Lieberman is not a passing phenomenon. He represents the integration into Israeli politics of the million immigrants from the former Soviet Union. These new immigrants have displaced the old Labour party, once the elite of the country and the so-called party of peace. In every Labour voter there was a sepia-tinted memory of a kibbutznik taking his horse to be shod in an Arab village. If this fantasy of Jewish-Arab co-operation was ever true, it stopped being so in the 1920s. But the Labour party has always felt that somehow the Arabs can be forced to love, or just get along with, Zionism – a viewpoint which used to sell easily in Europe and the US, even if it never corresponded with facts on the ground.
The Russian-speaking immigrants have no truck with such illusions. They came in waves in the 1970s, believing they were coming to a “civilised, European” country. They found that one fifth of the population of Israel was of Arab origin. And worse, they found that they were looked down on as accidental immigrants, who came to Israel only because they could not get to America. “Russian” became a term of abuse, for someone whose goal was to dump granny on the Israeli welfare state and head off to New York.
With Lieberman the immigrants have got their revenge. The Labour elite is crushed. Lieberman’s discourse derives not from the early years of Zionism but from the Leninist thinking of the old USSR, where any negotiation was a zero-sum game, with one clear winner and one outright loser. For Lieberman, it is not enough that Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel; the head of state must come and pay regular visits to the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. It is not enough that the vast majority of Israeli Arabs live peaceful and productive lives despite widespread discrimination; they must sign up to the ideals of the Zionist state or lose their citizenship. [continued…]
After negotiations over the release of the Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit and between 325-450 Palestinians went sour, Israeli forces in the West Bank moved to “arrest” 10 Hamas leaders.
Although the New York Times used the more dignified term “arrest,” it seems a lot more like hostage-taking. I guess democracies like Israel are different than groups like Hamas. They arrest people then use them as political chips, whereas terrorists kidnap people than use them as political chips.
The IDF did not comment on the actual intents, but the timing says it all.
Among the ten Hamas members Israel nabbed are four parliamentarians. Israel has imprisoned around 40 Hamas legislators since Corporal Shalit’s capture in June 2006; many of them remain in jail. You think this habit will disappear if Palestinians are granted a state by Israel? Ha! [continued…]
Among those arrested was Nasser Eddin al-Shaer, an academic from Nablus in the West Bank. Mr. Shaer served as education minister and deputy prime minister in the Hamas-led government that was formed after the Islamist group won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.
His wife, Huda al-Shaer, said that soldiers arrived at their Nablus home around 2 a.m. and stayed for about an hour before taking Mr. Shaer away. Speaking by telephone, Ms. Shaer said she had asked the soldiers why he was being arrested, “but they told me it was not my business.” [continued…]
Israeli troops abducted deputy Palestinian prime minister and senior Hamas member Nasser Eddin Al Shaer Saturday, in the latest move against the governing Islamist movement.
Israel has detained more than 60 Hamas officials since the June 25 capture of an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas-led government condemned the new arrest as an attempt to destroy the Palestinian administration. “At 4:30 (0130 GMT) in the morning the soldiers came to our house and took Nasser,” Shaer’s wife Huda said. [continued…]
The foreign minister of Israel’s incoming government lives in a West Bank settlement and will begin life as a diplomat battling the perception that he is anti-Arab.
A leading contender to become defense minister once characterized the two-state solution that forms the basis of U.S. and international policy toward Israel and the Palestinians as “a story the Western world tells with Western eyes.” And the potential make-or-break votes in the country’s new parliamentary coalition belong to legislators from religious parties that would like to expand settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
Israel’s next government seems tailor-made for conflict with an administration in Washington that supports a Palestinian state and is expected to push for progress on drawing its borders. Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu is himself a skeptic when it comes to Palestinian statehood and has referred to U.S.-backed peace talks as a waste of time. [continued…]