The new Israeli Prime Minister is.... is.... ???

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Jim Goldbloom
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The new Israeli Prime Minister is.... is.... ???

Post by Jim Goldbloom » Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:23 AM

Welcome to Family Feud, ladies and gentlemen!
This is your host, Richard Dawson and this week it's the Lukids vs. the Kadimas.


I've been following this election (seems in recent years elections everywhere are more exciting and full of turmoil than ever before, doesn't it?) and Israeli's clearly want a more militant party in charge, no matter the outcome. There seems to be a lot of rightist radicalism going on compared to policies regarding peace and tolerance as was common in the past few decades. Of course an assassination and a war here and there helped change hearts and minds, and I wonder how Obama and Great Britain's Brown will entertain such changes in terms of diplomacy and support.

Anyway, as Netanyahu and Livni battle it out let's be thankful the third place horse in this race, Lieberman, isn't in charge. He wants all the Arabs kicked out of Israel (20% of the population) even if he is willing to give up some of the Israeli land to establish a new Palestinian state, in exchange for West Bank territory. But he reminds me of another man who wanted to rid his nation of entire races under the guise of ultra-nationalism. Unfortunately, Lieberman has supporters that are important for the other candidates to call their own - even if it's dirty (Lieberman's secular and often disturbing views made one spiritual leader say, "anyone who supported Lieberman was 'helping Satan'.") Lieberman has much power to yield right now to affect the outcome, clearly.

This kinda makes Gore/Bush 2000 look tame in comparison, eh?

So who do you think will pull it off when it's all said and done in Isreal?

-jim
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Sat Feb 14, 2009 14:18 PM

Jim, I haven't had a clue but the Israeli president will ask one of the parties to try to form a collation government. Livni I think has one more seat than Likud but that does not mean with her relatively pacifist leanings she will be able to form a majority government. She will need one of the conservative parties to do so, so you are right: one way or the other the government will be more right wing.

What a shame because peace, always a distant hope, will just recede further.

Whoever wins don not expect Israel to do things that might lessen tensions, like stopping building settlements in East Jerusalem or the West Bank. The plan is to keep encroaching and creating facts on the ground.

I suspect this would not be too popular a view with you or Debby, but I am aghast by all of this. Israel is basically practicing Apartheid, which if you think about a racially Ethnic state is the way it has to be. Israel is about having a Jewish state, so kicking out Palestinians in Israel as some have suggested would be an open demonstration that Apartheid is what Israel is about. It is already being practiced on a less visible scale by making certain rights only available to Jews.

It's amazing that we were up in arms when whites did this to blacks in South Africa, but we give billions to Israel every year so the Jews in Israel can do it to the Palestinians. It stinks.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:05 AM

As of this writing, neither party has the 61 seats it takes, so we shall see. I was speaking of the shift on policy change that is inevitable, regardless of who is in charge, I found it interesting. On a small note, the Post labels Livni as a "centrist" which isn't pacifist (relatively or not). I would agree. And my question as to how this election might affect diplomacy with the US and our allies still stands.

I don't completely buy into the apartheid argument you raise, but I understand how that could be construed from the Arab point of view. Of course Israel has a legal right to the territory in question, and many peace plans offering land as part of concessions has failed because both sides have radical sects who want to rid the earth of each other, when you get down to the core of it all. So military responses are inevitable, and it's always in a war zone where tough laws to ensure the 20% stays within their boundry and the 80% within theirs are invoked, Mark - separatism is a security concern as much a cultural obscenity.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:56 AM

Jim, the situation is just as bad from the Arab perspective. Few of Israel's Arab neighbors with sort of the exceptions of Egypt and Jordan think Israel has a right to exist and many would be happy to kill every Jew in Israel if they had the chance. Little wonder then that Israel is pretty xenophobic on security given its neighbors. Unfortunately it just inflames those who want to do thinks like forcibly remove Israeli Palestinians from Israel so they can have an ethnically pure state.

I did see something resembling common sense from the Obama Administration today:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1064162.html
The Americans will demand that Israel avoid creating new facts on the ground that may burden achieving an agreement in the future. Toward this end, the U.S. administration is preparing to put heavy pressure on the new government to freeze all settlement construction and keep its promises to lift roadblocks. A freeze on settlement activity will be a higher priority than removing illegal outposts.

Measures the Obama administration is likely will be to cut the equivalent sum of the latest investments in settlements from the remaining budget for U.S. guaranteed loans, approximately $1.3 billion out of a total of $10 billion that the U.S. made available to Israel for it to absorb immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
This would be very welcome but I bet it gets Congress all up in arms, if true, because god forbid that we ever do anything that Israel doesn't like. But if they are going to keep following policies that simply exacerbate the situation and make peace less likely we sure as hell shouldn't be giving them money to do it.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:44 AM

I'm sick and tired of the skipping and dancing around the real issue - to finally mandate the new Palestinian state established on paper in 1988, although it is not independent nor sovereign as this time. Of course the problems and obstacles to accomplishing this are major - Hamas rules Gaza, Fatah rules the west bank, borders have not been established and change constantly due to the small wars between Israel and these factions.

The United States is doing all it can diplomatically to appease an important and strategic ally, Israel, and also not be undermined by factions. It's in our best interest to push both sides, as our official position is clear when we agreed to the Oslo accord and also UN Resolition 181 which helped establish borders now in dispute. The US is walking a hire wire act, in that sense. Throw in the PLO forcing some Isrealis to delay going to the peace table, then toss in the Road Map to peace penned by the United States to move some ass in the region, now stalled by the Civil war between Hamas and Fatah.

Isreal did a major push towards the road map by pulling out of Gaza in 2005, but as we all know, a few missiles here and there, a couple of suicide bombs and -- more delays.

The whole situation is mired in complexities, and my point in bringing all the history back into this is that the United States really has done all it can, and continues to do so, with one ultimate goal in mind - the establishment of a fully independent and sovereign Palestinian state. All the visits by envoys in the past and Obama/Clinton in the future will be encapsulated with that single goal in mind. This includes any demands made to our ally, Israel, intended to show good faith to the process and of course re-educate those in the region and possibly elsewhere that we're still a world leader with some sense of sanity left, Mark. This is the game and how its played.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Wed Feb 18, 2009 15:21 PM

Even if there were a Palestinian state there would be issues that would be irreconcilable. Jerusalem is one of them, repatriation another one, water rights (Israel takes 80% of the water because it can) and terrorism would remain because a small minority won't forget and will do their best to keep the whole bloody cycle continuing.

Reduce aid to Israel until they decide to get serious about the peace process would get their attention.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Sun Feb 22, 2009 16:04 PM

Weakening Israel in any way is weakening the United States in that region - that's bad diplomacy and a dangerous sentiment - even though it is what really needs to be done. Even terrorists might even raise an eyebrow at us doing that to those pesky Zionists. But dream on, it aint gonna happen publicly. We want Israel to join us at the peace table, don't we?

Back channel wise, interesting thought - but I suspect alot of that is going on already, as allies always bicker behind closed doors. I'm sure the road to peace was mapped mostly in this manner. And if we reduce aid, which is a sanction, it's only effective when the whole world knows about it.

I'd hold off on sanctions anyway until Netanyahu and Livni battle it out completely, i.e. the former might get 2 years and the latter 2 years according to one proposal by the current PM. Once we know who's in charge, it might work after all. But it looks like Netanyahu, the Hawk, will take control soon and that means Hamas and Hezbollah might be more than just pushed to a breaking point. Netanyahu is the kind of leader to do what needs to be done, and doing so will require help from the US and other allies who would sit idly by politically and let Israel do the job, with military and logistical aid, quite publicly known. I don't think even Obama would even mind, the problem all along has been having the spine to do the job right, i.e. Bush Sr. and Iraq. Netanyahu has the people behind him for the most part, which goes back to our earlier conversation. All the pieces seem to be falling into place for a prolonged war in that region. Clinton better stay in China for now! heh.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:06 PM

Weakening Israel would strategically be sound provided it led to concessions that might actually move the peace process forward. Providing it with unlimited aid so it can wage its wars without addressing the underlying issues solves nothing.

Netanyahu is likely to be the next prime minister and based on his actions last time he was PM, it bodes po0rly for the peace process. If he follows through on his actions expect a resumed war in the Gaza Strip and incursions into Lebanon to preempt Hezbollah. Of course this will really have the effect of inflaming passions on both sides, which keeps the whole thing going for another generation. Lovely.

Oh, and he is very concerned about Iran's nuclear capabilities. Expect a strike there too.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:54 AM

I'm all for peace when possible, but after Israel moved out of Gaza in 2005 which was a major move towards ending hostilities so how can you simply dismiss that from the conversation? What happened after that - more missiles and continuation of the building up of forces, and a refusal to sit down and talk seriously. When will the world learn Israel wants peace, Hamas and Hezbollah's militant factions want the death of all zionists and their religious capitol back, not just a new Palestine as a result of compromised land deals?

My point in my last reply was that Israel should probably return to war with a clear objective and the brakes removed. And with full backing of the United States and its allies, to force a return to the peace table for all parties involved. The other scenario, obliteration, is possible too. Maybe Netanyhu won't put the brakes on following the next major incursion - and if that also means bombing Iran about the nukes, we're not in new territory here, there is historical precedent. But all I know is Israel has not really tested Hamas, even as brutal as the last two wars have proven to be. You aint seen nothin', yet. Maybe when the real dogs of war come calling to Hamas, for example, they will realize as the rest of the world has that peace is a noble beginning after all. But, I doubt it and so should you.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:16 PM

Jim, I think that the notion that Israel can create the conditions for peace by waging war is stupid. It has never worked in the history of mankind. War tends to breed more war because those who are impacted by the war naturally want revenge. And so the cycle continues and gets worse over time. It was in part the oppression of Israel on the residents of the Gaza Strip, by blockading, tightening access, reducing medical supplies that drives hatred that keeps organizations like Hamas in power.

Israel wants peace on its own terms and is unwilling to compromise to make it happen. It wants to keep expanding Jewish settlements on land it occupies illegally, continue to take 80% of the water resources for the region, continue to place roadblocks to limit access on the West Bank and to not allow Jerusalem to be a co-capital of a Palestinian state. Peace is only possible if both sides back off a bit.

Syria is not occupying Galilee. Lebanon is not drawing most of Israel's water. Jordan is not occupying Jerusalem. Syria is not sending jets to bomb Israel nor is it blockading Israel's ports. Israel has the big club, aided and abetted by money from the United States. Without our support they would have to get realistic about having peace and actually making some compromises. The USA is aiding the process by talking out both sides of its mouth.

Fact: Jews represent a very small proportion of the people in the region. Palestinians outnumber them by a large number. They deserve a share of the land and resources proportional to their population and they deserve the lion's share rather than table scraps.

Groups like Hamas lose power when the animus that keeps them in control is taken away, like actual accommodation that addresses the needs and suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip. The tighter Israel tightens the screws, the longer they will be a powerful factor to be reckoned with, generation after generation.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:35 AM

Humans will always go to war, it is in our nature. But there have been periods of prolonged peace following major wars. Generations prosper as a result, even though the cycle continues -- indefinitely. You read what I wrote and only saw the part about the peace table, where my next sentence was quite clear - there's also a chance for obliteration of one side, and to the victor goes the spoils. This means a complete land incursion and overtaking of Hamas terrority, an overthrow of the Hamas political wing. How Hamas attained any power (as you noted) would be irrelevant at that point, a matter for history. Blunt, but true.

This is why Israel wants peace on its own terms - it "backed off" a bit in 2005, Hamas didn't and hasn't. It really is that simple, a failure of quid pro quo.

You see the suffering of the common Arab in the west bank and Isreali occupied territories -- and so do I. It is unavoidable. But this isn't a classic case of an oppressed people fighting for their existence via guerilla techniques. They voted for terrorists who wish to destroy Israel to lead them in a governmental role - and many Arabs in the region do NOT support firing missiles into southern Isreal. They are as much captors to their own government -- in the political sense. Isreal is within her rights to defend against missile attacks on innocent civilians, and has a right to result to war when the other side refuses to match the same type of effort as the 2005 withdraw.

Peace must be earned, otherwise it must be defended. Sound familiar? That's how you and I are able to type about it here in our homeland - we are both victors from important wars.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:36 PM

I suppose Israel could push all the Palestinians out of the Gaza strip and into Egypt and then occupy it like they have done the West Bank since 1967. I suspect if they do that their peace treaty with Egypt would be abrogated. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Like Palestinians forced out of Israel at its creation, they wouldn't take well to exile. No border is perfect. They would find way of infiltrating and causing harm one way or the other. In the long run this won't buy Israel any security.

Depending on how you look at the local population in Palestine, Palestinians and other Arabs outnumber Jews from anywhere from 2:1 to 10:1. In short the security problem cannot be solved by forcibly relocating people further and further from Israel. Jews are the minority in the region and always will be. This factor alone suggests that in the long term Israel cannot survive. Demographics are against it and it depends almost entirely on its survival on our financial backing and the limits of its army and air force. It does have a nuclear deterrent, but it is meaningless against non-national forces like Hezbollah and used too close to Israel simply puts their own citizenry in grave danger too.

Security comes not from a gun or a sword but through a process whereby moderate forces are brought up on both sides and both sides make the real accommodations that will make lasting peace. These are East Jerusalem as a Palestinian state capital, return of Israel to the Green Line and an end of the occupation of the West Bank. Some sort of compensation will be needed for those Palestinians who were forced to leave Israel, or to their families. Anything else is ultimately futile.
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