Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Israel's Right-Wing Makeover

Right wing ideologue Benjamin Netanyahu has swept to power in the elections. Coming with him are pro-settler politicians who are firmly against any Palestinian state, and militarists who are itching to preemptively wage war on Iran--along with anyone else in the neighborhood. To top it off, an anti-Arab ultra-nationalist, Avigdor Lieberman (who thinks apartheid for the Palestinians is a good idea, and at whose rallies Israeli teens chant "Death to Arabs") now has the position of "kingmaker" in the new emergent government. There's no misreading this--Israel as a state has tilted radically to the right, with leaders who are best compared to the neocons of the Bush era. And the left, defeated and humiliated, has been reduced to a minority voice.

It boggles the mind to think that the architects of the recent massacre in Gaza, are actually to the *left* of the people now in power. It seems the "extremists" are no longer restricted and blockaded in Gaza--they now have compatriots in Tel Aviv. Troubling for an Obama administration eager to wrangle out some form of Mid East peace, hope and change did not come to Israel.

More below the fold.

The Palestinian reaction:

Fatah leaders on the ground see the Israeli election as confirming what they already knew: that there's nothing to be gained by continuing the charade of U.S.-sponsored talks-about-talks with the Israelis. They could not get what they needed from Olmert, and they know his successors will be even more hardline. From the Palestinian perspective, the past eight years of waiting for negotiations with Israel has left Abbas empty-handed, while the latest Gaza conflict has put Hamas in a stronger position than ever in Palestinian public opinion.


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