American (Jewish) Analysis of the Israeli Elections: One is Less Popular than The Other!

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The attire of hypocrisy reveals what it covers; if you wrap yourself with it, youd still be naked. [An 11th century Arab poet]

Most American politicians and Jewish leaders in the US maintain silence and neutrality, at least in public, vis–vis the Israeli election campaign and its prospective results. Perhaps thats due to their antipathy towards -and dissatisfaction with- both candidate; a feeling that is also shared by many Israelis. “In American political parlance,” as Professor Barry Robin says, both Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak “have high negatives.”

One of the most influential and older Jewish organizations in the US, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), discerns that Barak, on a personal level, has not succeeded in winning over the required majority, for he lacks the warmth or fervor, or that charismatic enigmatic character. He has not even been cheered for his success in withdrawing from Lebanon –a success diminished by unrest on the border. Furthermore, his ‘handling’ of the Palestinian Intifada has been intensely susceptible to opposition and skepticism, though some suspicions and condemnations have been unfair. On the political level, Barak has not been different from all the Prime Ministers before him: More presidential than his colleagues could put up with. According to Professor Rubin, an AJC consultant advisor on political and strategic affairs in Israel and the Middle East, Barak has not consulted his party, its Knesset delegation, or even fellow ministers. Besides, he has failed to build a coalition, and has barely survived thanks, mostly, to the hesitation of Shas to bring his government down.

If the impression of many Israelis and American Jews hold of Barak is negative and dismal, their impression of the other ‘general-politician’ is much worse. Many Jews in the US, including the Likudists, feel significantly disconcerted by Sharon, as he is considered too old [72] and too extremist. Contrary to the good-looking, eloquent Chicago boy with an American accent, Benjamin Netanyahu, Sharon is less capable of attracting Centrist voters, or stirring up the religious ones. The speedy way his Likud colleagues have forsaken him, once Netanyahus candidature has become likely, proves how apprehensive is the majority about Sharons leadership. In addition to all that, this Likudist has not presented “any persuasive answers to the existing problems.

Based on the above, it is strongly believed that many voters will cast their ballots to defeat one of the two candidatesmore than to beget the other’s victory. They will vote with what Rubin describes as “significant misgivings for the candidate they do support, even if they agree with his general political viewpoint.’

Blame the Palestinians!

Many US Jewish groups predict that Sharon is better ‘equipped’ to secure for his impending government a much stronger parliamentary support than the one Barak can secure if the latter is ‘miraculously’ elected on Tuesday. Sharon might also secure a significant majority if he wins the ‘blessings’ of Shas and its spiritual leader Ovadia Joseph, along with the expected support of the two other religious parties, and the main parties of the Russian immigrants. According to Professor Rubin, editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs, and a Jerusalem Post political analyst, Sharons government will not escalate the conflict with the Palestiniansthe way some in the international community believe. In his opinion, its almost certain that the Sharonian government will not send Israeli forces to PA-ruled districts. What is anticipated from such a government is its readiness for, or interest in, a prolonged war of attrion with the Palestinians, instead of thinking of any territorial ‘concessions.’

The world will perceive from the election of Sharon as Prime Minister a reason for the failure, or the thwarting, of the peace process. Meanwhile, Palestinians and the supporters of their legitimate rights see in electing Sharon the attestation that Israelis dont want peace. Many American Jews & Israelis, however, consider Sharons anticipated victory as the result –not the cause– of the peace process’s failure. This process has failed due to the Palestinian policy and behavior in three things, identified by AJC’s advisor as follows: Firstly, it is maintained that resorting to “massive violence since late September 200 has “[thrown] into question” the Palestinian commitment, or ability to be committed! Secondly, it is claimed that the inflexibility of the Palestinian bargaining position and the harshness of that side’s rhetoric [have created] serious doubts about its willingness to compromise in any way. Thirdly, it is alleged that the Palestinian rejection of Clintons very last proposal –subsequent to “the most painful and extensive Israeli concessions– has convinced many Israelis that it will not be possible to reach an agreement with Palestinians on anything close to approved conditions. The AJC advisor wraps up this part of an analytical study published on 01/21/00 by saying that these developments have changed the views of many Israelis, or possibly the majority of Israelis who “had always supported the peace process and were prepared to accept the painful and far-reaching concessions Barak proposed in Camp David or in his agreement to Clintons proposal. Due to these developments, “and only because of [them], it is possible that the majority of Israelis would elect Sharon as prime minister!

On the governmental and formal side in the US, the new administration is not expected to take any stance, or interfere in any way, to manipulate the course of Israeli elections, or to modify the current political setting. George W. Bush and his advisors and assistants have all felt the futility of the intense efforts exerted by the former administration during the past few months, and the degree of hopelessness and strain felt by Clinton after his failure in bringing about a peace agreement. It is clear from observing the administrative and political style of the new American president that the US ‘patronage’ of the haggard peace process will diminish to a noticeable extent –at least, in the near future– although the regional and Israeli security remains to be a high priority. Nothing will trigger Americans to hurry back into the picture, and to rejuvenate discussions about security conditions and economic aspects, in addition to international obligations, except an exhilarating intricate hard-to-imagine agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Israeli massacres and Palestinian tragedies continue..

Laundry Detergents and Arabia’s Perfumes

Several years ago, during the promising rounds of peace and the peak of excessive Arab optimism, I expressed an opinion that appeared to many as contradicting reality and swimming against the tide. Some scholarly political scientists have even gone to the extent of accusing me of being naive. I do repeat today what I have expressed then, and ever since in one form or the other, that no just, comprehensive, and permanent peace will be achieved, not even in a hundred years, until the emergence of a nation that is more superior to the US, or the fulfilment of many Jewish prophecies –yes, many Jewish prophecies– of Israel’s demise. For the great majority of Israelis, including the renegade doves, do not apparently want peace, but the subjugation or submission of the Palestinians. With few exceptions, those people have become –in the words of an Arab poet many centuries ago– “wolves in human clothes.”

Here they are today, ready to choose between the killer of children and the liquidator of refugees. Here they are today, like yesterday and tomorrow, selecting as leaders of their racist, spiteful entity one butcher after the other; their clothes dirtied with the grime of hatred, and their little hands stained with the blood of the innocent. Not all the detergents in the United States of America would ever be able to clean Ariel and Ehud, or their predecessors and succesers

And, as it has once been said in Macbeth, Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”

(Above article was translated by Elissar W. Haikal. It was originally written in Arabic and published in Lebanese Daily, As-Safeer.)

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