Monday, October 29, 2012

Jeff Barak's Commentary

Alongside its nationalistic, territorial expansionist ethos, the Likud also has a strong vein of western democratic liberalism running through its body, as best represented by politicians such as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and ministers Bennie Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, a group sarcastically derided as feinschmeckers (a Yiddish term for those with over-refined tastes) by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.
While Rivlin, Begin et al firmly believe in Israel’s rights to settle in Judea and Samaria, they also believe that Israel’s Arab population should be treated as full citizens, enjoying the same civil rights as the Jewish majority. In this, they faithfully follow the dictates of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist Zionist movement, the ideological precursor to the Likud.
In 1934, Jabotinsky wrote a draft constitution for the Jewish state which declared that the Arab minority would be on an equal footing with its Jewish counterpart “throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.” He also proposed that in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership should be offered to an Arab and vice versa.
Yisrael Beytenu’s leadership, on the other hand, prefers to view Israeli Arabs as a dangerous fifth column, to be treated with the utmost suspicion and, if possible, removed from the country in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians as part of a population exchange.
One wonders whether Jabotinsky, were he alive today, would make it on the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu slate the prime minister is so eager to create.

His message:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will ask his party to jettison its proud liberal-democratic heritage

I am always amazed how commentators assume they know what their subjects are not only doing but what they are thinking.

First of all, I am pretty sure that Barak really doesn't believe that Likud is liberal-democratic.  I am pretty sure he doesn't even like the Likud.  But, liking Netanyahu even less, he'll pose the Likud as a pretty party.

Second, what ever happened to Menachem Begin?  Wasn't her somewhere between Jabotinsky and Netanyahu?  Wasn't he someone that made a major contribution to the democratic character of Israel's political life?

Third, it was Begin who reached out to the Liberals, a part of the General Zionists, already in 1955 and by 1965 had created the Gahal Bloc.  In doing so, he brought Herut closer to the political center and also had the Liberals adopt a more nationalist stand.  Could this be happening today?  That Yisrael Beiteinu could be influenced to adopt a more conciliatory attitude?  Why is the message that this is only a one-way issue?

Fourth, is Barak representing the Yisrael Beiteinu in a faithful fashion?  If you want, you can check their website on their allegiance plank.  And all the other issues.  As reported in...Haaretz.

Here is another item taken from an extreme left-wing site:

In 2004, Lieberman told the Knesset he is “definitely speaking of exchanging populations and territory simultaneously, because there is no other solution” [that's from Gershom Gorenberg] Lieberman’s plan rests on his conviction that two ethnic, linguistic or religious communities in conflict cannot co-exist peacefully within the same state.  The party’s website states: “the only possible solution is the exchange of territory and populations, with the goal of the separation of the Jewish and Arab nations, respectively. Only this solution can guarantee the Jewish character of the State, assure a clear Jewish majority in the short and long term, safeguard the security of our citizens, and encourage economic growth.”  
Does that sound like what the United States, UN and the EU wants to do to the Jews of Yesha?  So, is it a bad or good policy?

Political commentary.

Oh, as for whether Jabotinsky would be included in the new joint list, would he make it or wish to be?

Irrelevant, actually. While his principles remain strong and relevant, the Arabs have proven quite different from those Jabotinsly knew and expected he could work with.

It's not a Jewish problem.  It's an Arab one.


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