How Israel Lost

In this week’s column at Souciant, I do a rundown of the winners and losers in the so-called “Operation Pillar of Defense.” I examine a number of different actors, not just Israel and Hamas, as well as some of the regional implications. Hope you find it interesting.

Ignoring Arab Voters

In this week’s article at Souciant, I examine the lack of political power of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Though they have the right to vote just like any Israeli, as Israel endlessly reminds us, the power of that vote in the real world is negligible, and not just for the reasons many disillusioned voters feel. It’s about the marginalization of Israel’s Arab sector more broadly.

Panicked Bibi Shoots Himself In the Foot in Merger with Lieberman

I’ve long suspected it, but now I’m convinced: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his mind. His announcement todayof forming a joint list with Yisrael Beiteinu and Avigdor Lieberman reeks of a panic not rooted in any sense of reality. And this time, it’s not about “the Arabs” or Iran, but about the upcoming election. It’s proof positive that the man running Israel, and who is going to continue to run Israel for the foreseeable future, is a frightened, perhaps even paranoid, reactionary man.

Consummating their love and uniting the right: Avigdor Lieberman and Benjamin Netanyahu

According to Yediot Akhronot’s web site, YNet, Bibi made the decision to do this because polls indicate Likud would lose a few seats in the next elections (sorry, the report is not available in English at this time). Netanyahu wants to be the leader of the next Knesset’s biggest party, not the second biggest as he currently is. So, he threw in his lot with Lieberman and his explicit fascism.

I think this move is going to backfire on Bibi in a number of ways. First of all, this is going to alienate a number of very high profile Likud members. Some will be seeing this as coming at their expense, especially those in top positions right now who will be bumped at least one rung, perhaps more, lower on the list and in their positions in the next cabinet. Others, like Dan Meridor, Benny Begin and more, are going to bristle sharply at having to work this closely with Lieberman. It would not surprise me to see several prominent Likud figures bolt.

Second, whereas before the so-called super-bloc of “center-left” parties was largely a media invention, Netanyahu has now given it much more impetus. While Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid may still be more interested in making their own mark on the electorate, the more seasoned Labor and Kadima parties are going to find that they have little choice but to join forces now in some way. That won’t matter to Bibi…unless Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni re-enter the fray, which make Kadima meaningful again and would combine well with a Labor Party that Shelly Yachimovitch has kept at a steady second place in polls for months. Continue reading

Netanyahu is Forever

Ok, maybe not forever, but in this week’s piece at Souciant, I examine Bibi’s strategies in his latest political shenanigans. His goal is the same as always, to strengthen his position and hold on to the Prime Minister’s office as long as possible. But it is troubling that so many factors are lining up to enable to do just that for a long time…

Where is the Israeli Sadat?

In this week’s piece at Souciant, I look at Akiva Eldar’s revelation that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused an invitation to address the Arab League in 2007 in order to promote a regional peace process with the goal of fully normal relations between Israel and all Arab League members. It serves as a reminder that, while the Netanyahu government is so radically right wing and makes an easy target, Israeli obstruction of any steps that might lead to an end to occupation runs much deeper than the current government.

J Street Looking Less And Less Like A Potential Game-Changer

This article originally appeared on LobeLog

Four years ago, there was some hope in Washington that J Street, the self-proclaimed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” Jewish lobbying group, could someday provide a

J Street President, Jeremy Ben-Ami addressing the crowd at J Street's third conference

counterweight to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

No one expected J Street to seriously challenge AIPAC after just four years. But the organization’s track record to date gives some cause for concern with regard to the direction its heading in.

J Street has had some controversial missteps in its time. For example, its waffling on the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-09, and its dissembling response when it was revealed that left-wing magnate George Soros had been one of its key initial funders.

This time their investment in Peter Beinart presented a hurdle for them. Beinart published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for what he regrettably termed “Zionist BDS,” which is simply a new name for a policy long advocated by left-wing groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and more center-left groups likeAmericans for Peace Now. It basically advocates for the boycott of settlement products, services and venues.

Just a few days before Beinart appeared as one of the key figures at their conference, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami gave an interview to Iran/Israel hawk Jeffrey Goldberg where he strongly criticized Beinart’s stance. The result, which became apparent when the issue came up during one of the plenaries, was to split the conference audience over the issue. Continue reading

Pro-Peace Jewish Lobby Stresses Return to Stalled Talks

My report for Inter Press Service on the J Street conference is up and running. This one reports on some highlights of the conference. I hope to write more about it in the next few days, giving more of an analysis of the conference.