Watching as Israel's Election Approaches

How Netanyahu's Reelection Contest Will Affect American Jews

Lunging Right: What should American Jews think about Israel’s new direction?
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Lunging Right: What should American Jews think about Israel’s new direction?

By Jay Michaelson

Published January 04, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
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Having finally come to the end of a grueling election season in the United States, American Jews — certainly this one included — could be forgiven for wanting to take a long break from electoral politics. Yet those of us invested in the Israeli future, with friends and family living in cities recently targeted by Hamas attacks, well know that another important Jewish election looms on the horizon: the Israeli elections, called by Israel’s right/far-right governing coalition, currently ahead in all the polls.

From our perch in America, those of us without Israeli citizenship are relegated to the passive role of spectators and occasional commentators. Yet this election is nonetheless a defining moment, not only for Israel but for the American Jewish community as well.

Why? Because of three new developments — the new Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu political list, the E1 construction plan and the gradual coming-out of the Israeli right-wing narrative regarding the Palestinian issue, together with Palestine’s statehood status ­— have changed the game forAmerican Jews. We now know that the ruling parties in Israel are not interested in a peace agreement with the Palestinians or in a two-state solution to this crisis, and that they believe a long, protracted conflict is inevitable. Thus, we can no longer pretend all of “us” want to make peace. “We” don’t — some of us believe that the best we can hope for is a managed occupation.

Although such a position is eminently reasonable and defensible, the reason that its partisans don’t admit that they hold it is obvious: Europe, the United States and the rest of the civilized world do not agree. They believe that the current situation, in which 2.5 million Palestinians don’t have the right to vote and aren’t citizens of the country that rules over them, is unacceptable. To say it offends democratic values is an understatement. So, for more than 40 years, the public discourse — duplicitous as it may be — has been that there must be a solution to this crisis that involves these 2.5 million people having the same basic democratic rights as everyone else in the Western world.

The truth, however, is turning out to be quite different from the rhetoric.


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