A Golden Opportunity for Livni

By Niv Elis It’s not clear why the Israeli left has shied away from putting economic arguments for peace front and center.  But the recent explosion of economically driven populist angst may change all that. For nearly two weeks, Israeli citizens have protested en masse in the streets of Tel Aviv, building tent cities along its main drag, Rothschild Boulevard, and across the country.   Though popular disaffection with consumer prices, particularly housing, are at the heart of the the protests, growing economic inequality (persistent through strong general growth) and the neighboring protests of the Arab spring have fueled them.  Because the protests represent a significant challenge for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his economic policies, they also provides an opportunity for the opposition leader, Tzipi Livni. Sitting atop the largest party in the Knesset, which was thrust into...

Continue reading

Israeli Elections Today–Who Would You Vote For?

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler Israel votes for a new leader today. A super duper quick review: Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and his Likud party still lead in the most recent polls, but Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima can catch him. Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor), who was running third for most of the race, has fallen into fourth behind nationalist Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu (whom we wrote about last week). Because Netanyahu's strongest campaign point has been a call for aggressive national defense, the emergence of the hawkish Lieberman threatens to take just enough votes to give the election to Livni. ITM readers, we at Moment are curious: Who would you vote for in today's election?

Continue reading

Avigdor Lieberman: Israel's Le Pen

By Jeremy Gillick Two years ago, Ha'aretz correspondent Lily Galili profiled the right wing Israeli politician and founder of the Yisrael Beiteinu ("Israel is our Home") Party, Avigdor Lieberman, for Moment. Having served as Transportation Minister under Ariel Sharon, and having subsequently been fired in 2004 for opposing the withdrawal from Gaza, Lieberman "re-emerged," Galili wrote in early 2007, "as a strange hybrid of an Israeli version of Jean-Marie Le Pen (the infamous French extreme right-winger) and respectable statesman." Indeed, it was recently revealed that Lieberman was at one point a member of Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach Party, which was banned from Israeli elections in the late 1980s for inciting racism against Arabs. Now, with Israeli elections just days away, Lieberman and his nationalist party are poised to make huge gains. Polls indicate that Yisrael Beitenu could win...

Continue reading

Of Politics and Water

Senior Editor Mandy Katz reports from Israel... A water crisis notwithstanding, tourists are having fun up here in the Kineret, Israel's name for the Sea of Galilee and its environs. While they might shake their heads at super-long "beaches" where the inland sea once lapped, and might fret over the much more worrisome possibility of pumps' going dry, they don't seem particularly concerned about the impending national elections. Not all tourists here can vote, of course, as they're a multinational lot. In the national parks, you do hear a lot of Hebrew, as in the verdant spring-fed pools of Tel Dan. The tamer "Gan Yardan" (or Jordan River Garden) park also centers on flowing water, but diverted into masonry channels and pools; around shaded picnic tables, sometimes set right in the shallow streams, multi-generational Arab clans with...

Continue reading