Israel: Heaven for Political Comebacks

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Israeli Leaders.jpg
This is a guest post for The Washington Note by Tal Schneider, Washington DC Correspondent for the Israel daily newspaper Maariv.
There is an ever clearer, consistent political trend in Israel: prime ministers go through a decade long ritual of rising to the top, failing miserably and then climbing slowly up for a second chance given by the Israeli voters.
It might be too soon to tell, but Binyamin Netanyahu (Bibi) appears on the verge of being reelected this week.
Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak — all tried (and are still trying) to get a second flight as prime minister.
Rabin and Sharon made fabulous comebacks, intellectually and politically matured in their later terms only to depart the world stage at the height of popularity in tragic endings. Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish opponent to the peace process on Nov 1995 while Ariel Sharon suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke a few months following his bold evacuation of Gaza. Sharon has not waken from his debilitating coma since January 2006.
Will Bibi’s second round be more successful than the first?
Ehud Barak, whose first term as Prime Minister ended just 20 months after he swept the polls in 1999, has been trying to make a comeback since then. No luck for him yet.
Tzipi Livni, the youngest of possible nominees (50 years old) probably still has to go through proverbial political hell. If she will be elected (the latest polls showed she was closing in on Bibi) we can foresee from historical patterns a short, disastrous term, followed by predictable public bashing after which she will enter the comeback-club, and be entitled for a fresh start.
Perhaps following Israel’s rise-and-fall-and-rise rule, incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is off to the political desert (on corruption charges) just for a while. The Israeli public will no doubt forgive him, miss him, and want him back soon enough.
Why are the Israeli voters so indecisive? Why crown a leader and hurry to dump him (or her)?
How can one explain common enthusiasm in watching a leader fall only to embrace him back with the “he learned his lessons and changed so much” spin?
Ariel Sharon’s comeback was the most dramatic of all. In his first ascendancy, he was “just” a Defense Minister that had practically usurped the political helm and led the country to the first Lebanon War. After he was declared “unfit for command” by a judicial committee investigating the war, Sharon was banned from the political scene.
Nobody touched Sharon or associated with him. He spent almost two decades in solitary wandering in political wilderness. When he started to plan his comeback, people defensively declared that they would leave the country if he was elected.
Well, no one left the country when Sharon won a landslide victory in 2001. He became immensely popular according to public polls — and it seemed as if his war-related wrongdoing had become both insignificant and perhaps even part of his mystique.
As sociopathic as it may seem, Israel’s citizens may need to feel loathing for their leader before making them Kosher once again, and then pining for their return.
Bibi has been there, done that. He is ready to be back and the public may be ready for that as well.
During the campaign, Bibi made conspicuous efforts to dial down the extreme and the obstreperous, making sure the Israeli public got the message: he is not the same Bibi from 1996.
Netanyahu did not pop-up in front of TV cameras recklessly and remained largely silent though supportive of Israel’s offensive during the Gaza war, as if being ‘apolitical’ now equals Bibi.
But can Bibi “B” (meaning the second Bibi) deliver on his implied promise of change to Israel’s fickle crowd? Has he matured? Can he make sound decisions on Israel’s security and stir the country towards calm and long term stability in the region?
The answer will be evident soon.
— Tal Schneider

Comments

23 comments on “Israel: Heaven for Political Comebacks

  1. JohnH says:

    I agree that the Lobby’s hold is too strong to change American policy regardless of who is elected or how inhumanely they behave.
    My position is that the policies of Bibi, Livni, and Barak are essentially the same. The brutality of the attack on Gaza convinced me of that. In the best case, Livni and Barak might move a little more slowly in dispossessing the Palestinians of what little they have left.
    So the essential difference really boils down to maintaining the masquerade, which Livni and Barak are more likely to do. Of course, as I said, Bibi is more likely to downplay the masquerade and try instead to make the unthinkable acceptable. And the US Congress will likely show whole hearted support for whatever odious actions any of them dream up. But at least with Bibi the true, reprehensible nature of the Israeli government will become undeniable to any informed observer. At this point this is about the best we can hope for.

    Reply

  2. Dan Kervick says:

    I like Gideon Levy, but I think he is guilty of the same wishful thinking and misapprehensions about US political culture that Steve shows in his post. Levy says:
    “Netanyahu would offer something else. First, he is a faithful representative of an authentic “Israeli” view – an almost complete distrust of Arabs and the chance of reaching peace with them, mixed with condescension and dehumanization. Second, he will finally arouse the world’s rage towards us, including that of the new U.S. administration. Sadly, this may be the only chance for the kind of dramatic change that is needed.”
    I see no evidence that the election of our old friend “Bibi” will arouse any significant degree of US rage toward Israel.
    Even the far rightists remain confident of American support. Danny Ayalon, who tried to help defeat Obama during the nomination battle, now thinks Obama can be reasoned into supporting the Yisrael Beiteinu plan, because Obama is a creative “outside the box” thinker. Ayalon was Sharon’s ambassador to the US, and is now a member of Yisrael Beiteinu himslef.
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1228728211403&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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  3. JohnH says:

    Gideon Levy has endorsed Netanyahu, not because he has changed, but because his election will bring clarity to Israel’s true policies: “Netanyahu’s election will free Israel from the burden of deception: If he can establish a right-wing government, the veil will be lifted and the nation’s true face revealed to its citizens and the rest of the world, including Arab countries. Together with the world, we will see which direction we are facing and who we really are. The masquerade that has gone on for several years will finally come to an end.”
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1061736.html
    After Netanyahu, it will be hard to deny Carter’s remark about apartheid any longer. Only problem is that Netanyahu speaks English well and will probably chum the media into making the unthinkable into the acceptable…

    Reply

  4. Dan Kervick says:

    Sorry I overlooked it DonS!

    Reply

  5. DonS says:

    Tai, I hope your analysis is right about second timers moving toward peace. Will you be publishing a similar story in your paper (I see its only in Hebrew so I can’t verify!). Do you find yourself interpolating the various currents of American (and other) feeling towards Israeli behavior to your readership? Or do you mostly reort on “official positions”.
    My cousin was at MIT with Netanyahu. My cousin tends towards the abrassive. Ergo he and Bibi got along famously. (Actually I’m makiing up the ‘famously’ part — I haven’t asked — but not the part about abrassiveness).
    Dan K, you must have missed my comment on the Biden speech. It went something like “blah, blah, blah”.

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  6. jonst says:

    I don’t mean this to come off as sarcastic as it may read….but when I first read this I sincerely thought it was a spoof. Sorta TWN does SNL If EVER a guy was living embodiment of the old saying, ‘they return’ “having learned nothing and forgotten nothing” it is Netanyahu, and his bunch.

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  7. Dan Kervick says:

    Tal Schneider,
    What post is Lieberman going to get in the new government?

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    Tal Schneider,
    thanks for your answer! Yeah, the tone and criticism here can be
    a bit rough at times…good to see that this didn`t discourage you.
    However, the possible outcomes of the Israeli election are very
    discouraging, as I see it. I don´t know which option is worst:
    Lieberman as minister in the government or as leader of the
    Oposition…

    Reply

  9. Tal Schneider says:

    Dear Washington Note commentators
    Thank you for reading. I enjoyed your keenness.
    I think that Bibi is fully aware for his grave
    mistakes on the first round. Specifically
    regarding US-Israel relationship.
    I don’t know how he will conduct himself from now
    on.
    I met him couple times in the last couple of years
    while he was making rounds in DC. He seemed to be
    still the same arrogant Bibi, however, weighing
    his words more carefully. I never supported him
    (and must say I’m a little flabbergasted by the
    fact that some read this post as favoring him)
    To Paul Norheim: Lieberman is more troubling than
    Kahna, as the later was a marginal phenomenon. It
    was disappointing to see a distinguished former
    Ambassador to the US (Danny Ayalon) functioning as
    a major force in legitimizing Lieberman. (He got #
    7 in return).
    Maybe the pollsters are wrong?
    If they are accurate, Bibi or Livni might form a
    coalition with each other + Labor party (Barak).
    After all, Barak has shifted the Labor party to
    the right and he really wants to hold his title
    (Defense Minister). With such a peculiar outcome,
    Lieberman might get a different status: Leader of
    the Opposition, an important status in Israel,
    which unfortunately may strengthen him further.
    To DonS: Both Rabin and Sharon were willing to
    move on with the Peace Process in their second
    round. In spite the wry way in which the Gaza
    evacuation was conducted, it was bold for Sharon
    (if you consider his past). Again, I do not know
    what Bibi will do. But any PM wants to make
    impression, especially on the second round.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    The change we certainly will see from Obama is a demand of
    more troops and military equipment from Europe to Afghanistan,
    but this we`ve known for some time.
    If “natural growth” of West Bank settlements represents change,
    well then we`ll see some change from the now matured “Bibi B”
    as well.
    And the openly racist voice of Avigdor Lieberman will probably
    become a permanent part of the political discourse in Israel. Oh, I
    bet we`ll see plenty of change.
    Anyone who still think that Carter`s apartheid remark was anti-
    semitic?

    Reply

  11. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s interesting that nobody has commented on Joe Biden’s crappy speech at the Munich security conference on Saturday. It was billed as something we were all supposed to pay attention to, but seems to have landed with a thud in the face of either dismayed silence or complacency.
    So far, it looks like “change” only means we are getting all the old Bush policies, but with a change in “tone”. I’m hoping that the problem is that the administration has just been so busy with the stimulus package that they haven’t had time to do any serious thinking on foreign policy. Maybe they told Joe to just go to Munich and tread water, ‘cuz that’s all he did.
    The only good news so far is that there are some faint indications that the administration is having some serious second thought about their big talk on Afghanistan.

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Without censure, a growing current in Israeli politics is calling for the outright killing of Palestinians
    By Khaled Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem
    Feb 7, 2009
    His name is Avigdor Lieberman and he is widely expected to be the main surprise of the Israeli elections, slated to take place 10 February.
    Many Israeli intellectuals dub Lieberman as the secular equivalent of Meir Kahana, the slain founder of the Kach terrorist group who advocated genocidal ethnic cleansing of non-Jews in Israel-Palestine. Kahana was assassinated in Manhattan, New York, in 1990 shortly after giving a speech in which he called for the annihilation and expulsion of Palestinians from “the Land of Israel”.
    According to most opinion polls, Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu, or “Israel is our Home”, is projected to win 16-17 Knesset seats out of 120 making up the Israeli parliament. This would allow Yisrael Beiteinu to overtake the Labour Party, led by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, to become the third largest party in the Israeli political system, after the Likud and Kadima parties. Lieberman’s party will likely be a chief coalition partner in the next Israeli government.
    Yisrael Beiteinu is not a party of marginal or pariah politicians. A few months ago, several high-profile politicians joined the party, including former Israeli Ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon and Uzi Landau, a former Israeli cabinet minister and prominent Likud figure for many years.
    Some observers expect the Obama administration and international Jewish circles to press Benyamin Netanyahu, who is widely expected to form the next Israeli government, to exclude Lieberman from government in order to avoid negative ramifications with regards to relations with the United States and European Union. However, it is uncertain that Netanyahu would cave in to such pressure, given his rapport with Lieberman. Lieberman was the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office when Netanyahu was premier in 1996-1998. He later assumed key portfolios, including deputy prime minister, minister of strategic affairs and minister of national infrastructure.
    Lieberman was born in Moldova in the former Soviet Union in 1958. In 1978, at the age of 20, he immigrated to Israel and received automatic citizenship under Israel’s law of return. He now lives in the settlement of Nokdi in the West Bank. A nightclub bouncer-turned-politician, Lieberman formed the Yisrael Beiteinu Party in 1999 when he was first elected to the Knesset. Without controversy, Lieberman’s political and social ideas can be described as racist, even genocidal. In recent weeks, he was quoted as suggesting that Israel should use nuclear weapons against the Gaza Strip.
    In 2002, Lieberman called on the Israeli government, under Ariel Sharon, to blanket-bomb Palestinian population centres in order to force Palestinians to flee to Jordan. The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot quoted Lieberman as saying during a cabinet meeting that the Palestinians should be given an ultimatum: “At 8am we’ll bomb all the commercial centres… at noon we’ll bomb their gas stations… at 2pm we’ll bomb their banks… while keeping the bridges open.”
    In 1998, Lieberman called for flooding Egypt by bombing the Aswan Dam. In 2001, as minister of national infrastructure, Lieberman proposed that the West Bank be divided into four cantons, with no central Palestinian government and no possibility for Palestinians to travel between the cantons. In 2003, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Lieberman called for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel to be drowned in the Dead Sea and offered to provide buses to take them there.
    Further, Lieberman has proposed that a “loyalty test” be applied to those “Arabs” who desire to remain in Israel. Those committed to making Israel a state of all its citizens, including the Palestinian minority, would be stripped of their voting rights. In April 2002, Lieberman stated that there was “nothing undemocratic about transfer”.
    In May 2004, Lieberman said that 90 per cent of Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens would “have to find a new Arab entity” in which to live beyond Israel’s borders. “They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.”
    continues…
    http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=51609&s2=08
    I don’t have time to search for it right now, but didn’t Netanyahu publically state, just a couple of days ago, that Lieberman would have a place in Netanyahu’s administration? What is inexplicable here, is that Steve thinks that these two, working together, wouldn’t dare attack Iran. It wouldn’t suprise me to see Gaza become a blazing inferno of white phosphorous, and some plot hatched to justify an AMERICAN attack on Iran. The scenario of a false flag Iranian terrorist attack on American interests, staged by the Israelis, is not beyond the realm of possibility.
    Personally, I agree with Steve. It is definately enlightening hearing from those whose views do not even remotely resemble my own. Seeing Israeli politics discussed as if we were discussing whether to eat rye or pumpernickel is fairly surreal. I can’t imagine placing any interest in Israeli politics when they are hell bent on sauteing Palestinian women and children in White Phosphorous. I mean, who really gives a shit which monster is going to pull the trigger on a few thousand more Palestinians? Is there really any such thing as a “moderate” Israeli politician? What kind of governing body allows the atrocities we have seen Israel commit against the Palestinian people?
    We oughta tell these ghouls that there will be NO MORE American money pumped into their murderous mitts until they adhere to ALL UN resolutions they are in defiance of, they lift the blockade, and they stop collectively punishing an entire population because of the actions of a few.

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    rich,
    thanks for the link – a very sad story indeed.

    Reply

  14. rich says:

    An FYI — my reaction/post above was prompted by jdledell’s blog at TPM. I urge everyone to read the whole thing, given the attention to Netanyahu:
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/jdledell/2009/02/my-israel.php
    The author’s moving to Israel, has visited 70 times, and his grandfather “was Irgun.” You will all be pleased he was confronted by Shin Bet with several of his blog comments upon entering Israel, and asked to defend/explain himself.
    His observations about current sentiments Israel may, I think, expose Steve’s positive spin on a Netanyahu victory as abstracted, wishful thinking. Barring, I guess, an extremely heavy-handed role by regional and global actors. The on-the-ground reality allows Bibi a free hand and as much mommentum as he wants to exploit.
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/jdledell/2009/02/my-israel.php
    “There seems to be great excitement that the “Arab problem” is about to be solved by the election of Likud with the cooperation of Yisrael Beiteinu. A majority of the people we talked with felt that the new government would formally establish the Palestinian “reservations (economic zones)” leaving Israel to expand into the gaps. Indeed, we went to some campaign events where maps were put up on the wall showing 7 distinct Palestinian zones each completely surrounded by Israeli territory. The entire Jordan Valley would be Israeli.
    “Whether or not a new Israeli government would implement these kind of draconian measures is problematic. In fact, it may be primarily campaign hyperbole. However, one thing is not hyperbole and that is a dramatic increase in public hatred of Arabs. It used to be Jews were seemingly embarrassed to vocalize such sentiments and would usually do so only after 6 or 8 glasses of wine. Now at campaign rallies, at shul and just about everywhere you hear cries of death to the Arabs, move’em out etc. It’s frankly very ugly.
    “More than in decades past, the Israel I recently visited is a mixture of despair and arrogance. There is a great deal of pride over the Gaza campaign. When I pointed out that was nothing to be proud of since it was like the Pittsburg Steelers playing against a High School team. Most Israelis felt that while true, “those people” deserved it. . . . With respect to Gaza the solution I heard most frequently was to lock the gates and let them wither away from starvation or bust the gates at Rafah and move to Egypt if they want to eat.”
    Saddest thing I’ve ever read. Gone from the dream of a homeland turned reality — and a really touching compassion for the sacredness of life expressed by the author — to a nation locking itself in a prison of its own making, a callousness so profound that their own faith collapses in on itself, proving barren. Locking the west bank into ever tinier bantustans is openly advertised as the next step, but who is really in prison?
    The author recognizes that 90% of Israelis are happy to lock the gates to Gaza in order to starve the inhabitants—that’s the point. That’s where Israeli society has arrived; that’s their solution.
    It’s not my conclusion. I don’t want to believe it. It’s the campaign platform of competing political parties. It’s the conclusion of a citizen who’s been there 70 times, whose blood founded Israel, who’s choosing to make Israel his home.
    It’s like we’ve been saying: Israel’s survival depends on a reversal of course, and on a reversal of policies. True friends are those willing to tell Israel the truth; who have the courage to lay it on the line.
    Don’t take my word for it. Read it yourself.
    _____
    I guess my point was twofold. First, if Bibi has said or done anything to indicate he’d alter that reality, do cough it up. If Bibi has said or done anything to indicate he’s a changed man, spill.
    Second, you say nothing about the mood of the electorate. What they’ll ask of Bibi, or demand from him, will matter.
    I don’t believe he’ll be able to hold back he tidal forces that will see his election as a green light. Nor will he be inerested in trying.

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    I hate to be cynical, but, oh well! This whole comeback thing is a clear indication that Israel’s democracy is broken and has been that way for decades.
    The government is basically a game of musical chairs, played by insiders who almost never go away, despite proven incompetence. Since the same candidates stay at the head of their slates until they die, get indicted or promoted, the electorate never has any choice but the same dreary old faces. As a result, the one who has been inexcusably incompetent most recently does not get elected. Nor does his incredibly incompetent predecessor. Soon “the least of evils” becomes the scoundrel of a decade ago, in this case Bibi. (Livni is an exception, but she inherited the burdens of Olmert’s despised and incompetent Kadima.)
    The real question is why there is so little dynamism in party leadership? Why do incompetent leaders so rarely get replaced by fresh faces who might (unlikely) prove competent? And can you call this democracy when the avenues to leadership are so firmly closed?
    Given the current state of affairs, Peres or even Sharon might make another run for PM…

    Reply

  16. rich says:

    It’s an interesting pattern: recurring comebacks of political figures almost because of their egregious mistakes. And clearly several have defied expectations the second time around. But what evidence is there, specifically, that Netanyahu has learned anything?
    Give us something solid. Something specific and concrete to base your conclusion on. I don’t find the generality that “Bibi made efforts to dial down the extreme and the obstreperous” even remotely persuasive that “he is not the same Bibi from 1996.” Every candidate runs to the middle by toning down extremist rhetoric. Respectfully, so what? You have a pattern, and a candidate running for a second stint in office who hasn’t actively torched the public discussion with inflammatory rhetoric. Mostly because he doesn’t have to.
    But you’re not conveying the whole story at all. Has Netanyahu explicitly said he would halt settlements in the West Bank? Promised to change any current policy that’s undermining Israeli security? Did Bibi support military action in Gaza, but urge the responsible and well-modulated use of military force there? Nope: he “remained largely silent.”
    Now, he may be in the strongest position to seek and get a peace accord; analogously, Obama, conventional wisdom has it, must prove his warhawk bona fides, while it took the Commie-hunter Nixon to go to China.
    But I would very much appreciate it if you would return and post whatever specific campaign positions, actions and explicit statements Bibi’s made that indicate he’s a changed man. I could be totally wrong.
    I don’t believe any of us can afford another Netanyahu if his politics remain the same — and if Israel remains on the same course or accelerates down that road.
    Many said the U.S. needed to see the disaster of George Bush before the pendulum could swing back the other way. Not so. We couldn’t afford it then; Israel can’t afford it now. Our best and brightest could’ve listened to wiser voices and wider points of view; so can you.
    ______
    Mr. Schneider, I said you’re not conveying the whole story. What is Netanyahu proposing? One of our blog-commenters went to a campaign event where “maps were put up on the wall showing 7 distinct Palestinian zones each completely surrounded by Israeli territory. The entire Jordan Valley would be Israeli.”
    So what are competing campaigns actually promising? I don’t think the resurrected-political-career-does-better-the-second-time-around storyline in and of itself is useful as a predictor of sound policy or sane leadership.
    Forgive my skepticism, but anyone whose looked into the mechanisms of America’s march west and its dealings with indigenous nations, or with the mechanisms of urban sprawl, know two things. The administrative mechanisms are all geared towards expansionism. The mortgage lending, the road building, the social grain slanted toward groupthink and conformity, and the profit taking, all dictate that the process continues and the errors repeats. It will take a conscious effort to remove those structures and to eliminate the incentives. The machine of state’s very purpose is to do these things, and so it will continue to build roads, bjuild settlements, take land and take profits. Like any other real estate game. The second thing is that it is crucial that not all laws are enforced.

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  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Tal Schneider,
    I didn`t intend to dismiss all what you said in this post – I just
    felt that those questions ending your post was…well, I said it
    above.
    Regarding the interesting “comeback issue” in Israeli politics, I
    would be interested in hearing your comment on the most
    depressing comeback, that of Rabbi Meir Kahane, reincarnated
    as Avigdor Lieberman?
    Here is an excerpt on the topic from Haaretz:
    “Last update – 02:22 08/02/2009
    Kahane won
    By Gideon Levy
    Tags: Israel News, Israel Elections
    Rabbi Meir Kahane can rest in peace: His doctrine has won.
    Twenty years after his Knesset list was disqualified and 18 years
    after he was murdered, Kahanism has become legitimate in
    public discourse. If there is something that typifies Israel’s
    current murky, hollow election campaign, which ends the day
    after tomorrow, it is the transformation of racism and
    nationalism into accepted values.
    If Kahane were alive and running for the 18th Knesset, not only
    would his list not be banned, it would win many votes, as Yisrael
    Beiteinu is expected to do. The prohibited has become
    permitted, the ostracized is now accepted, the destestable has
    become the talented – that’s the slippery slope down which
    Israeli society has skidded over the past two decades.
    There’s no need to refer to Haaretz’s startling revelation that
    Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman was a member of
    Kahane’s Kach party in his youth: This campaign’s dark horse
    was and is a Kahanist. The differences between Kach and Yisrael
    Beiteinu are minuscule, not fundamental and certainly not a
    matter of morality. The differences are in tactical nuances:
    Lieberman calls for a fascist “test of loyalty” as a condition for
    granting citizenship to Israel’s Arabs, while Kahane called for
    the unconditional annulment of their citizenship. One racist
    (Lieberman) calls for their transfer to the Palestinian state, the
    other (Kahane) called for their deportation.
    Advertisement
    Now the instigator of the new Israeli racism will apparently
    become the leader of a large party once again in the
    government. Benjamin Netanyahu has already pledged that
    Lieberman will be an “important minister” in his government. If
    someone like Lieberman were to join a government in Europe,
    Israel would sever ties with it. If anyone had predicted in
    Kahane’s day that a pledge to turn his successor into an
    important minister would one day be considered an electoral
    asset here, they would have been told they were having a
    nightmare.
    But the nightmare is here and now. Kahane is alive and kicking
    – is he ever – in the person of his thuggish successor. This is
    not just a matter of disqualifying Yisrael Beiteinu; it is not even
    a matter of this party’s growing strength to terrifying
    proportions, becoming the fulcrum that will decide who
    becomes prime minister. This is a matter of legitimization. All
    society bears responsibility for it.”
    You may read more at:
    ttp://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1062338.html

    Reply

  18. Pacos_gal says:

    It’s an interesting observation, this comeback scenerio. When a new person gets elected, I doubt if they ever really know what they have gotten themselves into. (I’m sort of feeling this for Obama these days.) So after you’re elected, you make all kinds of rookie mistakes, then if you are in the parliamentary system, you don’t pass a confidence vote or something and you’re out.
    Stick around at the edges for a few years, and then come back, hopefully knowing exactly what you have gotten yourself into and having a plan of action (that you’ve had a few years to put together) that you can actually implement without all the mistakes of your political leadership youth.
    This isn’t something that we’ve seen here in the U.S. since we have a separation between our political party leadership and our presidents. Still it is interesting and was something I had to wrap my head around when I moved to Canada.

    Reply

  19. DonS says:

    The “comeback” thing. It’s bewildered me. In some senses I’ve seen it as a sign of a vibrant parlimentary democracy. But also, I’ve been confused by what seems political theatre, and what is inside baseball, so to speak. The all seem to get involved in a coalition one time or another.
    It would be nice to see these contenders bashing each other over the head to see who could advocate substantive move towards peace rather than who is going to carry the biggest stick. But we all know what happened to Rabin, who dared to move in that direction.

    Reply

  20. Steve Clemons says:

    I disagree, respectfully, with you both. I found Tal’s piece interesting. I had not thought of comebacks — and as I’m very down on Barak right now and know that in the past Netanyahu did “deal”, I’m interested to know how Israeli commentators see this election. Importing the debate from there is not a bad thing and informs us — whether it conflicts with your general take on events or not. I publish enough on this subject, and you both comment enough, that you ought to allow some room for divergent takes, even those that you think run thin on the kind of analysis you want.
    All best — and do know that I love reading what you both write…but I also wanted to post this from Tal Schneider from Maariv — her first attempt at posting here.
    all best, steve

    Reply

  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Given the gravity of what is happening in Israel is is disconcerting to see TWN devote its space to this kind of campaign fluff piece. Who cares what kind of “relationship” the increasingly racist and psychopathic Israeli population has with its bullpen of racist and psychopathic leaders. Will Bibi bring “change”? Change from what to what?
    I guess Israel really is an American-style democracy after all. Their political reportage is just as shallow as ours.

    Reply

  22. Paul Norheim says:

    Perhaps the questions asked at the end of this guest post make
    sense for Israeli voters. From where I sit, asking if Netanyahu can
    “make sound decisions” seems surreal, bizarre.

    Reply

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