a different side of Israel

Tag: Meretz

Sixty Six Percent Support Jerusalem Building

This month’s War and Peace Index is out. Who wants to know what Israelis think now? Unfortunately, that’s almost impossible, since polls can only give indications of trends, and minds change so quickly that it may actually be a good thing that the government falls every two years. People need to keep reassessing their decisions and do some nice zigzagging.

War IndexAnyway, here’s what the War and Peace Index found. 66% of respondents believe that building should continue everywhere in Jerusalem, since Jewish sovereignty over the city is indisputable. Those who disapproved of this idea were primarily Labor and Meretz voters, who don’t make up much of the electorate any more these days.

This data could prove, as they say in the media every other day, to be a “stumbling block for the peace process,” as Mahmoud Abbas yesterday suddenly announced that he is no longer interested in East Jerusalem. He now, as reported by Israel Hayom newspaper, wants the whole thing. Oof. I don’t think giving up the Jewish quarter would be such a popular hit these days in Jewish circles. Maybe we should keep it after all.

In terms of Barack Obama, 46% see him as pro Arab, 31% as neutral, and a whopping 7% as pro Israel. Why don’t these things ever add up to 100%?

What about Operation Cast Lead? That’s a little more confusing, and I don’t really understand it. Apparently, 43% believe soldiers accounts of the war (that they didn’t intentionally shoot civilians and things like that), but 47% do not. However, 76% are of the opinion that no further investigation into the war is required.

Almost half thing that fishy stuff when on, but three quarters don’t want to investigate anymore? This sounds a bit strange. Perhaps there was a loaded or tilted question in there that people got confused about.

Opposition Reconstruction

These were strange elections. The “Right Block” (of political parties) and the “Center Block” have achieved a problematic tie, while the “Left Block” has been brutally crushed by its (lack of) voters.

Ehud Barak, a former Prime Minister, current Minister of Defense, and chairman of the Avoda (Israeli Labor Party), was the first party leader to carry a speech last night, soon after the exit polls were announced at 10pm. Among other things, in his “Defeat Speech” — as it was quickly declared by the news media — he warned that his party isn’t afraid of sitting in the opposition. Other prominent members of the Avoda are now echoing the same message. “We need to listen to our constituency, and to rebuild ourselves in the opposition”, they are saying.

A similar scenario is also taking place in Meretz, the socialist Left party, who now remains with merely 3 seats in the Knesset. (The Israeli parliament holds 120 seats). Zehava Gal-On, who apparently just lost her place in the Knesset, also wants to see her party “laying a new ideological foundation” in the opposition rows.

It seems that “sitting in the opposition” has become the preferred solution to any parliamentary decline. Indeed, the public gets weary of ruling parties more than he does of opposition parties. And it is much easier to keep your campaign promises when you are not confronted with the fierce pressures of the coalition, which sometimes demand very difficult compromises.

However, I do believe that any political party should at least attempt to enter the coalition, as long as it is able to maintain its core values and to deliver at least some of its promises. It’s all too “easy” to turn away from the heat.

Yes, some parties are too obsessed with being a part of the coalition, willing to sell away their constituency for an overpriced seat by the government table — yet others are all too shy of it. Remember that Change comes from within.

Reincarnation of Israeli Left?

It ain’t the first time Meretz seeks to change its name in an attempt to gain a broader public momentum.

In 2003 Meretz brought in Yossi Beilin and temporarily changed its name to Yachad. This was the year Yossi Sarid resigned from its chairman position in Meretz, and the year when Meretz initiated a self-inflicting coma.

Now, having survived 5 gloomy years, Meretz is trying to play the same card again — but this time, casting it in a different direction… ??

So many Israelis crave to see a government with a Socialist agenda. As we all know, Americans clearly chose the Socialist path when electing Barack Obama a month ago. And it’s high time that this small country would have a true Socialist alternative as well.

In 2003 Meretz largely abandoned its “social agenda” in favor of Beilin’s “peace agenda”. And as a result, a large percentage of their electorate eventually chose in 2006 to vote for Amir Peretz, who led an alleged Socialist agenda within the Israeli Labor Party.

Every big party, or any party that seeks to be a major force in Israeli politics, flirts with the center of the political map. Just as the Likud insists to call itself a “center-right party”, some people in Meretz are now claiming that Meretz is the “center-left alternative” — aiming to draw in voters from the Israeli Labor Party.

Personally, I think that’s a grave mistake. If Meretz wishes to be a valid option again, they should shift much of their focus to treat the many dire problems that taint our social fabric and our educational system. It doesn’t mean they have to abandon the desire for peace with the Palestinians, but it’s time to realize that in the name of either peace or security, we have abandoned the Israeli society for too long! Practically speaking, the Israeli public is simply unable to support any peace process with the Palestinians in its current state of social fragmentation, growing ignorance, and economical struggle. And if we must be realistic for a moment, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only widening as the years go by, and there is no chance of scoring a lasting solution in the next 4 years.

Long story short, I believe the folks at the Meretz headquarters start to realize where they have to turn next. And this is why we see people like Nitzan Horowitz and Dr. Avner Ben Zaken being invited to join the party. This is also why Ilan Gilon was voted into 1st place in the Meretz primary a few days ago.

If Meretz, led by Haim “Jumas” Oron, finds the courage to present itself as a “Social-Democratic Left”, it may see brighter days in the future.

Fanvids for the Municipal Elections

The Israeli municipal elections are taking place November 11. The race in Tel Aviv particularly is gathering much attention this year.

City for All is one party that is receiving a lot of publicity from supporting residents, whom you can see walk the streets wearing the party t-shirts. The blogosphere is also very abuzz with support for this specific party.

Another party who runs for city council is Meretz. It is a well-established leftist party, which has been around for much longer, and is holding a very similar agenda to City for All.

Ofer Fein and Eran Neufeld produced an amusing animated clip, which aims to make the point that Meretz is already fighting — and has been fighting for a long time — all the battles that several new niche parties are trying to claim for themselves.

The video features the voice of a clueless girl who doesn’t know which way to vote. She makes a list of all the issues that exist in the race (each issue with its own niche party): Housing and transportation, the environment, the gay community, animal welfare, Jaffa, young people’s rights, the elderly. Eventually, she realized Meretz has credentials for taking care of all these issues.

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