Israeli election - commentary from Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon, from Peter Myers

(1) Israel election: Bad Guys win, but at least Netanyahu looks like losing(2) Jewishness on show in Israel - Gilad Atzmon(3) Economist: Netanyahu has yet to realise he is no longer the magician(1) Israel election: Bad Guys win, but at least Netanyahu looks like losingFrom: israel shamir <>Subject: Israeli elections, by Israel ShamirThe Israeli Elections: Who Cares?Repercussions in Washington and Moscow, in Gaza and Damascus, but not so much locally. ShamirSEPTEMBER 19, 2019Israelis held new snap parliamentary elections, as the previous round in April had been inconclusive. Surprise! The new round has been also inconclusive. The voters could not make up their mind and choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, two major parties of little substantial difference. The only noticeable distinction is personal: one party, Likud, is lead by Mr Netanyahu; another party, B&W (Blue and White, the colours of Israeli national flag) is dead-set against Netanyahu. Their policy, otherwise, is identical; the leaders of B&W are ready to join Likud-led government provided Netanyahu takes a hike. Likud has no problem in joining with B&W if they would agree to accept Netanyahu.Netanyahu sticks to his Prime Ministerial seat like Adonijah to the horns of the altar (1 Kings 1:50), for the moment he lets off he would be tried for assorted crimes of a pecuniary character and carried off to gaol. While he is a PM, he is immune, and he intends to stay immune as long as he can.Netanyahu will fight to the bitter end, no holds barred, for he does not want to go to jail. In Israeli politics, the politicians and statesmen are imprisoned so often that it appears a normal professional hazard. Perhaps the idea that 'no one is above the law' sounds good to you, but it is a very troublesome concept for it makes a person in power unwilling to relinquish the reins. The B&W leader's will for power can't be compared with Netanyahu's desire to remain free. The Prime Minister almost started a war with Gaza a few days ago, but his generals refused to march it was reported <>. If he gave orders to shell Gaza before the election, what shall he shell while facing defeat? That is why I do not expect a smooth transition of power.Liberal American Jews are involved: they want to break off the Netanyahu-Trump connection and to restore the bi-partisan standing of Israel in the US politics. Wily Trump created a schism between Zionists and Liberal Jews. Netanyahu is a great friend of President Trump who is a great friend of Israel. Naturally he is not a friend for Democrats in the Congress and Senate, and he is not a friend for the US Jews, predominantly Democrats. This is a new development; Netanyahu is not the non-partisan figure he was when the Congress applauded to each word off his lips. That was in Obama days; Obama loved Liberal Jews and was not very friendly towards Israel. Netanyahu hated and despised Obama, but he befriended Putin and Trump.The Liberal Jews in the US and in Israel, closely connected with the deep state, intelligence agencies, finances, and media in both countries want to get rid of Netanyahu and install a man of their own who will chill the Trump connection and restore the old link with the Democrats. Hopefully he will restore the bipartisan standing of Israel. Such a man is General Benny Gantz, a good-looking lanky man slightly similar to late General Yitzhak Rabin. He is supported by Avigdor Lieberman, a shrewd politician.Probably here is the right moment to remind the reader that in this story there are no good guys. Israeli politicians, whether pro-Trump or pro-Democrat, are equally evil and bloodthirsty. Prime Minister Netanyahu is complicit in uncountable murders of civilians, though the Israeli media only accuses of some financial irregularities. Killing Palestinians, bombing Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, inciting US wars from Iran to Afghanistan is a feather in Netanyahu's cap, according to Israeli morals. His opponent Benny Gantz is a war criminal who is wanted for numerous war crimes he committed in 2014 as the commander of the Israeli assault on Gaza <>. He actually boasted of committing mass murder in his campaign ads.One boasts of killing 1,364 Palestinian terrorists during the war, while another says that under Mr Gantz's command "parts of Gaza were sent back to the Stone Age." The videos make no mention of the 1,462 civilians killed during the conflict, according to a UN count.reportedThe Daily Telegraph <>. Now that we have dealt with the question of moral preference between the twain (there is none), we can proceed.The man who undermined Mr Netanyahu is Mr Avigdor Lieberman, the head of his own small party. Until recently, it was predominantly a "Russian" party of elderly émigrés from the former Soviet Union. Mr Lieberman is a hawk, or rather a chicken hawk for he never served in the army. He demanded bombing Gaza back to the stone age, bomb the Aswan Dam, executing Arab guerrillas; he never asked anything for his own electorate, but they did not mind and voted for him, time and again.Lieberman served under Netanyahu in all his governments, as a Defence Minister or a Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he was considered a sure partner in a new government. But after April elections, he rebelled and demanded drafting observant Jews into the army. Failing that, he is out, he said. And he was out, for Netanyahu was forced to choose: to part with Lieberman or to part with Jewish religious parties. He didn't want to part with his loyal and undemanding observant Jews to please the troublesome Moldovan politician. Without Lieberman, Netanyahu could not form a coalition, and the country went to new elections.Since April, Lieberman upped the ante of his anti-clerical rhetoric. He said he wouldn't sit in a government comprising Arabs or observant Jews. He proposed forming a grand secular coalition of Likud, B&W and his own party. I think it is a misnomer: Likud and B&W can form a coalition without Lieberman any time they want, and the Jewish religious parties will eagerly join it. Anti-clericalism has a very limited appeal in Israel. You can't convincingly claim God Almighty promised you the Holy Land, if you deny His existence and His faith. You can't vote for the Jewish State Law declaring Israel is the Jewish state for Jews, and keep Jewish religious parties out of government.There are Israelis who dislike the Jewish religion. Some of them consider themselves "Israelis", but there aren't many of that ilk. Gilad Atzmon recently argued with a Haaretz journalist <> about who won the elections, Jews or Israelis <>. Pfeffer suggested the majority are Israelis and Jews, not single malt. Israelis were defeated by Jews, said Gilad. In my view, anti-clerical Israelis are a rare brand, and not an especially wonderful one. They are extremely short of compassion. Religious Jews have some modicum of compassion towards other Jews; irreligious Jews have no compassion to anybody. That's why I think Lieberman will eventually lose his bet. But meanwhile he harvested many votes of Israelis who hate the religious Jews.Jews and Israelis, religious and irreligious Jews are perfectly united in their rejection of non-Jews. The third party by size, after Likud and B&W, is the Joint List, the party Israeli Palestinians ("Arabs") vote for. Israeli Jewish parties swore they would never sit in a government with the goys. They prefer to have no government rather than have a government together with Arabs. It does not matter that these "Arabs" are citizens of Israel – the Jews are not famous for sharing anything, especially power. Neither Likud nor B&W want to let them into a government coalition. There is no tangible political difference between the big parties in this aspect.Netanyahu claimed he belongs to the Right, while his opponents are the Left. Bollocks! The Jewish Left does not exist anymore. Once it was strong; it was the force that created the Jewish state and the mighty Army of Israel. It ruled for 30 years unopposed, and afterwards intermittently, but now it is dead. There was fear that the Labour Party wouldn't even make it to the Knesset; it made it – just. I, for one, won't regret its demise. They had their chance to sort out the relations with Palestinians, the most important problem of Israel, but they blew it. The Israeli Left, like an American or French Left is concerned with gender problems, with illegal African immigrants, with feminist issues – their Palestinian neighbours do not interest them.The Palestinians and their fate haven't been on the agenda in these elections. The parties did not even bother to propose some treatment to this terrible state, when millions of human beings are deprived of most basic rights just because they aren't Jews. Still Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (Jews call them 'Arabs', while Palestinians of the West Bank call them Palestinians-[19]48) went to vote and elected 13 MK, among them one great Jewish communist, Offer Cassif. This fraction could break the deadlock and save Israel from itself – if a Jewish party will break self-imposed taboo.Trump and Putin gave some cautious support to Bibi Netanyahu. Trump had promised to present his grand plan after the elections. He did not object to Netanyahu using his images for the election ads. The fall of Netanyahu will be a terrible blow to Trump, said a <> liberal Israeli journalist, usually hostile to Trump and Netanyahu. However, even he noted that Trump did not go far enough to help Bibi.Putin agreed to meet Netanyahu a few days before the elections, providing him with a good photo opportunity. Still, Putin refused to give Netanyahu anything more tangible, like a condemnation of Iran or a promise to observe Israeli interests in Syria. Moreover, Putin condemned the Israeli bombing of Syria at his meeting with the Turkish and Iranian presidents in Ankara.On the other hand, President Putin came in person to meet the main American supporter of Netanyahu, the casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson on September 17, the Israeli Election day, at the gathering of Keren Hayesod, or United Israel Appeal, in Moscow. The United Israel Appeal is the fundraising arm of the Zionist movement, one of Israel's three national institutions (along with the government and the Jewish Agency), raising money for the state. At its biannual sessions (like the one that took place in Moscow) the world's foremost Jewish philanthropists, the fattest cats get together and gift millions of dollars to the Jewish state.President Putin had been the guest of honour at this gathering, and he referred to his recent meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Putin said, "Prime Minister reminisced of his grandfather the Rabbi frequently appearing at the Keren Hayesod actions. He was an excellent orator, said the Prime Minister, and for his eloquence he was compared with the renowned Jewish poet Hayim N Byalik. Netanyahu cherishes the Keren Hayesod diploma of his grandfather etc". A Kommersant (an important Russian daily) journalist who <> reported on this event, felt that the Russian President went, perhaps, too far in his lauding of the Israeli Prime Minister.Putin and Trump hedged their bets. They expressed enough support for Netanyahu to be seen as his benefactors if he wins, and as friends of Israel rather than of Bibi personally, if he loses. Probably both presidents will regret his departure, as the liberals of Israel do hate Trump and Putin, just like their American brethren. But for Israelis and Palestinians the change will be small.Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.netThis article was first published at The Unz Review(2) Jewishness on show in Israel - Gilad AtzmonGilad Atzmon rightly rejects the line of Alan Hart and others, that Zionism is not Judaism; that Judaism is just a harmless apolitical religion, and should not be judged by Zionism or by what Israeli do. Judaism - or Jewishness - is not just an academic matter. To the contrary, what (Jewish) Israelis do is Judaism - Gilad calls it the more secular term 'Jewishness' - on display. He's right; but non-Jews who say so are branded 'nazi'. - Peter M. vs. IsraelisGilad AtzmonSeptember 16, 2019Now would be the correct time for Ali Abunimah, JVP, & CO to form an orderly queue to issue their deep and sincere apology to me. Since the early 2000s my detractors within the so called Jewish 'Left' together with their sometime stooges, have been  harassing me, my publishers and my readers for pointing out that Zionism is an obsolete concept with little meaning for Israel, Israelis and their politics let alone the conflict that has been destroying the Eastern Mediterranean regionIn my 2011 book The Wandering Who, I argue that "Since Israel defines itself openly as the 'Jewish State', we should ask what the notions of 'Judaism', 'Jewishness', 'Jewish culture' and 'Jewish ideology' stand for." Just before the publication of the book I was urged by both JVP's leader and Ali Abunimah to drop the J-Word and focus solely on Zionism. In Britain, a gang of so called 'anti' Zionist Jews relentlessly terrorised my publisher and promoters. Funny, most of these authoritarian tribals who worked 24/7 to silence me have been expelled from the British Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitism. Now, they promote the ideal of 'freedom of speech.'In 'The Wandering Who' and in the years preceding its publication, I realised that the Palestinian solidarity discourse has been suffocated with misleading and often duplicitous terminology that was set to divert attention from the root cause of the conflict and that acted to prevent intelligible discussion of possible solutions.Let's face it. Israel doesn't see itself as the Zionist State: not one Israeli party integrated the word 'Zionism' into its name. To Israelis, Zionism is a dated and clichéd concept that describes the ideology that promised to erect a Jewish homeland in Palestine. For Israelis, Zionism fulfilled its purpose in 1948, it is now an archaic term. In 'The Wandering Who' I presented a so-far unrefuted argument that an understanding of 'Jewishness', a term familiar to every self-identified Jew, may provide answers to most questions related to Israel and its politics. It may also help us to grasp the fake dissent that has dominated the so- called Jewish 'anti' Zionist campaign for the last two decades.Though I was probably the first to write about the crucial shift in Israeli society in favour of Judeo-centrism, this shift is now mainstream news. Haaretz's lead writer, Anshel Pfeffer, just wrote a spectacular analysis of this transformation. Pfeffer's view is that Israelis are going to the polls this Tuesday to decide whether they are "Jews" or "Israelis."According to Pfeffer, in the mid 1990s it was Netanyahu's American campaign guru, Arthur Finkelstein, who promoted "a message that could reach secular and religious voters alike. In his polling, he had asked voters whether they considered themselves 'more Jewish' or 'more Israeli.' The results convinced him there was a much larger constituency of voters, not just religious ones, who emphasized their Jewish identity over their Israeli one."In light of Finkelstein's observation, Likud focused its message on Jerusalem. Its campaign slogan was: "Peres will divide Jerusalem." In the final 48 hours before Election Day there was also "an unofficial slogan, emblazoned on millions of posters and bumper stickers distributed by Chabad Hasidim: "Netanyahu is good for the Jews."In a Haaretz interview after his narrow 1996 defeat, Peres lamented that "the Israelis lost the election." When asked then who had won, he answered, "The Jews won."Pfeffer points out that Netanyahu learned from Finkelstein that the "Jew" is the primary unifier for Israelis. This certainly applies to religious Jews but also to those who regard themselves as secular. After all, Israel has really been the "Jewish State" for a while.This is probably the right place to point out that Netanyahu's move of locating Jewishness at the heart of Israel is a reversal of the original Zionist promise. While early Zionism was a desperate attempt to divorce the Jews from the ghetto and their tribal obsession and make them "people like all other people," the present adherence to Jewishness and kinship induces a return to Judeo-centric chauvinism. As odd as this may sound, Netanyahu's transformation of Israel into a 'Jewish realm' makes him an ardent anti Zionist probably more anti Zionist than JVP, Mondoweiss and the BDS together.Pfeffer points out that when Netanyahu returned to power in 2009 and formed a right-wing/ religious coalition, was when "the Jews prevailed — and have done so ever since in four consecutive elections, including the last one in April 2019."To illustrate this Pfeffer cites the 2012 Israeli High Court of Justice decision to deny a petition by writer Yoram Kaniuk and others to allow themselves to be registered solely as 'Israelis' as opposed to 'Jews.'Every so often we hear from one Torah rabbi or another that "Zionism is not Judaism." Those who have reached this point surely grasp that 'Zionism vs. Judaism' is a fake dichotomy. It serves to confuse and to divert questioning minds from the path toward an understanding of the conflict: In Israel Zionism is an empty concept, politically, ideologically and spiritually. Israel defines itself as 'The Jewish state' and orthodox rabbis are at the centre of this transition in Israeli politics and life.I guess that Abunimah and JVP were desperate to silence me at the time as they foolishly believed that shooting the messenger or alternatively burning books was the way forward for human rights activism. I stood firm. The observations I produced in 'The Wandering Who' were endorsed by the most profound thinkers associated with the conflict and the anti war movement. My observations are more relevant than ever and in Israel they have entered mainstream analysis. When it comes to Palestine solidarity we have managed to waste a good two decades of intellectual progress thanks to authoritarian lobbies operating in our midst. For truth and justice to prevail, we have to learn to speak the truth as we see it, and to accept JVP and Abumimah's apologies when they are mature enough to come clean.(3) Economist: Netanyahu has yet to realise he is no longer the magicianLord Rothschild and George Soros have been trying to get Netanyahu out - Peter M. time unluckyIsrael’s prime minister will desperately struggle to stay in officeBinyamin Netanyahu is down but not outSep 18th 2019BINYAMIN NETANYAHU spent the last two hours of voting in Israel’s general election on September 17th speaking through a camera to an online audience, begging people to come out and vote for Likud, his ruling party, before it was too late. "All the battles I fought as a soldier in an elite unit, all the battles I fought against a president of the United States [Barack Obama], all my other battles in Congress and at the United Nations—I did it for you. And now I’m asking you for something small. Go the polling station. It’s only a five-minute walk."As he wheedled and begged his voice grew hoarser. He took phone-calls from fans. Occasionally he stood up to gesture at a map of the Middle East on the wall, pointing to the menace of Iran. At one point, he mockingly showed puppets of his rivals. It was a bravura and sometimes bizarre performance of an embattled prime minister, frantic for every last vote. For the first time in over a decade he was staring at defeat. As the results came in, they confirmed that he had failed. Likud and the clutch of right-wing and religious parties backing him would lack a majority in the new Knesset.On May 30th, seven weeks after the previous election, Mr Netanyahu took the unprecedented step of dissolving the Knesset to call for a second election, since he was just one seat short of a majority in the 120-strong parliament. Now he is short by six.He had thrown everything at his foes. He had accused them of treasonous behaviour. He smeared Israel’s Arab citizens with allegations of voter-fraud (Facebook briefly suspended a chatbot on his page after a message accused Arabs of wanting "to destroy us all"). He promised his right-wing base that he would annex chunks of the occupied West Bank. And he tried to enlist other world leaders, including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, to endorse him. But this time it wasn’t enough. The man dubbed "the magician" for defying the odds to pull off improbable election victories had run out of tricks.About 54% of Israel’s voters, spanning the spectrum from Arab communists to Jewish nationalists, voted for parties opposed to Mr Netanyahu. Some are right-wingers who back many of Mr Netanyahu’s policies yet refused to vote for Likud or any of its allies. This was a personal rebuff.Ironically, a key constituency that helped bring him down was the Arab one, which he had tried to deter from voting with a law, which failed to pass, that would have let party officials film voters in polling-stations. The turnout of Arab voters rose by around ten percentage points. Their Joint List won three extra seats.Mr Netanyahu has not yet had to concede. He will remain in office as a caretaker prime minister until a new government is sworn in. That can take up to six weeks. Benny Gantz, a former general who leads the centrist Blue and White party, which is now narrowly the largest in the Knesset, lacks a majority too. Mr Netanyahu’s assorted opponents do not share enough common ground to form their own coalition government. Many Israelis refuse to consider the Arab parties as legitimate coalition partners, though a growing number of Arab voters want to play a bigger role.So Israeli politics looks deadlocked all over again. But there is a precedent for solving the conundrum. In 1984 neither Likud nor its main rival, the Labour party, could form a ruling coalition. Instead they agreed to a national-unity government with a "rotation" between Labour’s leader, Shimon Peres, and Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir, with each agreeing to serve two years of the prime minister’s term.This just might work again. Likud and Blue and White are nearly even in their tally of seats. Together they command a majority, which could be strengthened by a couple of other parties joining such a coalition. Mr Gantz is experienced in military matters, having commanded Israel’s army, but is a political novice. He could benefit from working with Mr Netanyahu.But big obstacles remain. On October 2nd Mr Netanyahu faces a pre-trial hearing before the attorney-general, which may herald criminal charges for bribery and fraud. Mr Gantz has promised not to serve under an indicted prime minister. Mr Netanyahu, however, hopes that by clinging to office he will be shielded from prosecution. Had he won even a narrow majority, he could have tried to pass a law granting immunity. That prospect is now fading.A third obstacle to forming a national-unity government is the former defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, a hardliner whose party, Yisrael Beitenu, broke last year with Mr Netanyahu’s coalition. He is now refusing to back either candidate for prime minister without a promise to pass a bunch of laws that would enrage the religious parties, who are Mr Netanyahu’s closest allies. Among these is a law that would conscript religious seminary students into the army. Another would force ultra-Orthodox schools to teach a national curriculum or lose state funding. And another would cancel a prohibition on shops from opening on the Sabbath, the sacred day of rest. Once notorious for vilifying Israeli-Arab citizens, Mr Lieberman can now be credited with bringing Mr Netanyahu down. As well as acting as kingmaker, he wants to establish himself as the champion of secular Israelis, who complain of the rabbis’ excessive influence in politics.But Mr Netanyahu is not going anywhere yet. Despite losing his majority twice this year and still facing indictments, he will try to stymie any attempt to form a coalition without him. He has yet to realise he is no longer the magician.