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As Israelis fight to claim victory, the peace process takes its final gasps
By Ray Hanania — Why am I not surprised that both the leader on the left and the leader on the right have claimed victory in Israel’s elections this week? Tzipi Livni Israeli Foreign Minister and head of the Kadima Party, a more conservative version of the old Labor Party, claimed a mandate from Israeli voters, while her chief rival Benjamin Netanyahu, a frightening extremist, claimed victory, too.
Well these days in Israel, where spin means more than truth, two blurry election victories means one giant peace loss for the Middle East.
Although everyone hoped that Israeli voters would embrace the road to peace, the vote totals show that the road is unpaved, filled with potholes and probably not navigable for anyone hoping to end the violence any time soon.
Livni got what she wanted, proving once again that a woman can “win” but her election victory which gave her one more seat than Netanyahu’s extremist Likud Party in the Israeli Parliament makes her much like George Bush whose first election was marred by serious questions over whether or not he really won.
Netanyahu, whom Israelis insist till their faces turn red supports the two-state solution, is openly hostile to peace and especially to peace with the Palestinians. In fact, he is openly against the formation of a Palestinian State.
In his long bloodied track record in office, Netanyahu has reigned over the repeated failure of the peace process, helping to bring it down in 1996, following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by one of his admirers, and in 2000 provoking with the help of ultra-extremist colleague Ariel Sharon.
And while Livni appears to have “won” the most votes – let’s just call them “chads” – it’s Netanyahu who has the best chance of taking over the government and providing a real reason for why peace will collapse, again.
If you analyze the elections based on individuals and their parties, Livni is the winner. But in Israel’s twisted Democracy, that’s not good enough to become the leader. The real balance rests between the moderates or the so-called “Left” and the extremists on the increasingly “far right.”
And Netanyahu isn’t even the worst of the worst on the far right that he now heads. In this past election, the far right parties, combined, won a majority of seats. Netanyahu can easily form a government by partnering with Israel’s fast rising star, Avigdor Lieberman, the new face of Israel’s ultra-fanatic populace. A former night club bouncer who could easily play the Hollywood role of a Soviet Mafia leader, has called for the killing of Arabs who sit in Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, and believes Arabs – Christians and Muslims — should be forcibly removed from Israel to live someplace else. His political party is called Yisrael Beitenu, or “Israel My Home,” which could also mean in Arabic “Not Yours.”
Lieberman, typical of the Russian Jewish immigrants who are drowning Israel’s pluralistic society, is a hard line nut case. You could compare him to Iran’s Ahmadinejad, but not even Ahmadinejad is as bad as Lieberman.
So what happened to the super hero of the Peace Process, Rabin’s old “Labor Party?”
It has two problems. The first, of course, is the stupidity of the Palestinians in Israel who like their brethren in the brutally occupied West Bank and massacre-strewn Gaza Strip, can’t get a grip on escaping their own emotions, frustrations and hate.
Rather than try to swing the elections to the left, which they could do since they represent a sizable voting population, prefer to boycott the elections because they would prefer to have nothing than a compromise on something. It’s the cultural way of the Arab World. All or nothing. They end up always with nothing.
But then they are helped by their allies, the Israeli “Left.”
The left is led by the Labor Party and that is headed by Ehud Barak, the former assassin who dressed as a woman to murder Palestinian critics of Israel’s government in Lebanon. It was Barak who deserves the collar for destroying not only the peace process but for undermining Labor. Barak, no relation to American President Barack Obama, made a critical choice in 2000 that turned the hopes for peace on its head when he refused to meet face-to-face with Palestinian Leader Yasir Arafat during peace talks, and instead used his friend Dennis Ross, President Clinton’s openly Zionist “liaison” to try to corner Arafat and force the Palestinians to accept a weak agreement.
Barack torpedoed the Camp David peace negotiations and tried to use his intractable refusal to compromise with Arafat as a badge of courage, spinning the lies that provoked the 2nd Intidafa claiming it was Arafat who refused peace to gain Israeli voter sympathy when it fact it was him who refused compromise.
Barak lost the election to Netanyahu’s pal, Sharon, who is as stubborn in death as he was in peace. Netanyahu and Sharon used the victory to carve a head stone for the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process that is still used as the forum from which Israeli candidates campaign.
In fact, when you look at the history of Israel since Barak destroyed the peace process and started one of the most vicious and violent periods in Palestinian-Israeli relations that continues through today, it has been his Labor Party and the Israeli “Left” that have done the most to destroy peace.
It’s a strange but common belief among the “Left” that the best way to win peace is not through honest negotiations and fair compromise, but rather through intimidation, threats, pretending to be tough, occupation, violence and doubletalk on the confiscation of Palestinian lands and expansion of illegal settlements.
While Labor has been lying through its eroded teeth, Netanyahu and the fanatics have been the only honest ones left in Israel who are willing to say flat out, they reject real compromise with the Palestinians and believe conflict and violence are the only real paths for the future.
And there was nothing in Israel’s recent vote that says the Israeli public disagrees.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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