Friday, May 11, 2012

Israel Takes A Giant Step Towards Political Stability – Finally Some Good Political News

Radical Right Government May Become Center/Right Government

One of the perverse aspects of multi-party democracies is that the more fractured the political landscape, the more powerful are the small minority parties. Nowhere is this principle better illustrated than Israel.  The state is so divided that in order to put together a functioning government the leading party, Likud, must bring into the government radical parties of the right.  And because these very small parties can bring down the government at a moments notice, they have power and influence far greater than their numbers would justify.

But now the Kadima party, a more moderate party that has been out of the government has agreed to join Likud and form a broadly based coalition government.

Mr. Netanyahu - Taking a Bold Step for Israel
According to the three-page agreement that Mr. Netanyahu and the opposition leader, Shaul Mofaz, signed after midnight, Mr. Mofaz will become a deputy prime minister, standing in for Mr. Netanyahu when he is abroad and joining all closed sessions of the cabinet that “deal with security, diplomatic, economic and social issues.”

And for once the spin that politicians put on an event is not spin but a fairly accurate description of the potential importance of the event.

At a noon news conference in the Negev Hall at the Parliament building, both men looked exhausted from a night of negotiations as they stood side by side and hailed what they described as a historic agreement. “The state of Israel needs stability,” said Mr. Netanyahu, his voice slightly hoarse. The new coalition, he said, is “good for the security of Israel, good for the economy of Israel, good for the society of Israel and good for the people of Israel.”

We use the word ‘potential’ because the new coalition allows the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu the jettison his far right partners, and to jettison much of the divisive and unfair concessions that have divided the country given to those partners.  If the Prime Minister follows through, it will be like a 'Nixon to China' event for Israel, and that is a good thing.

The largest domestic issue is allowing Orthodox Jews to avoid military service.

A main drive behind the deal is the necessity of replacing a law expiring Aug. 1 that has exempted many religious Jews from military service. Mr. Netanyahu’s prior coalition of religious and conservative parties had been divided over how to proceed, and he had said in a speech to his right-leaning Likud Party on Sunday night that he wanted early elections to avoid the instability of a campaign atmosphere stretching over more than a year.

Like fundamentalists of all religions, the Orthodox Jews in Israel have argued for special privileges and have sought to impose their view of how lives should be lead onto those who do not share their beliefs.  The idea that others should be free to lead their lives as they see fit, the same way that the fundamentalists want to lead their own lives as they see fit is an alien concept to them.  But if they prevail then the nation of Israel becomes little different than the intolerant theocracies when Islamic fundamentalists rule.

In fact, given the similarity of the concepts of Orthodox Jews and Islamic fundamentalists a Jewish state dominated and controlled by the Orthodox would look very much like, oh, Saudi Arabia.   That what not the goal of the brave and farsighted Zionists who are responsible for the existence of Israel.

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