Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Israeli Circus and the Upcoming Elections (Israeli 2013 Election Coverage, 5)

In the run up to elections, the Israeli political scene has proven to be as exciting as a Grand Circus. During the last month, we witnessed a great number of breathtaking political moves, such as Ehud Barak’s decision to “leave politics,” Tzipi Livni’s founding of a one-election party, the offended Amir Peretz, leaving the Labor party, only to join Livni, and the indictment and resignation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is poised to return in the near future.

Clearly, the ringmaster of this circus is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has proven once again that he is a superb politician, with all parties courting him even before the elections. In one ring, he has Shelly Yahimovich, Yair Lapid, and Tzipi Livni providing the opening act as the Center Acrobats: Shelly jumping up and down on a trampoline, Tzipi impressing all of us with her ability to do multiple somersaults, and Yair mesmerizing us with his steady tightrope performance. Oh, yes, we forgot Shaul Mofaz; due to his poor performance in auditions, he is the ticket collector, who doubles as the usher.

On the other side of the circus is the extreme right Jewish Home party, set to double their parliament seats in the elections, standing strong in the Lion’s Den. In coalition negotiations, Netanyahu may choose to open the cage and threaten the center parties to accept the consequences of a narrow right coalition being formed if they don’t compromise. Clearly, Netanyahu as the ringmaster does not really need the Center Acrobats; in addition to the Lion, he can rely on the boring elephants that for years just walk in circles, wanting only to be fed and kept warm by the state. Of course, I am referring to the Sephardic Shas party, and the United Torah Judaism Haredi party.

I forgot to mention that even if this circus invites all to participate as spectators, regardless of race, religions, or sexual preference, in order to take part in the circus itself, you must adhere to basic Zionist ideology. However, don’t worry. For anti-Zionists there is an alternative circus tent! It is often referred to as the “Arab Tent” and includes parties, such as Hadash (affiliated with Israeli Communist party), and Balad (a party calling for a liberal democracy based on citizenship), both which also find support among Israeli Jews. The Grand Circus does not interfere in the Arab Tent’s show on a regular basis; however, last week, its election committee disqualified MP Haneen Zoabi from participating in her own tent! This decision will most likely be overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court, who is in desperate need of the Arab Tent in order to justify Israel as a country where tents have equal rights.

It is within this Grand Circus that Israeli politics have played out for years, and it is a marvel how spectators year after year come and join the show.  There was a time last year, during the summer, when the circus sales dropped radically, with thousands of Israelis setting up opposing tents along Rothschild, demanding that a new circus be established. However, with little effort, the Ringmaster Netanyahu succeeded in convincing most to return, and now is set to run the show for another five years.   

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