Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Just What We Needed - Lieberman in the Government

Olmert Moves to Include Liberman in his Government

Just what we needed. The government is running hard in order to avoid the appointment of an authentic Judicial Investigative Committee, i.e., one with wide powers. Our Prime Minister is busy preparing himself for investigations into his all “too-successful” real estate deals. His popularity rating hovers at a magnificent 7%. But Olmert keeps busy. He repeatedly insists on squashing any serious expression in his cabinet supporting negotiations with Syria. He and his party have succumbed to the settler right and scrapped all plans for any unilateral withdrawals. Moreover, it is clear to all that this government doesn’t have the slightest intention of taking down, even those settlements clearly defined as illegal by Israeli law. The sense is that the government is drifting without an agenda.

On the background of this semi-paralysis, and a government without an agenda, we had a visit last week from Ms. Rice, the architect of UN Resolution 1701. It is hard to identify any lasting results of her visit. It does seem that the Secretary of State of this tremendous world power “succeeded” in convincing the Olmert government to open one of the entry points in the Gaza strip for a number of hours per day for pedestrians and sick people…

No, we do not claim that Ms. Rice actually gave Olmert an order to open negotiations for the inclusion of the racist, ‘transferist’, Liberman in his government. We know that it doesn’t work like that. Even so, there is a connection between Rice’s visit and Olmert’s advances to Liberman. Rice explained to Olmert that Washington does have an “agenda” in the Middle East and that agenda includes a new round of hostilities. In these circumstances, the addition of a racist, crypto-fascist politician and his 11 MK faction to the government is “just what the doctor ordered.”
Liberman’s racist politics are well-known. His party’s “peace plan” is based on the unilateral annexation of vast stretches of the West Bank and the transfer of many Arab towns and villages out of Israel and into the imaginary “Arab state”, envisioned in Liberman’s plans.

Destroying Democracy in the Name of Democracy

The minute the news was out that there were serious talks between Olmert and Liberman, the country was inundated with new initiatives to “improve” Israeli democracy. Liberman, it appears, was working on an agreement with Olmert for restructuring the governmental and parliamentary system. Organizations and movements to save Israeli democracy appeared like mushrooms after the rain: university presidents and popular basketball coaches, the editors of Ha’aretz, MK’s Shimon Peres, Hertzog and other remnants of Ben Gurions right- wing RAFI faction in Labor, MK’s from the Likud and last, but not least, President Katsav (who managed to take time off from his current troubles of being under suspicion for sexual harassment/rape). Everybody was running like mad to save Israeli democracy. You read the recommendations and immediately recognize the spoiled merchandise. It is “alte zakhen” in every sense. For example, “strengthening the Prime Minister” by releasing him from dependency on a parliamentary majority. For example, restricting the powers of the Knesset and distorting the will of the electorate by changes in the proportional representation system and forcing the public into a two-party model of government. Now since we do not currently have any “general on a white horse,” the establishment dispatches us to the United States in order to discover democratic foundations in and around the presidency of George W. Bush.

This Israel, in the interval “between two wars”, is not in the mood to countenance any internal opposition. The government wants to take early steps warning the Arab population and designed to ensure its passivity. The Israeli government is demanding that the Palestinian Arab population and its democratic allies in the country restrain themselves and demonstrate by their silence, tacit acquiescence to Israeli actions on behalf of Bush’s plans in the region.

The present contacts with Liberman are actually a racist demonstration against the Palestinian Arabs in Israel – and preparation for the approaching war. You have to rub your eyes. The very same Israel which claims, at least formally, that it wants dialogue and understanding with the Arab world, is considering including in the government, in a central role, an avowed racist who supports the expulsion of Palestinian Israeli citizens from their homeland.

Get this. A political movement based on new immigrants who have recently come to this country, and who call their movement “Israel Beytanu” (Israel is our Home) has the nerve to spread poisonous propaganda that this country is not the country of a million and a half Palestinians who have lived here from time and eternity. “Israel Beytanu” is not a legitimate political formation but a walking provocation which has no place in a genuine democracy.

In today’s news, we are informed, once again, that Olmert is most serious about adding new partners to the coalition and he is determined to reform the political system. It is still possible that coalition complexities will keep Liberman out this time. Meanwhile, he has been showered with compliments portraying him as a serious politician. The fact that the efforts to bring Liberman into the government are accompanied by intensive lobbying aimed at the destruction of the foundations of Israeli democracy is certainly not accidental.