Saturday, March 5, 2011

Politics, Democracy And Israel

During the past 37 years of my life here in Israel I have served through six national elections as a representative of the Labor Party at a local polling station. During my tenure as a member of the polling stations I have witnessed that democracy in Israel is a real true democracy, the type of democracy that the world press now exalts in the "democratic uprisings" that have only recently occurred in the Arab world. I have witnessed that the democratic right to vote by secret ballot in Israel was beyond reproach for its totally free and democratic format. In the polling station where I sat, both Jews and Arabs, from our joint municipality Ma'alot-Tarshicah, voted in a quiet and a disciplined manner. The process of voting rivaled only my own voting experience in the United States.

Some seventeen years ago the elections that brought the Labor Party and Itzhak Rabin back into office also brought a wave of optimism in Israel that arose from the first real positive real steps towards peace in the Middle East. This optimism of the "left" and the secular majority was shattered by the political murder of Itzhak Rabin z"l and the subsequential betrayal of Arafat to the Oslo Peace accords. Arafats instigation of the "Intifada" with its terrible wave of suicidal murderous attacks on innocent Israeli citizens hardened the Israeli publics view on the plight of the Palestinians and brought a right wave backlash.
The resulting effect has been the total lack of apathy of the secular centrist voters in comparison to those on the extremes – both left and right. The dilemma we face in Israeli politics today is a direct outcome of the failure of the Palestinian leadership to cease the use of violence and their mulishness to deal directly with Israel. The resounding refusal of the surrounding TWENTY-TWO Arab countries to resolve their complacency in the tragedy of the "Palestinian" refugees is also a factor that influences the Israeli electorate.

The continuous negative image shown by the world media of Israel in the outside world has no influence on the vast majority of Israeli voters. Many Israelis have grown immune to the world's constant myopic one-sided condemnations and criticisms since the infamous United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 that "determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination".

The same heinous accusation of Israeli "racisms" from this infamous vote has been incorporated into the new anti-Israel lies since the building of the security wall, which by the way the cause for its construction is never mentioned by those I term "Haters of Israel". Here are some REAL facts;
From 1967 until the beginnings of the second Intifada in September 2000 the population of Israel and the West Bank were free to move without any inhibitence and to have free commerce.

I personally can remember that when I first came to Israel, in September of 1974, I used to take an East Jerusalem bus company bus to Jerusalem via Jericho from the kibbutz and back. We used to go shopping and to eat in Jenin there was no hatred and no road blocks there was freedom of movement. Thousands of "Palestinians" had jobs in Israel until 1987 when the first "Intifada" –Uprising began.

With the instigation of the Second Intifada, which was a gift from Arafat for signing the Oslo "Peace" Accords, the "Palestinians" carried out 73 suicide attacks, murdering 293 Israeli civilians'; men, women and children and wounding 1,950.
Between August 2003 and the end of 2006 "Palestinian" terrorist organizations operating from Samaria, the northern part of the "West Bank", carried out another wave of 12 suicide bombing attacks, killing 64 Israeli civilians; men, women and children and wounding 445.

What these liars and purveyors of mis-information fail to mention is that a "Peace" agreement was signed on the front lawn of the White House overlooked by President William Jefferson Clinton , Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat and that the agreement was never honored by the "Palestinians" is forgotten and ignored. The "Palestinian" commitment to non-violence and "Peace" brought nothing but wave after wave of suicide bombings, striking throughout Israel, killing scores of civilians and soldiers.

Mousa Abu Marzouq , deputy chairman of Hamas's political bureau in Damascus , was asked by a group of Egyptian intellectuals and politicians why the suicide bombing activity had decreased during since the Hamas government came to power. He said that “ [carrying out] such attacks is made difficult by the security fence and the gates surrounding West Bank residents ” 2 (Abd al-Muaz Muhammad, Ikhwan Online, the Muslim Brotherhood Website, June 2, 2007 ).

Since the August 2003 completion of the first section of the security fence and buffer zone, the so called "Apartheid" Wall there has been a drastic reduction in the number of mass-murder suicidal attacks carried out in Israel to ZERO. So for us Israelis is the world's condemnation and scorn bothering us over the discomfort of the "Palestinians"? As a father I will answer with a resounding NO to Roger Water's accusations.

The continuous murderous attacks of the Palestinians /Hamas on innocent Israeli civilians has turned Israeli public opinion to that of hatred, distain and total apathy to the plight of the Palestinians.The resulting UN sponsored Goldstone Commission Report of the actions of Israel in the "Operation Cast Lead" is a resounding example of negative imagery based on one sided lies and distortions of truth. The simple fact that the world press totally ignored the reason for the operation, which had made life on the Israeli side of the separation line from Gaza unbearable is inexcusably one-sided. The Goldstone and HRW reports which have belittled the effect of more than 9000 Kassam rocket attackslaunched from UNOCCUPIED Hamas controled Gaza together with the plight of Cpl. Gilad Shalit has further distanced Israeli public opinion.

Let me now present some important factors in the history of Israel that form the background on Israeli political history.

The first movement for the return to Zion was established in the early 1880s. It was manifested in the Lovers Of Zion or Hovevei Zion (Hebrew: חובבי ציון‎). It was composed of Jews from Eastern European countries whose sole aim was to promote Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. Their primary objective was to found agricultural settlements.

The socialistic values, of the equality of the workers to have a decent income with proper and convenient lives based on fair wages, was once the standard of the Histadrudt Labor Union from before the creation of the state. These socialistic and even communistic beliefs were brought to "Eretz-Yisrael" by the second group of Jewish pioneers, who came to settle the land during the end of the 19th century 1870 -1925.
The members of this later wave of Zionistic immigration came from the Haskalah - Educational Enlightenment movement. The word HasKalah is derived from the Hebrew word sehkel, “the intellect,” and it refers to the attitude of attraction to general knowledge, secular learning, and Western culture. The "Haskalah" movements aim was for the broadening the intellectual and social horizons of the Jews to enable them to take their place in Western society away from the strict adherence to Orthodox beliefs.

The followers of the Haskalah movement were called "maskilim"; from the word meaning “the wise,”or "men of wisdom" taken from the Book of Daniel 12:3: “And the intelligent [hamaskilim] shall shine as the brightness of the firmament”, The original "Mitnagdim" or "rejectionists" believed that by renouncing Orthodox Judaism and by adopting Secular appearance the Jews would be accepted in the wider society.
When they arrived in "Eretz Yisrael" these Jewish Pioneers became known as the Bilu'im, from the Hebrew acronym Bilu: ביל"ו whose goal was the agricultural settlement of the Land of Israel. "Bilu" is based on a verse from the Book of Isaiah (2:5) Lekhu Venelkha ("House of Jacob, let us go [up]- בית יעקב לכו ונלכה ).

Herzl the "father of modern Zionism" was moved to create the "Zionistic" Movement by the cries of anti-Semitism at the disgracing of Captain Louis Dreyfuss during the court martial and in the terrible anti-Semitic outburst in Russia known for the infamous pogrom of Kishnev in 1905.
The wave of pogroms of 1881-1884 and anti-Semitic May Laws of 1882 introduced by Tsar Alexander III of Russia inspired the young enthusiastic pioneering Jews of Eastern Europe to go to Eretz Yisrael. They came to escape anti-Semitism and to build a new-old national homeland out of the swamplands and desolate desert regions of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. One of the first examples was the founding of Rishon LeZion ("First to Zion") as an agricultural cooperative on land purchased from the Arab village Ayun Kara.
The original pioneering period was glorified in the foundation of the collective settlements "communes" of the Kibbutz movements through the Kibbutzim and Moshavim. This period of relative peaceful Jewish resettlement in Eretz Yisrael died in 1929 with the Arab Revolt and with the imposition of the "White Paper" by the British and the "Arabs of the Mandated Territories".
The riots of 1929 as in the post Oslo period changed the attitudes of many Jews who had once advocated for a binational state. The famous Israeli writer Shai Agnon wrote about Jewish-Arab coexistence;
"I do not hate them [the Arabs] and I do not love them; I do not wish to see their faces. In my humble opinion we shall now build a large ghetto of half a million Jews in Palestine, because if we do not, we will, heaven forbid, be lost."
With the creation of the "White Paper" free Jewish immigration was severely limited. Jews wishing to flee Europe could not and Hitler instituted the "Final Solution" that resulted in the systematically planned genocide "Holocaust" of European Jewry.
The Jews of the "Yishuv"- Jews living in the Palestinian Mandated Areas- volunteered to serve in the allied armies to liberate their relatives in Europe, as well as prevent their own destruction by the Axis armies that were encroaching on Egypt and Iraq.

With the fall of Nazi Germany in May of 1945 the extent of the destruction of European Jewry became known. Those Jews that remained basically had nowhere to return to. Their homes and property had been confiscated. Their families murdered. Those Jews who dared to return were murdered by their neighbors. So where could they go? Many of these survivors looked to the west but for many there was only Palestine, the promised Jewish Homeland.

Though the Arabs and the British tried to keep the doors closed these survivors of the horrors of the Holocaust persisted and their persistency brought the UN to vote for partition in November 1947. Many of the Holocaust survivors who served in the "Lechi" and "Etzel" units were conditioned to oppression by their experiences in the "Holocaust". (The “IZL” or Irgun Tzvai Leumi BeYisrael (National Military Organization in Israel), was led by the later Prime Minister Menachem Begin, from the Likud Party, and the “LECHI”- Acronym for Lohamei 'Herut Yisrael - Freedom Fighters of Israel was led by another later Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Likud Party.)

Just before the Partition went into affect on May 15, 1948 Jews were murdered by the roaming gangs of Arab marauders such as in the infamous attack on the Hadassah Convoy. The butchery and barbarity of these attacks hardened the hearts of the Jewish fighters who had survived the Holocaust. The responses of these "hardened" fighters were never in any way comparable to those of the barbarity of the marauding Arabs.
The archives of The Palestine Post, now known as The Jerusalem Post, reported that sixty-two Jews were murdered by Arabs in the first week after the UN partition plan was passed, and by May 15, 1948, a total of 1,256 Jews had been killed, most of them civilians. The attacks succeeded in placing Jerusalem under siege and eventually cutting off its water supply. All Jewish villages in the Negev had been attacked, and that Jews had to go about the country in convoys. In every major city where Jews and Arabs lived in mixed neighborhoods the Jewish areas came under attack. This was true in Haifa's Hadar HaCarmel (The middle section on the northern slope of the Carmel mountain), Safed, as well as Jerusalem's Old City. Every place of Jewish inhabitation in Palestine was attacked by marauding militias, gangs, terrorists and units from regular Arab armies of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Massacres (of Jews) were not uncommon.
Thirty-nine Jews were killed by Arab rioters at Haifa's oil refinery on December 30, 1947.
On January 16, 1948, 35 Jews were killed trying to reach Gush Etzion.
On February 22, 44 Jews were murdered in a bombing on Jerusalem's Rehov Ben-Yehuda.
And on February 29, 23 Jews were killed all across Palestine, eight of them at the Hayotzek iron foundry.
Thirty-five Jews were murdered during the Mount Scopus convoy massacre on April 13.
And 127 Jews were massacred at Kfar Etzion on May 15, 1948, after 30 others had died defending the Etzion Bloc.

The Arab (Palestinian) apologists on the other hand have accused Israel for the infamous massacre at "Deir Yassin" which was contradicted by an Arab eye-witness in a 1998 BBC interview. Hazem Nusseibeh, an editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service's, admitted that on the instructions of Palestinian notable Dr. Hussein Khalidi, he fabricated a false press release stating that the supposed atrocities that were committed included the murder of children and rapes of pregnant women. Another interviewee in the same program, Abu Mahmud, emphatically denied the atrocity and rape stories. Nusseibeh, told the BBC that the fabricated atrocity stories about Deir Yassin were "our biggest mistake," because "Palestinians fled in terror" and that "They had left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims."

As to the lies of the Arab (Palestinian) apologists that all Israeli attacks on Arab villages were unprovoked, I strongly recommend that they visit Arab villages, which remained neutral in 1948 such as the flourishing village of Abu Ghosh. Mohammed Abu Ghosh was quoted as saying;
"What we did, we did for Abu Ghosh, for nobody else. Others who lost their land, hated us then, but now all over the Arab world, many people see we were right. If everyone did what we did, there'd be no refugee problem . . . And if we were traitors? Look where we are, look where they are."

With the creation of the state of Israel there were two real major political parties. There was the Mapam-Labor Party which had been created by the mainly Ashkenazic socialist secular Jews. Many formidable members of the Labor Party were from Kibbutzim and the descendants of the Biluim. They were the leaders of the Haganah and the Palmach. They were voted out of power in that election of 1978 for the populist free economy and materialistic views inspired by the descendants of the "Second Aliyah" who were the shop owners and small business bourgeoisie that had arrived in the 1920's to Israel. They had founded the Liberal Party based on their capitalist views. They later merged their party with Menachem Begins "Herut" or Freedom party to create the Likud. They Herut Party was directly descended from the pre state Irgun who believe in the "Greater Israel" philosophy of the Revisionist movement started by Zev Jabotinsky

Over the years I have witnessed the animosity and hatred that has deepened within Israeli society through the eternal blindness and fixed myopic world view possessed by the old Ashkenazic Jewish Orthodoxy against the secular mainstream and the birth of the "Eretz Yisrael HaShlema"-"the Greater Israel - movement.
Those members of the old Ashkenazic Modern Orthodox camp, the "knitted Kipas" of the National Religious Party know as "Mafdal", that since the creation of the State ruled together with the Labor Party, have diminished in power and both parties have basically vanished from the political spectrum of Israeli politics due to the issue of control over the "Occupied" areas.

The Ashkenazic Haredi Orthodoxy, which for years attempted to increase it's numbers by allowing certain select Sephardim to learn in their Yeshivot, helped to inspire the rebirth and revitalization of religion among young Sephardic Jews. In the historical 1978 elections the leaders of the Liberal Party movement manipulated the "crowd"-(HaSifsuf), a derogatory term to describe lower class primarily Sephardic Jews to vote out the old and despised and corrupt Labor Party Coalition.
The abject failure in the election of 1978 of the "Old" Labor Party elite can be directly associated with the rejection of the values that had been once imposed by the Eastern European "Ashkenazic"on the nation. By 1978 these "Ashkenazic" values were no longer in step with the needs of the larger population of "Sephardic" youth who were now coming of age. These descendants of Jewish immigrants from Arabic lands had only recently expressed their outrage in their demonstrations for equality in Israeli society in the "Sephardic Black Panther" movement.

The new found pride brought by the "Sephardic Black Panther" movement together with the Sephardic religious movement together evolved into the relatively new phenomena in Israeli society the (SHAS) political party. Since the birth of the party "SHAS" has played a dominant role in the position of "King Maker". The SHAS party leadership has determined through political negotiations just who would serve as Prime Minister and therefore rule Israel.

The original pioneering Zionism that brought forth the rebirth of the Jewish state ended in that election of 1978.

I have witnessed the lack of leadership of "honest" politicians and real political leaders in Israel I believe that this lack is due to the fact that political leaders are chosen from party hacks. Real leaders who grow up within a political landscape as in America where you have a truly representative democracy is lacking here in Israel.
To be an honest politician is to be someone with popular support and the backing of the people that means electoral as well as financial. An honest politician is one who will not need to depend on "big business" corporate money. However this is not possible in today's modern world unless the educated mass of voters do not stop their mundane lives and get out of there homes and become active themselves.

Here in Israel for the last thirty years after the signing of the peace accords with Egypt there has been a terrible wave of apathy caused by the intransigence of the Palestinians to truly seek peace. The two shinning moments of the Israeli democracy were after the election of Itzhak Rabin z"l. Under Itzhak Rabin's government peace with Jordan was made and the attempt to seek peace with the Palestinians in the Oslo Accords was made. The total rejection and return to terror by Arafat and his Palestinian minions brought the religious right in Israel to inspire the "smiling assassin" to commit his cold blooded act. The act of this madman and those who inspired him together with the resounding stupidity of the Palestinians, to abide by their signed obligation to cease acts of terror, sealed the fate of hundreds of innocent lives. The resounding answer of Israel's apathy towards the Palestinian hatred has resulted in the construction of the "Security Wall".

As negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are still dragging on to bring forth a Palestinian state which will recognize Israel as a Jewish State and will be willing to live side-by-side with Israel in peace. The most difficult point to be resolved is the Arab refugee issue. The major question is why should Israel take in ANY of the so called Palestinian refugees? What about the rights of the 900,000 Jews of Arabic lands? They cannot just as the Jewish Holocaust survivors cannot go back. Their former property and homes are gone. So why not require the surrounding Arab Nations ( 22 in all) simply provide citizenship to the grandchildren of the "refugees". And as to the settlements those that are near the Line of Armistice from the 1949 Rhodes agreement should be absorbed into Israel. We could give some Arab Villages also on the armistice line such as Umm Al Fahm over to the Palestinian Authority in trade since they are so vocal in there displeasure of life in Israel.

So now what? We will have to wait for the next elections since it appears everyone here is simply tired of all the issues and all we Israelis really want is to live our lives in peace.

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