Post-Israeli Election Thread

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103 Responses

  1. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Israeli elections serve, to me, as a periodic reminder of the virtues of a two-party system. Not because Netanyahu won, but because I am not a fan of post-election coalition-building as a norm.

    (If drawing our constitution from scratch, though, I’d still do things differently. I would prefer a degree of party fluidity that our current system lacks. Parties should be subject to more competition for the two primary spots.)Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      The coalition building isn’t as terrible as you’d think.
      Most factions pledge whether they’d be in a particular gov’t or not.Report

    • Avatar A Compromised Immune System says:

      We’d be just fine if the Senate stayed as-is but the House became a parliamentary distribution. That would allow for third parties to get a legitimate voice and eliminate a lot of the complaints about partisan gerrymandering, allowing the center to actually elect representatives again.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think the House is spread too thin to do much with proportional representation. It would actually make more sense to expand the senate greatly and do it there. As a bridge to more parties, I mean. That wouldn’t fix the gerrymandering problem, but there are other ways to do that if there is the political will.

        I do think it’s worth tinkering with at the state level, though. Put the second house to good use.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    “end of Israel as a democratic country”

    Oh, no, Israel has lost its way long before this —
    when the tail wags the dog, democracy is only fog,
    fading before the sun.

    This, my friends, is the endgame of Zionism.Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    I know one thing: this result will almost certainly result in Israel becoming more of a partisan political issue in the U.S. for the next couple years.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Potentially but I think it will be tricky for the Democratic Party because most American Jews still support Israel even if they share the concerns of Chait and Klein which I do.

      There is a lot of hyperbole in Jewish argument and Jewish v. Jewish politics. Part of this is because we have a long tradition of settling theological disputes with arguments and debates. The joke “Two Jews, Three Opinions” exists for a reason. There is also a long-tradition of rabbi-shopping if your rabbi gives you an answer you don’t like. A lot of Yiddish literature features stuff on the rabbi who is poor because he gives strict interpretations of the rules and can not keep a congregation because of these strict edicts. There are lots of jokes about people changing rabbis when the old rabbi says “That chicken is not kosher because of this microscopic bit of blood you found” and the response is to change rabbis instead of getting a new chicken.

      Tablet Magazine is an on-line Jewish mag. I find their politics curious. They will be very liberal on domestic issues including having podcasts about how Jewish immigrants from the end of the 19th century might have been illegal immigrants but on Israel, they are hardcore Likudniks.

      You should see the hyperbole that happens in the debates on facebook between the liberal Jews and the conservative Jews (politically liberal and conservative, not theologically but there is overlap.)Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Netanyahu’s pre-election rhetoric, which included explicitly ruling out a 2-state solution and overt racism, means that Europe will have little choice but to get tougher on Israel on things like the settlements and any military action they might take. The Obama administration will almost certainly not give Europe much grief for this, because Netanyahu has basically shown himself to have been negotiating in bad faith all along (though it’s not like anyone wasn’t aware of how he really felt). This will allow Republicans to call Obama an Israel-hater even louder, and more openly align themselves with the current Israeli leadership.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        There is no way it doesn’t’ get more partisan since the negotiations with Iran are on-going and the R’s are all in with trying to sabotage them. If an agreement is reached it will never be enough for the R’s and the war mongers.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Netanyahu did not come out against a two-state solution until a day before the election.

        I doubt that last minute stunt was enough to give Likud a 5 or 6-seat majority over Zionist Union.

        Israel is going the right currently and this does make it hard for the Democratic Party to be in bed with Likud but I think it also puts the Democratic Party in between a rock and a hard place because of their need for the American Jewish vote in terms of ballots and donations.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I don’t disagree with you or Chris but I do think it puts the Democratic Party in a tougher bind than the Republican Party.

        Jewish voters in the U.S. are highly concentrated and this helps the Democratic Party. They also tend to give a lot of donations.

        Netanyahu and Adelson are clearly willing to make Israel a partisan issue. The Democratic Party needs to find a way to be pro-Israel but critical without causing too many Jewish voters to switch parties.

        Now I wonder how many Jewish voters will switch over Israel. I wouldn’t be happy if the Democratic Party started using the same rhetoric against Israel that you find on the farther left but I don’t exactly have a home in the GOP either because I disagree with 99 percent of their platform if not more.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Casino madness did the margin but good!
        I continue to believe that one man winning an election is NOT free speech.
        30 Million for scaremongeringReport

      • Avatar Mo says:

        Bibi’s shameless race-baiting at the end makes it easier if he’s still in charge.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Maybe but the Palestinian activists I know also tend to distrust the Democratic Party over pretty much everything. They also tend to be younger and have the same GOTV issues that damned the Democrats in 2010 and 2014.

        But Goldberg is concerned and when you lose Jeffrey Goldberg….

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        In Israeli political terms, right and left do not mean the same thing that they do in the United States and Europe. The Zionist righ has always been more in favor of capitalist economics than the Labor Zionists. Jabotinsky basically believed that Israel’s geography and Jewish history guaranteed that the Jewish state would be a commercial and industrial nation. At the same time, the Zionist right has always accepted the logic of the welfare state and regulated capitalism. Jabotinsky also believed that the Jewish state would have a duty to provide its’ citizens with housing, healthcare, clothing, and food rather than leave those to market forces. Netanyahu’s economic policies are not alligned with what Americans or Europeans would consider rightist economics.

        Likud is also much more liberal on social issues than the Republican party because the Jewish social conservatives vote for religious policies.

        In Israel, right and left, revolve around issues of foreign relations and security for the most part. The Israeli right favors a more militant and nationalistic stand than the Israeli left.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “means that Europe will have little choice but to get tougher on Israel”

        what, in practice, does this mean, though?

        Sanctions? Looking at the internet, that idea has been floated a few times in the past year, then dismissed in follow up stories.

        The US has its trump card in the UNSC, which we will continue to use. UK will follow the same party line, unless, maybe, a Labour government replaces Cameron in May, then, maybe, it will distance itself from the usual US-Israel diplomatic posture. But that’s a lot a maybe. France has always been amendable to a go between between Israel and Palestine, but that calculation may have changed with the Charlie Hebo and anti-Jewish attacks earlier this year. Russia’s on Israel’s side more often than not these days, with the fall of secular Arab socialism, as well as a Russian expatriate community in Russia. And China for the most part doesn’t care, as long as the Spice flows out of the region.

        Bibi’s also in an unusually strong position these days because all of Palestine’s traditional champions and patrons in his near abroad are themselves under considerable political flux because of post-Arab spring reverberations – and in the case of Iran, also under the constraints of worldwide diplomatic pressure, of the bds variety.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Kolohe basically has it right but European governments are in an interesting position in regards to Israel. Most of them have substantial Muslim populations that are actively hostile towards Israel and do exercise their political musles on this issue. The UK, France, and Germany are in particular tight spot because of this. European countries also have more active anti-Zionist movements among their Far Left than the United States that symapthize with their Muslim citizens in the name of anti-imperialism or some other such nonsense. This prevents them from being seen as too pro-Israel. It is more of a political risk in Europe than it is in the United States.

        At the same time, European governments aren’t that fond of what they perceive to be Islamic extremism at home or abroad either and see Israel as a bulwark against it. Israel has the most stable government in the region even if it elects politicians that many Europeans find distasteful. Many are also getting tired of the acts of anti-Semitism committed against their Jewish populations, particularly France. This leads to many sympathetic feelings towards Israel as well.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        In the short term there’s not a lot they can do but in the medium to longer term if boycott/divestment movements keep gaining steam Israel could begin to feel it. She is a deeply trade dependant nation.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Oh, the boycott’s just for trolling.
        Amusing, but ultimately ineffective.
        Unless the aim was to have Hillel at each other’s throats?

        Israel’s in a far worse position than South Africa,
        a water “rich” country in a sea of thirsty villains.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Kim, a boycott is too small to matter… until it isn’t but once it isn’t that’s a serious problem.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @saul-degraw It’s less about being able to mobilize Palestinian activists. It’s about being able to more easily paint the state as straight up racist to the mushy middle.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I think painting Israel as racist is a lot more complicated than it seems.

        Lee below and this Vox article points out that Labour’s long decline in Israel is because of the rise in the Mizrachi population. Mizrahi Jews are from the Middle East and Arab/Muslim world, countries like Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Tunsia, Afganhistan, etc. In short, they are not very white. They are certainly far less white than the very European looking Isaac Herzog.

        The Mizrahi Jews have always seen Labor as belonging to the European elite.

        This is why it usually fails when the BDS movement tries to portray Israel as being nothing more than a bunch of white colonizers. Many Israeli Jews are not actually white. No more so than anyone else from Iraq, Iran, or Yemen. It also doesn’t help that Jews are starting to feel increasingly unwelcome and unsafe in Europe. 3500 French Jews made aliyah in 2012 or 2013. That number increased to 7000 in 2014. This is not an insignificant jump and it probably isn’t an exception either.

        The whole thing is a mess.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @saul-degraw He had a desperate rant on election day about the Arabs being bussed in by foreigners to vote and used that as a way to drum up support. And won going away despite pre-election day polls indicating that he would lose. If a French politician in that situation said the exact same thing but replaced “Jews” for “Arabs” or a Southern politician did the same and said “blacks” instead, you would have no qualms about saying that the electorate was motivated by anti-Semitism or racism.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Painting Israel as a racist state is always going to be a losing strategy because it makes no sense. Israel is by no means close to perfect but its Arab citizens sit in the Knesset and hold positions in the judiciary and bureaucracy. One of them even presided over the trial of a Jewish President accused of rape. Arab members of the Knesset get away with speeches and actions that would be considered treasonous and not tolerated in any other country. Meanwhile, most other countries in the area are going through a binge of ethno-religious cleansing. You need very strong blinders on your eyes to ignore this.

        The reason why BDS types like to refer to Israel as a racist, settler state is because they are Jew-haters. They do not and can not acknowledge Jews as a persecuted group because their entire world view is based on the idea of evil white people vs. good, indigenous people of color. Yet to acknowledge the problems faced by the Jews in Europe and the Middle East would refuse this. Therefore, they need to pretend that the Zionist movement consisted of Jewish Boers.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Lee, does the fact that the Ferguson city council has an African American member mean that everything’s hunky-dory there?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @kolohe, no. I am not and never said that Israel was perfect. What I am saying is that it is not even as close to as being bad as its’ critics think it is. For one thing, Israeli cops that shoot at Palestinians and Israeli Arabs tend to get prosecuted and convicted. So do Israeli citizens:

        Another thing is that a lot of people seem to think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be treated in isolation with all the other ethnic and religious tensions in the region. That is they seem to assume you could create one secular, democratic country and not have it wind up in civil war or that an independent Palestinian state would magically be protected from take over by ISIS or some similar group because reasons.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        “Israel is by no means close to perfect but its Arab citizens sit in the Knesset and hold positions in the judiciary and bureaucracy.”

        @leeesq What about changing the Knesset qualification rules in part to push Arab parties out from the Knesset?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        It seemed to backfire big time.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @leeesq Just like Republicans’ push for voter ID laws backfired. It doesn’t make it less racist in intent. Also, having a bunch of different groups with different goals (secularist, pan-Arabs, religious-extremists, etc.) thrown together in a party based purely on race doesn’t seem like a long term viable strategy.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Does racism have to be white against non-white? It’s a perfectly accurate description of Japan’s treatment of its Korean minority or the genocide in Rwanda.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @mike-schilling obviously non-whites can be racist against other non-whites.

        In modern parlance, the party identified as racist always seems to get identified as white even if that makes no sense in reality.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @mo, more seriously; the raising of the electoral threshold in Israel is a complicated issue. Avigdor Lieberman had some racist intent but one of Israel’s political problems since 1948 was that there were too many political parties. This was because the electoral threshold to get into the Knesset was set too low. Most other countries that use proportional representation have a higher threshold to address these problems.Report

  4. Avatar ktward says:

    I understand why it is, for decades, we’ve sent billions of US taxpayer dollars to Israel. I’m mostly okay with that. Which is to say that I support the state of Israel.

    But I don’t at all understand why we *still* send Israel billions of our dollars. Also too, while AIPAC is hardly the only source of corruption on The Hill, it is indeed a major corrupting influence. Case in point, that absurd letter to Iran.

    That nutty letter demonstrated Republicans, collectively, are ill-prepared to govern responsibly. Not really a surprise. But it equally demonstrated the untoward influence AIPAC continues to hold over our most important deliberative body in US politics.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      But I don’t at all understand why we *still* send Israel billions of our dollars.

      That is easy. Almost all of U.S. aid to Israel is military aid. And military aid comes with covenants that stipulate where and how that money will be spent. I’ll give you three guesses as to where that money must be spent. Military aid is just an indirect transfer to the defense industry.

      Although, Israel is unique in that about 25% of the aid that it gets can be spent on their domestic defense industry.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Yes a log of foreign aide is an indirect route to defense contractors, but let’s also remember that money flows to those with the most and most influential lobbyists. Even if the aid to Israel wasn’t military, they’d still get a big chuck since they’ve got a good lobby team.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I’m not sure how true that is. Egypt gets a lot of military aid and I’m not aware of a particularly big Egypt lobby.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Damon and jr,
        Egypt gets US aid to be Israel’s friend.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @kim @jr

        Well, county’s get money for several reasons. 1) they have good lobbyists, 2) it’s in the gov’ts interest to give them money-ie buying friendship or hosting a base, 3) congress critters want to spend pentagon money in their home district and so mandate foreign aide, etc.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        How much do you suppose Saudi Arabia offers us to keep our continued reliance on gasoline?Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        I think the saudis don’t. But they did allow us to operate major bases there for decades. They also, in many instances, work to stabilize the price of oil and are supporters of pricing said oil, in us dollars. The fact that oil is generally priced in usd is one of the major reasons the dollar is the worlds reserve currently and a leading factor is the maintenance of the us empire.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        then you should learn a little more suspicion, or gain a little more competency in following the money.
        I’ve named one senator “from saudi arabia” more than once.
        Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out, considering…Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        Does it happen? I’m sure it does. Frankly, I don’t think my distrust and contempt for gov’t in all it’s forms is less than yours. 🙂 But in the case of the saudis I think there are a lot more geopolitical issues going on. Hey, I could be wrong. I’m sure the saudis buy a lot of friends, but I think the relationship for the us is more about a greater global position vs the israeli relationship. That relationship seems to provide a lot more negative news and consternation than the one with the saudis. Hell, does anyone really report on or talk about that relationship? Compare to israel.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        if the press won’t even report on Bush smuggling Saudi folks out of our country after 9-11 — during the “no fly” time, I’d hardly expect to hear a peep out of them for anything more major.

        AEI is well-funded by the Sauds (I do NOT consider myself a forensic accountant, but I do know one, and occasionally I hear a bit of interesting news).Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      We still send Israel billions of dollars in aid for the reasons that j-r listed below and because there are more Americans who support giving aid to Israel than those who support it.

      At least those who support giving aid to Israel are willing to be loud and vocal about it. One issue voters tend to go a long way in U.S. politics. Look at how well the N.R.A. does!!! People who oppose the aid are simply either not big enough to influence anything and/ or they care about too many issues to leave the Democratic Party or Republican Party over it.Report

    • Avatar Notme says:


      Would you really have us believe that the letter was written at the behest of AIPAC? As for the letter itself, the point it made was valid, i.e. any executive agreement can be changed at will.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Likud gained a larger number of seats than expected because many Israelis that would usually vote for smaller rightist parties like Avigdor’s Yisrael Beitanu or Ychad decided to vote for Likud instead. Maybe this was because of Netanyahu’s last minute change in strategy but it could also be that many right-leaning Israelis already decided to this previously and the results would have been the same without Netanyahu’s scorched earth tactics.

    A clearer win for the Zionist Union and a Herzog led government would not have yielded a massive change in Israeli-Palestinian relations or Israeli policy towards Iran. The Labor Party was only able to revive itself to the extent it did because it decided in recent years to focus on domestic issues because most Israeli’s do not trust them at all with dealing with the Palestinians even if they aren’t quite with Likud on the matter either. Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s offer in 2001 is seen as leading to the Second Intifada.

    The fact that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 led to Hamas deciding to use Gaza as a missle base lowered Israel’s appetite for unilateral actions though. The current chaos with ISIS in the Middle East isn’t really working for a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflcit either. Whether the world likes it or not, the past experience of the average Israeli means that they are not going to favor leaving the West Bank until they get some fairly certain gurantees that the the West Bank isn’t going to become a launch area for attacks against Israel like Gaza. To the average Israeli, it looks like the world wants them to take a giant plunge in the dark and a big risk for nothing in return.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      What does Israel have now, except blood and tears?
      A Toast to Victory and Greater Israel!
      May my foxwine spatter like blood on the floor,
      I’ll drink the dregs.

      Only fools really think victory is the only thing.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Israel probably has much mroe security and safety now than it did when it was actively attempting to negotiate with Arafat. Its one of the few countries in the Middle East that is political stable and not imploding. Israel’s economy is doing rather well and recent discoveries of natural gas mean that Israel might achieve energy independence or even surplus that could be exported.

        What would you have Israel do? The previous attempts to negotiate with Palestinain leadership literally blew up in Israel’s faces. Arafat was a completely bad faith negotiator. Abbas is impotent and can’t even make paper guarantees of anything. Hamas and other factions openly and repeatedly call for Israel’s destruction.

        The chant goes “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free.” This is repeated at every pro-Palestinian demosntration in the West and it is definite evidence that the Palestinains and all their allies will basically only be satisfied with the complete destruction of Israel as a solution. Considering how non-Muslims or heterodox Muslims are fairing in the Middle East right now, there is good reason for Israeli Jews not to be looking forward to this.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Less safe, actually. Bibi is a dangerous man, you see.
        More dangerous than Sadaam Hussein ever was.

        Were I able to speak to every Jew in Israel,
        with the silver that sat on David’s tongue,
        and righteousness in my voice, I could tell them only one thing:

        Darkness draws near, and death, and things far worse than death.
        For I do recognize the mien of a Pure Zionist State, where there are
        no Palestinians at all… Calling it apartheid is letting it off too easily, you know?
        Israel’s right sounds suspiciously like the Third Reich.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        What would you have Israel do?

        Stop expanding the size and number of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank and make a credible commitment to a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

        Or fully enfranchise all the Arabs into a single democratic state.

        One of those might be nice.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Personally I’d like them to (worst case) pick their own borders, unilaterally withdraw behind them, enfranchise ever Arab within them and ignore the Arabs outside of them or (best case) get the Palestinians to agree to some kind of border line and security sharing agreement, then withdraw behind it etc…Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Were you one of those bibi was so polite as to shout out, in one of those rants?Report

      • Avatar Anonymous says:


        Do you think other countries should be forced to stop building apartments within their sovereign borders and capital? Or forcibly relinquish half of that capital to a group (the PA) with an incredibly shaky claim to any of it?Report

      • Avatar Matty says:


        Can you think of another nation where in part of their sovereign territory the majority of residents from birth are not citizens?

        If the West Bank is part of Israel then surely the conditions for Israeli citizenship there should be the same as in Tel Aviv, which would make Mahmoud Abass as much an Israeli as Hamad Amar or for that matter Binyamin Netenyahu.

        If the West Bank is not part of Israel then you have to admit that Israel building there is a different matter to the US building in Washington.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Herzog could also form a coaltion with the United Arab List, who emerged as the third biggest party in the Knesset, and other centrist and leftist parties. This would allow Herzog to avoid dealing with the ultra-orthodox parties and give Arab politicians in the Knesset actual leverage to get policies they want enacted. The only problem is that many Arab politicians in Israel reject the idea of cooperating with the Israeli government and prefer the path of political impotency and purity.Report

  7. Avatar reveritt says:

    What has changed is that Obama in 2012 was seen as less friendly to Israel than his opponent, and that did not hurt him. No doubt the Democrats received less money because of that perception, but they had more than enough anyway. And Obama picked up votes from blacks and Muslims who are either indifferent to the fate of Israel or want the country destroyed. The Muslim vote in particular is still small, but it happens to be more significant in states like Ohio and Virginia which are particularly important in presidential elections. It’s also significant in California I think, but the last thing the Democratic Party needed in 2012 was more California voters, so that geographic oddity did not matter.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      There will come a time, if it has not come already,
      when the greatest friend to Jews will be
      an enemy of Israel.

      And for good reason.

      Oh, so sweetly they dream,
      lost in the clouds of delusion…Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      1. Obama less pro-Israel than Romney:

      I think there is a very small but very vocal part of the Jewish population that believes this but most Jewish-Americans do not believe it in any serious or meaningful way. Jennifer Rubin and Sheldon Adelson do not speak for the majority of American Jews. Neither does the Commentary crowd or right-wing Christian Evangelicals like Bachmann who label Obama as being anti-Israel.

      Obama still received 69 percent of the Jewish vote in 2012 (though this is down from 78 percent in 2008). Carter in 1980 seems to have won the lowest percentage of the Jewish vote with a mere 45 percent plurality to Reagan’s 39 percent. Obama did better with the Jewish vote in 2012 than Mondale did in 84 (67 percent) and Dukakis did in 1988 (64 percent).

      2. Arab/Muslim vote:

      The interesting thing is that Muslims and Arabs tended to be reliable GOP voters before 9/11 because of social conservatism.The harcore islamophobia might push them into the Democratic column but it is not because they are necessarily liberal.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Saul, if Bibi continues repeatedly climbing into bed with the GOP and assailing Obama over Iran he could very well manage to poison things with the Democratic Party. Politics is tribalism and the GOP is already hooting like screech owls that the Dems are “anti-Israel” If Bibi and the GOP repeat it over and over who knows what could happen.

        That said it’s anyone’s guess what will happen beyond the short term. It mostly hinges on Iran right now. HRC is probably cold enough that she’ll be content to let the Israeli’s continue to commit slow motion suicide over the territories rather than expend her own capital on much beyond gestures towards Israeli/Palestinian reproachment.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I laid out the big issue for American Jews especially the majority of us that vote Democratic. We would probably be pissed and depressed if support for Israel became a Ted Red or Team Blue issue but we don’t exactly have a home in the GOP because of all the other stuff that we believe.

        I suppose what you are saying is correct enough though.Report

      • Avatar reveritt says:

        I’ll take your word that few Jews believed Obama was anti-Israel. I don’t believe he was either, but I think that claim appealed to voters who were opposed to Israel.

        As for American Muslims, one reason they scarcely appear as a voting bloc is that they are spectacularly diverse. Probably Muslims from Nigeria or Sri Lanka or Indonesia do not spend a lot of time thinking about Israel. But with Muslims expected to outnumber Christians in the world before 2050, there will be lots more of them in the United States.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Saul, don’t forget that Israel becoming a Team Red/Team Blue issue =/= Jewish voters abandoning the Dems. If American Jews percieve Bibi/Israel and the GOP as being the cause of that change it would lead to a growing gap between Israel and her American diaspora, not a gap between American Jews and the Democratic Party.

        Note, that such a thing would be an absolutely towering crisis for Israel and would generally be a terrible terrible not good thing so I absolutely hope it doesn’t happen.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        There is a difference between there being more Muslims than Christians in the world by 2050 and that also being true in the United States. Muslims are only .6 of the U.S. population according to wikipedia. There will certainly be more but not dramatically so. Though I suppose it is more plausible that Muslims will outnumber Jews in the U.S. by 2050.

        It is also interesting to note that the U.S. does a better job of integrating the Muslim population than Europe does. This won’t necessarily make them pro-Israel though,Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I don’t see the share of the Muslim population of the US rising above 2% (or the Jewish population declining below 2%) in two generations, based on the data that same wiki article uses for average education and income, and the general demographic trends of US society.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        @saul-degraw, I’d make the argument that actually, the US is just farther away from the Middle East, so it’s harder to get here, so of course, “better” (to use a horrible word) Muslims will show up here because they’ll have the means and resources while in general, it’s a lot easier for a poor Muslim from Algeria or Turkey to make it to Germany or France.

        Not absolving the European faults on integration, but if Mexico was a Muslim country of 100 million who we’d held as a colony for decades, we might have issues too.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I believe that we do a better job of assimilation and acculturation than most European countries, but I also think that Jesse is right on.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I don’t disagree with your assessment. There is still something about American culture that just seems to integrate people. Look at how quickly the children of immigrants become stereotypical American teenagers.

        “I want to be in America, everything free in America, for a small fee in America…”Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Second Will and Jesse. America is, in it’s bones, a better country at assimilating immigrants in general but geography is far from nothing.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “¡Pobre MĂ©xico! ¡Tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos!”

        It’s not like we don’t have a hundred and seventy some-odd year history of messing around in Mexico’s internal affairs when it suits us.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I basically think that it is American Pop Culture that helps with the assimilation especially because it goes all over the world.

        I watched a BBC documentary on the history of Britain from 1900-1950 and the host basically said “we were hooked” when it came to American pop culture that came over to the UK in WWII. That hooking doesn’t seem to have let up and might just be expanding.

        The novelist J.P. Priestley begged Brits not to follow the “siren song” of Hollywood at the end of WWII and he failed miserably.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Saul, I’m sure Pop culture is a contributor but America is also big, it’s diverse and probably just as importantly it’s pretty easy to land a job here (and pretty easy to lose a job here but I repeat myself) and an immigrant who is working doesn’t have as much time to notice how their kids or they themselves are mixing into the melting pot or work against it.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        and an immigrant who is working doesn’t have as much time to notice how their kids or they themselves are mixing into the melting pot or work against it.

        I think this is true of most people at the lowest rungs of the economy in the US; that ‘doesn’t have much time” problem is for some, huge, and it’s easy to miss how much of their time is taken up making small economic decisions that, for most of us here, don’t even seem like decisions or problems.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I agree Zic, and there are a lot of bad outcomes that this produces in child development and the like. One of the less common positive outcomes, however, is that assimilation occurs faster because the parents outsource cultural education to the schools, the media etc…Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        North is partly right about geography aiding in America or more particularly our poly-centric economic geography. European countries are smaller and have fewer important cities. This encourages immigrant communities to concentrate more rather than spread out. When you combine this with Europe’s failures at integration, largely because they thought the immigrants would go home after making enough money plus some misguided beliefs caused by historical guilt, than you got a recipe for the current problems with Muslim immigrants and to a lesser extent other immigrants.

        I also think that America’s less generous and comprehensive welfare state helps integrate immigrants as well. They have to acculturate and get along with American citizens in order to make a living. The other choice is crushing poverty. The more generous European welfare state provides a greater degree of autonomy to immigrant communities because the costs of failure to acculturate are less.Report

  8. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The Zionist Union has not been able to overcome some of the basic demographic problems that plagued the leftist parties in Israel since 1948 but really manifested in full during the 1970s. Roughly, Israelis whose origins trace back to the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia, and the former Soviet Union do not like them. They are perceived as being the party of the Ashkenazi elite in the same way that many white working class people distrust the Democratic Party in the United States or the Labour Party in the UK is seen as a party of pointy head liberals. Its just that in Israel, the people who distrust the Leftist parties have a much wider range of skin color.

    The rightist parties in Israel had a much stronger following amoung Mizrachi Jews from the time of Begin. Mizrachi Jews saw Begin as being much more respectful towards them David Ben-Gurion and other Labour politicians. They liked how he wore a proper suit and tie rather than Ben-Gurion’s informal attire and believed that Begin respected their religious traditions more. Latter immigrants from Ethiopia and the Soviet Union thought that Likud was a more aggressive fighter for their rights and actively aided them in coming to Israel.Report

  9. Avatar A Compromised Immune System says:

    Given proximity to ISIS, this was entirely predictable. I don’t fault the Israelis for feeling under siege and when they feel under seige, they tend to elect Netanyahu.Report

  10. Avatar North says:

    I wouldn’t say, Lee, that divesting Israel of the demographic time bomb it has strapped to its chest or ridding itself of the primary excuse (the settlements) that Israel’s opponents use to demonize it would be nothing. Far from it.
    Also if the West Bank seriously looked like it was going to go Gaza then the Israeli’s could go back in. No one of consequence would fault them for doing so.

    At some point the Israeli’s are going to need to make up their mind about what they want to do about the territories and the Palestinians. Bibi’s strategy of fighting the Palestinian extremists while doing everything he can to marginalize and discredit Palestinian moderates is yielding nothing bit delay. The left clearly would like to try and get something, anything, they can use as an excuse to settle on some lines and pull out behind them (I consider this defensible) and the right mumbles a lot about just holding fast to the territories and somehow the demographic problem will fix itself (I see that only leading to the iron boot of apartheid or ethnic cleansing).

    Also, it’s really weird to read to read Freddie’s periodic five minute hates on Goldberg considering that the latter’s pretty much in agreement with the Israeli left these days.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I think of Freddie as being the classic kind of leftist who could never fully square the circle when it came to Jews. This has been a problem since Marx wrote his infamous essay “On the Jewish question”

      The Left can’t deny that Jews are a minority in terms of numbers but it also doesn’t want to deal with Jews as being non-white (even when they aren’t) because it means acknowledging the idea of ethnoreligion and that is just icky to them. Plus Freddie is probably about my age and probably grew up just seeing Jews as upper-middle class white Americans. There are too many complicated trade-offs for him to recognize that Jews are a minority.* He will grumble that “anti-Semitism is real” but then establish a much higher bar for proving it or going to say that Islamophobia is a bigger issue.**

      *The issue about whether Jews of European origin are white or not is interesting. Anti-Semitism was certainly an issue for my grandparents, it was an issue for many Boomer Jews as well (There are people in my shul who can talk about not being admitted to a university because of their Judaism and also being fired from jobs because of their Jewishness). I do think that it is less of an issue for Generation X and Millennial American Jews. I do think you are starting to see a split in younger Jews about whether they see themselves as Jewish or white if they are of European origin out of solidarity on Ferguson, many liberal Jews will acknowledge that they basically have white privilege. Others will not.

      Interestingly the most sympathy I’ve gotten from Jews as being distinct from whites has come from African-Americans.

      **LGM is no fan of Israel but too their credit, they are starting to call people out on making comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany because they realize it is counterproductive for all parties.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      @north I’ve yet to see evidence that there is such a thing as a Palestinian moderate. A lot of the alleged Palestinian moderates are making demands in English that would basically mean the destruction of Israel like giving Israel the responsibility of dealing with all the Palestinian “refugees”. There is no evidence that they are doing this for strategical purposes.

      The constant chant at nearly all pro-Palestinian rallies is “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free.” What if this little chat is basically the sincere desire of the Palestinians and their allies? What if the the only just solution from the standpoint of the average Palestinian is the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of Jews from the Middle East? It is an unrealistic goal but if this is an accurate reflection of their desires than it needs to be acknowledged rather than ignored. You can’t come up with solution to an issue by ignoring all the obstacles to achieving a solution. Its Israel that is basically made to assume all the risks while the Palestinians get away with being hateful and obstinate.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Lee, that dismissal of Palestinian moderation is so risible I am honestly gobsmacked to see you express it. It’s certainly discouraging proof of the penetration of Bibi and his Likudnik posse’s cynical and dishonest propaganda into general Jewish thought.

        Evidence of Palestinian moderation? How about unprecedented cooperation between the Palestinian Authority forces and Israel on security that has brought about years of relative calm and peace between those two regions? How about the lack of riots, the lack of mass assaults on settlers or the glaring contrast with, say, Hamas. Claiming that there is no moderation in the Palestinian polity is effectively saying the PA is the same as Hamas and that’s so ludicrous as to be laughable. I’m sure Hamas would have kept the lid on the West Bank when Mohammed Abu Khdair was fishing burned alive. All of this, mind, while Israel has unilaterally slammed their security barrier* between them, strangled them with checkpoints, established, expanded and tolerated settlements (both legal and illegal) and slathered in more roads to service the same while cutting the Palestinians off from both travel and their own water supplies.

        And what exactly are your complaints? That the Palestinians demand their refugees (and descendants thereof) return to Israel? Talk? My God(ess?) who honestly thinks that will ever happen and who honestly thinks that the Palestinians will ever stop talking about it? No one. So our complains about Abbas and the PA is that they say things the Israeli’s don’t like? That he plays hardball in diplomacy and rhetoric?? Cry me a river. Compared to Arafat; who also doubletalked like Abbas while winking at terror attacks against the Israeli’s and stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down Abbas is a paragon of statesmanship. If Clinton or Barak had been dealing with Abbas and Abbas’s PA we’d probably not even be discussing this; history is whimsical it seems. Oh for the halcyon days when the PA leaders actions matched their vile rhetoric instead of their constructive rhetoric; made everything so much simpler.

        Israel is the stronger and occupying power. Of course the majority of the risks of changing the status quos falls upon them; how could it possibly be different? The Palestinians have literally nothing left to lose short of the Israeli’s selling their own souls and ethnically cleansing them out of the territories. Bibi & Co basically demand that in order to achieve Israeli withdrawal** the Palestinians must not only accept the fact of Israel’s presence in the Middle East but must vocally assent to it and celebrate that fact. But if the Palestinians ever came to that attitude there’d be no need for two states in the first place. It’s paradoxical.

        No power on this planet can make Israel peaceably accept any substantive number of Palestinian refugees into Israel proper. It’s a canard to be exercised about it. I see little reason to think that anything would be sufficient to make the Palestinian leadership flat out accept that fact nor does it even remotely matter. Israel has a God(ess) awful mess on her hands in that she needs, badly, to uproot and drag a lot of raving Jewish loons out of the West Bank in order to resolve the Palestinian question (morally). The Israeli polity wants to get something in exchange for this but they’re already substantively getting pretty much everything from the PA they can realistically expect. Quid pro quo is difficult when you already have all the quo.

        Israel’s current posture is that the division can happen only once the Palestinians most fanatical wing desires it; but the Palestinians fanatics want nothing less than separation. They aren’t imbeciles, they can see the long term peril the status quos presents to the Jewish state. And all they have to do is remain themselves and take the easy path. I can’t imagine why they don’t cooperate.

        *And I actually supported the wall and think it probably did more good than ill but you have to be insane to not see how the Palestinians would view it.

        **Though more accurately it’s “demanded” past tense since Bibi renounced the two state solution in order to gin up more votes for Likud from the right wing.Report

      • Avatar Anonymous says:

        Palestinian leadership that advocates for flooding Israel with millions of refugees, regardless of the fact that it will never happen in a thousand years, is moderate and should be dealt with as rational actors in the politics of the region.

        Thousands of Israeli citizens in the West Bank are “raving Jewish loons” for wanting to remain where they already live.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @north, a lot of the people you identify as Palestinian moderates could not and would not make a final deal with Israel when Olmert made the most generous offer ever made by an Israeli leader to the Palestinians. Even if they are moderate and do not want to destroy Israel, they seem to lack the courage to make a final deal.

        I also recognize how the security wall looks to the Palestinians and the international community. It saves a lot of lives though. Without it, the West Bank would be like Gaza.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Lee, the wall may prevent many things but it prevents no tunneling and it prevents no rocket fire. It is the action of Palestinian moderates in the West Bank that prevents their loons from bombarding Israel proper from the West Bank; not the presence of the security barrier.
        I agree about Olmert but I also think Abbas was correct in declining the offer. Olmert was on his way out, everyone knew it, and so it was pretty rational to suspect that the Israeli government wouldn’t honor any last minute deals Olmert inked. Still if Olmert had posessed less corruption or more time I suspect he and Abbas would have hashed out an accord.

        Anonymous: the Palestinians who advocate “flooding Israel with millions of descendants of refugees”, regardless of the are of a kind with the Israeli politicians that make all kinds of claims about the indivisibility of cities and the mandate of Israel including all of Judea and Samara (but of course only the Jews there are citizens). It’s red meat for the masses.
        And no, not all the settlers are raving loons; some are merely indifferent actors who settled there because of the financial subsidies and incentives set up by raving loons in the Israeli government.

        It’s an indictment on them and all of Israel that they want to live like some ruler class slicing the Palestinians off into isolated ghettos. Mind, it’s an indictment on the Palestinians that such vile opressive violence is the only way Jewish people can realistically expect to live among the Palestinians and survive.Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        @leeesq Perhaps it’s because Abbas was told not to accept it by Israeli parties while he was discussing it with other Palestinian and Arab parties.

        “Olmert also lays the blame for the breakdown in negotiations at the feet of then foreign minister Tzipi Livni and then defense minister Ehud Barak. Olmert cites former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s book No Higher Honor in which she says that Livni came to her and Abbas separately asking them that they not ‘enshrine’ Olmert’s peace proposal. Olmert also said to Sof Hashavua that Barak sent representatives to Abbas to tell the Palestinian leader not to accept his proposal.”Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        A lot of the alleged Palestinian moderates are making demands in English that would basically mean the destruction of Israel like giving Israel the responsibility of dealing with all the Palestinian “refugees”. There is no evidence that they are doing this for strategical purposes.

        Sounds like the Palestinian moderates have a lot in common with the Israeli moderates.

        Basically, it’s all Crips and Bloods.Report

  11. Avatar Notme says:

    I thought the two biggest things to come out of the election were the rise of the pan arab party the Joint List and the fact that Bibi admitted that he wont allow a Palestinian state to be created. I wonder if this admission will change our policy towards the PA and Israel?Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      The Joint List only exists because Netanyahu changed the qualifying rules for parties in the Knesset. Under the old system, two of the three Arab parties would not have qualified for any representation. So they determined it would be better for them all to merge and get representation than to have their representation cut by over 50%.Report

      • Avatar Notme says:

        It is true that the rule change was the impetus for the coalition, i’m amazed that they were able to cooperate despite their differences. If the joint list survives it may make a difference in the political landscape.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      If by “our” you mean America I doubt it will produce any significant change.
      If by “our” you mean globally it’s certainly not going to do any good, that’s for damned sure.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Jesus christ, are you paying attention at all?
      (Pardon, my irritation at Lee may be spilling over onto you).
      $30 million dollars of scaremongering from one right-wing American Casino Magnate would be a different way to describe the JointList. And a bit more accurate.

      Obama’s using his power to turn quite a few screws on Bibi — looks like he’s finally been given the opportunity to let loose a bit.

      You’re welcome.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The second largest opposition party and one that is ideologically left-wing is the creation of a Vegas Likudnik? Really?

        Who’s got the opportunity to ‘let loose’ Obama or Netanyahu?

        With Bibi’s rhetoric in the home stretch and his electoral coalition partners, it’s the Israel PM that has the opportunity to let it loose. The Obama administration is too busy with other dumpster fires in the region, and anyway Obama has made a habit of dithering on foreign policy decisions since May 2, 2011.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:


      the fact that Bibi admitted that he wont allow a Palestinian state to be created. I wonder if this admission will change our policy towards the PA and Israel?

      I read this comment yesterday and it got me athinkin that Bibi’s hard-line turn was motivated purely by political manuevering, especially given your observation. Apparently, Netanyahu’s already backtracking on that position.Report

  12. Avatar aaron david says:

    Further Israeli thoughts:

    Full disclosure – the Magnes referred to is part of my family, though I have no affiliation with the blog.Report

  13. Avatar DRS says:

    When Republicans claim that Obama is anti-Israel, they really mean he’s anti-Netanyahu. (And why not, when the guy’s practically pissing on Obama’s shoes every chance he gets.) But Netanyahu won’t be around forever, and it might be good strategy for Republicans to consider what might happen when he retires or loses an election. Claiming there should be no space between your country’s policies and Israel’s is kind of risking fate, isn’t it?

    A few commenters note that Americans are pro-Israel, as if that’s the same thing as being pro-Bibi. But I’d like to see a poll that asked Americans if they’d be in favour of doing the things Bibi wants your country to do – like attacking Iran (yeah, yeah, he hasn’t mentioned it lately but you know that’s what he wants) or supporting all Israel’s activities in the territories. I seem to remember that the last couple of attacks on the Palestinians didn’t go over so well with American public opinion, and it would be a huge mistake for Israel to think that it’s got a blank cheque to do whatever it wants.Report

  14. Avatar Barry says:

    There’s a story in the WSJ:

    Apparently, Israel’s spy agency is spying on US+allies talks with Iran, which is no biggie, but it looks like Israel was feeding that information to their agents on the ground in the USA, to derail the talks (said agents being GOP politicians).

    At this point, it looks like prominent members of the GOP are truly agents of a foreign power.Report