willing to compromise with its neighbors.

          Israel certainly is very similar to Serbia & even Iran. There are small massacres happening virtually every day inside Israeli controlled territory. The problem is there are no massacres of hundreds of thousands. Though if you look at the overall price over the decades, tens of thousands have died on both sides. This is a massive tragedy & your country shows no ability to resolve this situation. It is a country whose leaders are running amok. When a country does this it requires outside intervention.

          The blame for the stalemate lies almost entirely with the Israelis & the fact that you refuse to recognize this is another part of the pathology of Israel. Another reason why you can’t see reality or how to get yourself out of the death spiral you’re in.

          Barak’s offer at Camp David was less than the Palestinians were willing to accept & both Barak & Clinton knew this. Olmert’s offer was less than Barak’s & of course not acceptable. It is not the Palestinians’ job to accede to Israeli offers simply because Israel says they must. It is Israel’s job to come up with an offer attractive enough the Palestinians will be interested in pursuing it. Neither Barak nor Olmert did this.

          There is no reason the Palestinians should jump at an offer to have a Bantustan state, which is what they were offered.

          I do agree that the Israeli left is in a position of political irrelevance, but this is not the fault of the Palestinians, it is the fault of their own vacillation & unprincipled support for whatever war the ruling powers are waging. The Israeli left is dead as a political force & it died of its own hand.

        2. Doron: “Israel has progressed an enormous distance towards peace.”
          Please, Doron, name a single thing that Israel has done to help in the peace process. (And please don’t bring up the old chestnut about removing its illegal settlers from Gaza, Palestine. We know what that was all about, and it had nothing to do with peace for the Palestinians.)

          1. Richard: “As long as Israel doesn’t define what it’s territorial sovereignty is”. Israel has defined its sovereignty boundaries. It is Israel of 1949 (after the truce agreements) + the area of east Jerusalem + the Golan Heights. Other areas are either in Palestinian control (Hamas in Gazza, the Palestinian Authority in the west bank), or under Israeli military rule. I believe Israeli prime ministers such as Barack and Olmert came up with maps for permanent settlement agreement. Unfortunately, the Palestinians don’t have a visionary such as David Ben Gurion and refused the Israeli offers. These offers left in their hands over 95% of the west bank area plus agreement for territorial swaps for the remaining percentage (These 5% are where the major settlements reside, close to the 1967 borders, so these areas can be annexed to Israel and still leave a viable Palestinian state).

            Richard: “There are small massacres happening virtually every day inside Israeli controlled territory”. This is entirely false. Deaths of Palestinians cannot be concealed. If they happen, they are reported in the news. I don’t claim that no Palestinians are killed ever. Some do, most of which are terrorists. Some innocents get hurt by accident. This is entirely different from deaths amongst Israelis. Hamas and other Palestinian militants target Israeli civilians. Their actions cannot be justified as being directed against military targets.

            Richard: “Israel has shown no interest whatsoever in living peaceably with its neighbors and is a menace to itself & the entire region not to mention its 200+ nuclear weapons”. Another false statement. Israel turned against Hamas ruled Gazza after absorbing thousands of rockets from there directed at civilian population. I bet that the USA would have done the same, but wouldn’t have waited that long to take action. Israel is not a threat to Jordan or Egypt who signed a peace agreement with us. You have no proof that Israel has 200+ nuclear weapons. Israel never admitted to having any. Furthermore, even if Israel has nuclear capability, it never showed it before. Israel claimed to not be the one to introduce nuclear weapons to the region. Being an Israeli and knowing the people I can say that if Israel has nuclear weapons, they will only be used as a last resort to protect the country against annihilation. Anyway, I have no knowledge that we have such weapons.

            Mary: “Doron, name a single thing that Israel has done to help in the peace process.”. The ruling opinion in the 1980s was against a Palestinian state. Only left wing small parties such as Meretz supported the formation of a Palestinian state. Many were for maintaining the west bank areas under Israel forever. After all, this is the historic territory where the Judea resided in the biblical times. Today, there is a consensus that we need to part from the Palestinians and that a Palestinian state with some limitation is important for Israel. I think this is a great leap from the 1980s. On the other hand, the Palestinians are still maintaining the “right of return” and hope to return to Jaffa, Acra, and so on. THis is why the peace process is in a stalemate. They are unwilling to get real and start their own state in the areas Israel took from Jordan and Egypt in 1967. This is a tragedy for both people.

      2. In this piece, you write that the RW in Israel “runs the joint” and has a “permanent majority” and that this will not change solely from within but rather only through “outside intervention”. Further you suggest that the cost of a lack of outside intervention will very likely result in “much blood” – potentially (you seem to be implying) to the extent of what occurred during the Rwandan genocide or under Milosevic in Serbia.

        The UN, EU, and Quartet at no point have discussed the idea of regime change in Israel, which clearly seems to be what you are calling for here (i.e. “the Israeli left must realize that it is simply hopeless to bring change purely internally. Change must come from the outside”)

        Those international organizations you mentioned in your response to my comment have, of course, called for a peaceful settlement between Israelis and Palestinians and an end to the occupation but not the replacement of Israel’s government with a different one that is less right wing.

        It does seem that you are calling for regime change in Israel in this post when you call for “overhauling” rather than “tinkering with” the machinery and when you use some of the other phrases that I’ve cited above.

        If, however, I’ve misunderstood your post, and you are not actually calling for regime change in Israel but rather an imposed peace agreement from the outside that Israel must accept or else they will face sanctions by the UN, I cannot imagine that you believe that any universe exists in which the US would possibly impose sanctions upon Israel. As someone who has written extensively about relations between the two countries and internal US politics vis-a-vis Israel, you surely must realize that US-supported sanctions against Israel is not in the realm of reality. Certainly it is much less likely than the possibility of the Israeli people electing a more left-wing government (a possibility you seem to place at around zero).

        I must respectfully conclude, then, that it is really not at all clear what realistic course of action you are suggesting on the part of the Obama administration or indeed any of its supporters in the US who do not wish to see war between Israel and Iran and do wish to see a mutually acceptable peace agreement reached with the Palestinians.

  2. Fear is the key here, and the right-wing in Israel are masters of this approach. Israeli society actually has a large middle ground, but by keeping them scared and preoccupied they default to the right. The right are smart. They stoke the traditional fears of an Arab world that hates us + a west that will abandon us. Add to that the fear of a radical left wing that doesn’t really exist + a US president who is anti-Israel. Even the social movement of the summer serves them, because people who are afraid of not managing economically and who go out to protest against the high cost of living have little energy left to protest or even think about anything else. In addition, the government is providing (and least until now) an absence of war (especially for the mass of Israelis in the center of the country), which in the current climate is all the average person hopes for.

    This is a winning formula and the world needs to shake it by a) pressurizing the leadership so that they are forced to move forward by external pressure (since this will not happen internally) and b) Talking directly to the Israeli people and not to their leaders. By showing Israelis what good things are possible as peace moves forward, you circumvent the message of its leadership. This might seem obvious to those outside of Israel, but to the average Israeli exposed to only Hebrew newspapers and TV, the benefits of peace do not outweigh the safety of the status quo, however uncomfortable that status quo might be.

  3. Large-scale wars will not necessarily cause “big-power intervention” in the way you want. The “big” 1967 war led to UN Security Council Resolution 242 which is very favorable to Israel, allowing Israel to remain in the conquered territories pending peace agreements and does not even demand a full Israeli withdrawal (I am sure you will argue that point but Israel does not interpret it that way, nor does has the US in the past). The next big war led to Resolution 338 which reaffirmed 242 (and neither of which mentioned the Palestinians).

    There is no way your dream of an “imposed peace” can ever be implemented. I am aware of proposals like that of Dr Bernard Avishai who somehow imagined that Obama is “the most powerful and popular President since Eisenhower and like Ike did with the Sinai in 1957, Obama can unilaterally force Israel out of the West Bank and Golan”, but I don’t think anybody now believes Obama is in a position to do that…especially considering that he felt obligated to veto a Security Council Resolution condemning the settlements.
    Regarding the Arab side, how could the world force them to accept something the Palestinians don’t want. For instance, the world WILL NOT force Israel to accept the “Right of Return” no matter how much you want it pushed on Israel. Many Israelis are now willing to make concessions that were unthinkable 20 years ago, but ROR is not one of them….no one in Israel will accept it and the world can no demand it of Israel because setting that precendent would open cans of worms all over the world….Germans expelled from Eastern Europe in 1945, Hindus expelled from Pakistan AFTER the partition of 1947, 300,000 Kraijina Serbs from Croatia in the 1990’s and millions of others. However the world can neither force the Palestinians to give up that demand because the Palestinians would have the entire Arab world behind them and the world can not afford to alienate the Arab world due their oil and petrodollar reserves.
    Thus, the existing situation will continue for the indefinite future.

    1. Your “interpretation” of UN resolutions is false & entirely tendentious & off topic. Do not go off topic & introduce extraneous issues into yr comments.

      Obama of course doesn’t want to act any more than he wanted to support the Arab Spring & overthrow of Mubarak. But of course he was forced to concede once it was obvious it was an overwhelming historical force. Eventually, Israel & its policies will implode either through a disaster or some other similar type of event that will bring the world to its senses. I can no more foresee what specific form it will take than Arab freedom activists could foresee a yr ago that the Arab Spring would occur. But these things take on a force of their own & the Israeli situation is so patently twisted, unjust & corrupt (morally) that it will collapse of its own accord eventually. Then you of course & yr views will be consigned to the dustbin of ME history where they belong.

      And yes there will be an ROR in any final resolution of the conflict because it is part of any just solution & must be. Of course contrary to what you claim many Israelis would accept ROR depending on how it was implemented & how it was articulated. As usual you either lie about Israeli opinion or are so clouded by ideology that you’re deluded into believing every Israeli is as full of right wing paranoia & propaganda as you are.

      You can bring up historical parallels all over the place but the plain fact is that Palestinians are depending & have demanded for decades a just resolution of their rights of return. None of the other historical events you mention include anyone demanding justice in the way Palestinians are.

      The existing situation will continue for the future, not the “indefinite” future. You wish it to continue forever. It will not.

      1. If there is one consensus among the Israeli Jews (except a marginal number in the extreme left) is that the so called “right of return” is unacceptable. It could jeopardize the Jewish firm majority, and the ability of the Jewish people to have a state of their own. Even Meretz opposes it. If someone agreed to it, it was only to a small number of people, not to millions. As was stated by others in this discussion, population transfers occurred a number of times in the 20-th century. No Hindu is considering a right of return to his ancestors home, now in Pakistan. No Greek is considering a right to return to Turkey (Izmir, for example). All these people, including the Jews who fled Arab states after our war of independence, have been resettled in their ethnic state. BTW, the right of return should allow Jews from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc’ to go back to their former countries and get back their lost property. I doubt they want to. I doubt any Arab country will agree to their return.

        I would also like to remind you that Jews exercised their right of return to the country from which they were exiled. The Arabs who leave in his area can be considered invaders who should be expelled. Of course, we are not going to do it for moral as well as practical reasons. Nonetheless, let’s not forget whose country it is in the first place.

        1. Even Meretz opposes it.

          What you mean is that YOU oppose ROR, not that there’s a consensus among Israeli Jews opposiing it. Of course there is a consensus that ROR shouldn’t involved millions of returning refugees taking over Israel en masse in one fell swoop & turning it into a Palestinian state. But that’s not what ROR has to mean. You are also wrong about Meretz or even Labor opposing ROR because the Geneva Accords were negotiated by numerous center-left Israeli politicians & it articulated a version of ROR that over 40% of Israelis found agreeable to themselves. 40% of 7 million Israelis is around 3 million. So I’m afraid it wasn’t a “small number” who found this version of ROR unacceptable.

          DO NOT repeat yrself or the arguments of others here. And DO NOT post off topic comments. This blog is not a venue for discussing issues involving international migration & displaced peoples esp. when they historical examples supposedly favor whatever hasbara you have to offer regarding Israel’s expulsion of the Israeli Palestinian refugees in 1948. I don’t give a crap what happened in ancient or even modern history regarding other peoples. I only care about what happened between Israel & its Palestinian residents who were expelled. Confine yrself to that discussion.

          Jews exercised their right of return to the country from which they were exiled.

          That is actually a false historical portrait. Jews were never exiled from Israel by the Romans or by anyone. In fact, Jews have always lived in Israel & could always live in Israel if they wanted. And as for Arabs being considered “invaders who should be expelled,” thanks you’ve shown your true racist colors & grossly violation this blog’s comment rules. If you write another comment here first read those rules, because if you violate the rules again you won’t publish comments here.

          1. Wrong. Israel has never defined its borders. As proof, the Separation Wall, which has become an Israel-defined de facto border, does NOT follow the 1949 armistice lines. No one has ever agreed that Israel includes east Jerusalem or the Golan. Israel itself has never renounced the West Bank & settlements. So I’m afraid you’re either lying outright & just lying to yrself.

            As for David Ben Gurion being a “visionary,” if he was why didn’t he offer the Arabs anything that would entice them to settle the conflict? If you’re claiming that Olmert or Barak (pls learn the diff. between Ehud BARAK and BARACK Obama) are or were visionaries I’m afraid they don’t have the sort of visions any Arab would find appealing.

            Deaths of Palestinians cannot be concealed. If they happen, they are reported in the news.

            They’re concealed by the fact that either they’re not reported or they’re buried in a small item in the back pages. No Israeli cares about Palestinians killed. They’re all terrorists anyway.

            Some innocents get hurt by accident.

            No, not “hurt.” But killed, as in dead, murdered. Why can’t you manage to use the proper words? Too tough for ya, huh?

            Israel turned against Hamas ruled Gazza after absorbing thousands of rockets from there directed at civilian population.

            Wrong again. Israel turned against Hamas yrs before those rockets fell. And it specifically imposed the Gaza siege as soon as Hamas won the PA election in 2006. The siege had nothing to do with rockets, but solely with Hamas’ election victory.

            I bet that the USA would have done the same,

            We do do the same. We fire missiles at Pakistani, Iraqi & Afghan civilians all the time killing them in droves. Are you saying that’s a justification for Israel doing the same??

            You have no proof that Israel has 200+ nuclear weapons

            That is simply a dumb statement. The world’s experts on nuclear proliferation include the foremost Israeli expert, Avner Cohen, state that Israel has 200-400 nuclear weapons. What information do you have that they don’t? Can you share it?

            Israel never admitted to having any

            Not true either. Ehud Olmert publicly bragged that Israel had nuclear weapons. And was roundly excoriated for doing so but the cat was out of the bag.

            Israel claimed to not be the one to introduce nuclear weapons to the region

            That’s not what Israel promised. It promised never to be the first to USE them in the region. Though such promises are purely empty. Everyone knows if Israel was under existential threat it would use them in 1st strike capacity no matter what it’s said. In fact, Israeli contemplated using an improvised nuclear device in 1967 if it was losing the war.

            Being an Israeli and knowing the people I can say that if Israel has nuclear weapons, they will only be used as a last resort to protect the country against annihilation.

            That’s comforting. And we know that you have the ear of the PM who will have his finger on the trigger, how? And we can trust that your good intentions will be heeded, how?

            Today, there is a consensus that we need to part from the Palestinians and that a Palestinian state with some limitation is important for Israel. I think this is a great leap from the 1980s.

            You think the idea that having a Palestinian state “with some limitation” is a “great leap” from the 1980s?? My how white of you! And so magnanimous too! Pardon us if we’re not as impressed as you with Israeli social “progress.”

  4. You said:
    As usual you either lie about Israeli opinion or are so clouded by ideology that you’re deluded into believing every Israeli is as full of right wing paranoia & propaganda as you are.

    Okay, you prove to me that Israelis are willing to accept ROR. I can demonstrate they don’t. In this article you yourself complain that the Right controls the gov’t in Israel. The Right has won most of the elections since 1977, yet you claim YOU are in touch with Israeli opinioin and not me?! Why does the Right win the elections if you think they all want to divide Jerusalem, knock down all the settlements and are willing to accept hundreds of thousands or more Palestinian refugees?

    BTW-you say my bringing in 242 and 338 is not relevant? You say the world is going to finally get “fed up” with the Arab/Israeli conflict and is going to impose a solution along the lines you want. I have shown that in previous crises they did NOT do so.

    1. A plurality of Israelis polled said they supported the provisions of the Geneva Accord which call for a mutually negotiated version of ROR. That makes you full of crap. Stop meandering off the reservation by telling me which governments have won elections. A peace deal has nothing to do with elections or whether the right controls the government. If the far right controls Israel’s gov’t for the next 50 yrs that makes it all the more certain Israel will never make peace & that the outside world will have to force it to do so. And they will.

      I said UN resolutions are OFF TOPIC. Whether they’re “relevant” or not is…well, irrelevant.

      1. “Plurality”? That is not a majority. I also want to know when this poll was conducted. I have seen people trumeting Geneva Accord polls that are 6-7 years old. How old is the poll you are claiming?
        Also what is a “mutually agreed” version of RoR? I think those who claimed they accept it think that means a few thousand, not the hundreds of thousands you have accepted in the name of the Palestinians. RoR means UNLIMITED. That is what Abbas told Olmert and Condoleeza Rice. An intitial unspecified number would be admitted and then it would be opened up again for a second round.
        No Israelis will EVER agree to what you think is a “fair” peace agrement, nor will the Arabs. Although you keep claiming that most Israelis have moved in your direction since the 1970’s regarding concessions they are supposedly willing to make , peace today is FARTHER away than it was 40 years ago. That period marked the collapse of secular Nasserite Pan-Arabism and no one knew what would take its place. Sadat and all the other old Pan-Arabists were ideologically exhausted. Today, all has changed and military political Islam is on the march. The Muslim Brotherhood will never push the Palestinians to agree to accept the agrement you think is good for them.

        1. I said plurality because it was the largest response of all to the question. I don’t track Geneva polls. If you want to find out results you’ll have to look them up yrself. The truth is that most Israelis would have no serious problem with a specified number of refugees returning to resettle in Israel. It would depend on the number, over how long a period Israel would absorb them, and what funding was provided by the international community to support their aborption into Israeli life. Of course you would howl & scream about any refugee returning. But most others would not despite whatever nonsense you claim. They would esp. accept this in the context of an overall settlement that offered Israel full peace, permanent resolution of all outstanding issues, recognition by all Arab states, & security guarantees against Arab attack.

          As for your other questions, you’ll have to read the Geneva Accords to discover how they formulated ROR. I’m not going to go over something here I’ve already written about 10 times over the yrs. Don’t make me repeat myself. ROR means whatever the parties accept it to mean. Some Palestinians & right wing fanatics like you define it as the return of ALL refugees. That’s btw never what it meant. Even to the most radical it meant the return of those who wanted to return. But at any rate, ROR will mean what the sides say it means when they reach agreement.

          As for your characterization of what Abbas said about ROR, that’s not even worth the paper it’s not written on. I don’t trust anything you say unless it has quotation marks around it & even then I wouldn’t unless I could verify it myself.

          The Arabs have ALREADY agreed to a fair peace agreement. It is the Israeli gov’t (not the Israeli people as a whole) who refuse an agreement.

          As for whether peace is nearer or farther than 40 ys ago, I’ll tell you this, Israel’s destruction is much nearer today than it was 40 yrs ago. It’s only a matter of time unless either Israelis or the world see the light. The hour is getting late.

          military political Islam is on the march.

          Spare us yr stupid, nattering right wing hysterics. YOu remind me of the old anti-Nazi newsreels: “The Nazi horde is on the march–through Poland! Through Belgium! Through France!” The only thing that’s ideologically exhausted is your hasbarist nonsense.

  5. Thanks for this Richard, though I must say that there is a gap between the headline and the text that left me a tad disappointed. Please take this as an invitation to write, incisively as you do, about the creation of a right wing hegemony in Israel, that is actually destroying the potential for any true left wing government. I mean this in the deepest way possible. I’ve been thinking about it since an American friend gave me David Brock’s “Blinded by the Right” to read, and it literally shook me to get such a detailed inside look into the right wing machinery: capital (gun, oil, drug lobbies), media (Fox, Washington Times), criminal and semi-criminal behavior, academia/intellectual bashing, talking points (“to be a liberal is anti-American”) that are repeated over and over, etc.. The point of all this is to say that I think this is exactly what has happened in Israel. We are now reaping the work, some more obvious, some more discrete, of about 15 years of an Israeli right wing machinery that has solidified its hold first on senior army ranks, then the media, then the civil service, then the legal system (Solberg, etc.). The point is that the right is willing to submit the democratic foundations to political contingencies. But that is only on the face of it. Because the long term plan is that there will be no democratic contingencies. And that’s why I jumped to read your post when I saw the headline. What we’re seeing here is indeed the fruits of a long term plan to establish a “permanent far right majority”. Dimitri Shomsky (apologies if I misspelled) hit it right on the nose here:
    If you would like to take upon yourself to show the similarities between the American right wing machinery and the Israeli one, it would be very helpful for those of us who would like to learn how it’s even possible to think about coming back from the brink.

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