Sayed Kashua in Demand, Israeli Press in Purgatory

Israeli Arabs have never been so in demand, and they have the strong showing of the hard-line anti-Arab Yisrael Beiteinu party to thank. This is the thesis of the novelist and satiric columnist Sayed Kashua in Haaretz. Kashua, one of the country’s best-known Israeli Arab writers, has a knack of giving a great insight in to the complexities of Israeli-Arab identity, which he alludes to so entertainingly this essay.

Late last week when President Shimon Peres chose Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu to form the new government, every Israeli, whatever their political opinions, had reason to celebrate.

This is no endorsement of the hawkish Likud party. Rather, it is a simple observation that in the days between the election and Peres’ decision, newspapers here became as dull as dishwater.

For almost a fortnight, newspapers had nothing to say, except to speculate which party’s leader various factions would recommend to Peres. And it was hardly rocket science to predict that the right-wing parties, a majority, would endorse the right-wing option, Netanyahu.

There was even detailed coverage of Kadima going to tell Peres whom it favored for Prime Minister (amazingly its own Livni) and Likud going to make its nomination (yes, Netanyahu).

Every month, Tel Aviv University pollsters gauge Israeli public opinion. Here are the numbers, just in, from their latest poll:

• 17% of people are happy with the election results and 43% are disappointed.
• 90% of people would vote the same way if given the chance to vote again.
• Kadima is more popular than Likud, like it was in the election. If polls were held again, 30% of people would vote Kadima and 27% would vote Likud.
• Regarding their preference for Prime Minister, 37.5% of people want Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and 37.6% want Kadima leader Tzipi Livni.
• 36% of people want a unity government of Likud, Kadima and Labor. 22% want a Likud-led rightist coalition and 16% want a coalition of Likud, Kadima and Yisrael Beitenu.
• Some 77% of people think that the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit should be a prerequisite to any Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement.
• A third of people are content with the results of the recent Gaza operation (Operation Cast Lead); 36% are disappointed.

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Sayed Kashua in Demand, Israeli Press in Purgatory

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