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Our View on the Israeli Elections
Last uploaded : Wednesday 29th Jan 2003 at 03:17
Contributed by : The Editors



The election in Israel is now over and the fallout is already being measured by the world media. Amongst the more remarkable characters to emerge from the election campaign is the charismatic Tommy Lapid, leader of the Shinui party, who came away with sixteen Knesset seats. This makes Shinui the third most popular party in Israel. Were one to add together the seats won by Meretz, Shinui and Labour they would outnumber those of the Likud. But let us not enter into a head count. Trying to comprehend Israeli politics can be an exercise dangerous to one?s health.

This website endorsed Amram Mitzna. We are sorry he did not win. However, the admirable speech he delivered and the impressive interview given by Tommy Lapid gave us hope that the Sharon government will see sense and end the cycle of violence. Indeed, Ariel Sharon?s speech contained moments of inspiration that we pray he will follow through in practice. His impassioned reminder to his raucous supporters (I will never forget what it was like to be in Likud headquarters when Netanyahu ran against Peres in 1996) that the Jewish people must unite against their biggest enemy, terror, did inspire some boos. Incredible as it may be, the hawk Sharon could unite with parties whose platforms evoke horror amongst the religious right, but it is also likely that Labour will not join a coalition. Frankly, my sentiments are with Shinui.

I will end there ? as ?The Jewish Exponent? newspaper of Philadelphia warned us in the Diaspora a few weeks ago with great passion and some considerable ire, it is a chutzpah for us to opine on the Israeli elections. I happen to disagree with the Exponent; Israel belongs to every Jew and is in our hearts wherever we may be. In the past few days twenty Palestinians have been killed during incursions in Gaza and the West Bank. In the past month an equal number of victims of Palestinian terror died within Israel. This has to stop.

We are watching one of the most tragic periods in Israeli history. We call on President Bush to engage with the region on a path of peace and to use every ounce of ability he possesses to bring stability to the Gulf. We pray that war can be avoided in his pursuit of Iraq. This may be a naive wish on our part; we feel that if war must be the option we must grit our teeth and hope the campaign is a success. But if the path Bush, the Pentagon and his Generals follow goes awry the consequences will be disastrous for the region and for Israel.

I do not like the fact that my beloved elderly Israeli friends who emigrated to Palestine in 1932 are ?terrified? and that they feel ?this is the end.? I have never heard them speak this way ? not ever ? and this is enough to make me wish for a different path than the one Sharon has been travelling this past year.

We ask all readers to pray for ? the peace of the brave. ? Yes, this is Arafat?s expression, but as in the tragic Northern Ireland situation, bravery is the quality every participant must possess if we are to see our beloved Jewish homeland survive. In ?The Independent? newspaper of today, there is an interview with the man the journalist describes as ?Israel?s greatest director,? David Levin, who is about to direct ?Peer Gynt? in London. Levin says, ?In Israel, art is not simply culture or entertainment ? it?s a matter of life and death.? What other country in that region can boast of such an enlightened cultural life? Israel is in an economic slump and is riven by divisions within and by terror from within and without. Europe is experiencing an upsurge of anti-Jewish feeling unprecedented since the Second World War. This is not the destiny our grandparents wanted for the Diaspora or for the Jewish State.

We call on Ariel Sharon to take as his example the man he often quotes ? Yitzhak Rabin ? and listen to all the voices around him. Violence begets violence, and though we in these columns have supported the policies of the Israeli government for two years, we ask its leaders to seek a new path so that our grandchildren may have a peaceful, safe and prosperous land they may call their own for eternity.


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