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Herzog and Netanyahu are likely to share power — because Herzog won’t share it with Arab List

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Chemi Shalev of Haaretz and Daniel Levy agree about the likely outcome of the Israeli elections. Rightwing Likud and the center-left Zionist Union will form a coalition. Levy explains that they will do so because the Arab List can’t be included in the governing coalition.


My assessment (current polls, no responsibility whatsoever) Bibi goes home, Herzog heads national unity, perhaps with rotation with Likud

Levy at the European CFR says this will come to pass because “the parties supported by the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel have been traditionally deemed unworthy coalition partners (a real Achilles heel of Israeli democracy and its lack of inclusivity).”

Three principal variations on coalition composition suggest themselves.

1.       A Netanyahu-led narrow, rightist government. This would see the Prime Minister stay in power with his more natural right-wing and religious allies forming a governing block with the Jewish Home Party of Naftali Bennett, the party of outgoing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, albeit a much diminished force, with the traditional ultra-Orthodox parties of Shas and the United Torah Judaism.But to get a majority of 61 seats, Netanyahu would also have to win over his former Likud colleague and now rival, Moshe Kahlon. It would be a prospect Kahlon is not enthusiastic about, and would likely exacerbate many of Israel’s problems with the international community, including with Israel’s closest allies. …

2.       A Herzog-led narrow, non-rightist coalition. This still looks extremely tricky and perhaps impossibly heterogeneous cobble. If Herzog and his potential allies were willing to work with the joint Arab List (a joint list of the three parties that have garnered the Palestinian-Israeli vote in recent elections, currently getting at least a dozen seats in the polls) whether as a formal part of a coalition or supporting the government with a set of understandings from the outside (a kind of confidence and supply arrangement) then the task would be easier. But the parties supported by the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel have been traditionally deemed unworthy coalition partners (a real Achilles heel of Israeli democracy and its lack of inclusivity). Barring an arrangement with the Joint Arab List, Herzog would somehow have to bring together the centrist Yair Lapid and his anti-clerical bent together with the ultra-Orthodox and the soft right of Moshe Kahlon, together with the secular party Meretz (or, alternatively, Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party). The Zionist camp, Lapid, Meretz, Kahlon, Shas, and United Torah Judaism together would pass the 61 coalition threshold but it would be a remarkable feat to pull off. Only if Herzog can build around a 4-plus seat margin over Likud, might it give the sense of a popular mandate to form such a coalition and to persuade the constituent parts to sign up.

3.       A Grand Coalition. The third and perhaps most likely option is a national unity coalition. That would see a coalition based around the Likud and Zionist camp, most likely led by Netanyahu although possibly on the basis of a rotation. The coalition numbers would then be filled out by a combination of Lapid, Kahlon and perhaps Lieberman and/or ultra-Orthodox. Labour would insist on excluding the Jewish Home and Yishai’s Kahanists, while Likud would make the same demand vis-à-vis Meretz. The Joint Arab List would likely be excluded from all sides. But even a grand coalition would be a hard sell within the respective Likud and Labour movements.

Again: “The Joint Arab List would likely be excluded from all sides.” I.e., Israel is a Jewish state, and Jewish parties make up the government, even when Palestinians make up nearly 20 percent of the population. Jim Crow. Not to be a doomsayer, but… Levy says there won’t be any real change in peace negotiations:

On the Palestinian front neither of the two main blocks have come up with anything resembling a coherent programmatic plan. Herzog has suggested he would work with the Egyptians to re-launch peace talks with the Palestinians. But the Zionist camp has also defined Israel’s problem as more one of image and reputation than the occupation itself  and policy substance, which suggests more investment will be made in making Israel appear better rather than definitively grappling with the occupation issue itself. The choice would seem to be between a doubling down on existing settlement and occupation policy, paralysis, or an attempt at some forward movement that would likely fall well short of a comprehensive deal and de-occupation. A centre-left government could pursue unilateral options alongside attempts at negotiations with the Palestinians and would likely be less provocative in the settlement arena, in withholding PA taxes, and in other punitive measures….If Herzog does become Prime Minister, the challenge for the international community will be to translate good will into meaningful change, something that Herzog’s government will not automatically embrace. And of course much will depend on what strategies the Palestinians themselves pursue.

Journalist Tal Schneider formerly of Maariv agrees with Levy. Here she is talking with Ori Nir of Peace Now about a candidates’ forum a few days ago. In two hours of candidate statements, the word peace was only mentioned near the very end, and that by Ayman Odeh of the Arab List. But “peace” used to be everywhere in elections, and in all the party slogans, Ori Nir says.

And Schneider explains how rightwing Israeli public opinion is [minute 23]:

Because of the war during the summer… Israeli people … they’re not looking at this Palestinian state as a state at peace with Israel…. It’s sad to day, but this is the reality right now. When you see the neighboring countries [Egypt, Syria, Kurds, Isis]… I think at best people are happy that the Palestinians are not rioting… Peace is not mentioned here on a regular basis anyways. And it will take a leader or something else in order to bring it back into the discourse. I don’t really see that happening in the near future. Because I feel like even if Herzog is elected and is the prime minister, and he is trying to change the discourse, you need a very vast public support to do something. And I don’t see the Israeli public right now supporting anything.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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58 Responses

  1. a blah chick on March 14, 2015, 11:18 am

    Last January one of the IDF companies that was based near Gaza said that they were pulling out. The people who lived near by went crazy and the thought that they would be at the mercy of the terra tunnels (cuz they’d been whipped into a frenzy by their government.) Th defense people said they did not have enough money to keep the troops on duty there. That same week the government transfered 70,000,000 shekels from the defense budget to the settlers.

    Some day the gravy train will end.

  2. just on March 14, 2015, 11:55 am

    How freaking depressing…

    I liked Gideon Levy’s musings much better:

    “…What better option is there for the Israeli voter who can no longer bear the occupation in the territories and the ultranationalism within Israel, of the ruse that Israel is both Jewish and democratic, of the injustices of present-day Zionism, and who perhaps has reached the conclusion that the two-state solution is dead? Who will they vote for?

    Are there many other party heads as impressive, eloquent and refreshing as Ayman Odeh? Are there many other MKs as outstanding as Ahmad Tibi, Jamal Zahalka, Dov Khenin and even, yes, even Haneen Zoabi? Is there another party that does not demand “support for Israel Defense Forces soldiers” at the start of every pointless war?

    If the overwhelming majority of Arabs vote for them, they will, for the first time, enter the heart of the political dialogue in Israel – to the annoyance of nearly all the other parties.

    If many Jews also vote for it, we can begin to speak of a “game changer,” and perhaps even of a good omen.

    Just imagine: The Joint List is the third largest party in the Knesset. The coalition belongs to Netanyahu, Herzog and Yair Lapid. Odeh is selected leader of the opposition…..

    The prime minister is obligated to brief him on security and diplomatic matters, “no less than once a month,” by law. The law requires him to address the Knesset after every speech by the premier. Foreign heads of state meet with him and listen to his views. As a symbol of government, he is protected by the Shin Bet security service. Perhaps for the first time in its history, Israel has a true leader of opposition.

    A few stereotypes will be shattered in a single, not-imaginary act that might also usher in a deep change in consciousness.

    Odeh could surprise us yet, as he already surprised many Israelis who were not even aware of the existence of the combinations “Arab and impressive,” “Palestinian and charming.” His party must get a lot of votes for this process to begin. His friends must support him and many Jews must choose the Israeli ANC, which could yet prove it has what it takes to prevent the establishment of a second apartheid state, the apartheid state of the Land of Israel.”

    • ritzl on March 14, 2015, 12:38 pm

      Thanks, just.

      G. Levy nails it yet again.

      Great info on the duties and briefing requirements of the Knesset opposition LEADER . (Even though it hasn’t happened yet, I love saying it… leader, Leader, LEADER!! See there?!)

      I hope many Jewish-Israelis do vote Joint List exactly as Levy suggests. This is truly an historic opportunity/step (i.e. not the N’u variety).

      • just on March 14, 2015, 12:47 pm

        The prospect is so enchanting/exciting, isn’t it?

        (“leader, Leader, LEADER!!”)

    • Kathleen on March 15, 2015, 2:03 pm

      Thanks Just.

  3. Krauss on March 14, 2015, 12:07 pm

    Yesh Atid and Kulanu, the two supposedly “centrist” parties have both ruled out being with Arabs. Without an Arab party, Labor has no way out. Lieberman is never going to go with them.

    Labor needs Likud but Likud does not need Labor.

    Bibi isn’t going to go anywhere. Nobody can replace him from Likud. Shalev is just speaking drivel, channeling his own wishful thinking.

    If Likud ends up with Labor it’ll be beacause Bibi wants to. If he says no, Labor has no other way out. Bibi does.


    Just to illustrate. Take the most pro-Labor polls out there in recent days:

    4-seat lead. But take a look at the coalition math at the end. The numbers in brackets is the current seats. So again: even when you cherry-pick the best pro-Labor polls, the net result is that the far-right get better results than in the last Knesset.

    Tell me again how Labor is going to set the agenda.

    • just on March 14, 2015, 6:07 pm

      Long(ish) article with Bibi being Bibi on teevee today, and a lot more stuff. Concludes this way, and to your point Krauss:

      “Lieberman: Odeh is liar and a traitor

      …The Joint List’s Odeh was asked about statements made by the head of the List’s communication unit Raja Za’atra, according to which the Islamic State draws inspiration from Zionism. “I don’t accept historical comparisons,” Odeh said. “The crimes that accompanied the establishment of the state of Israel were committed. If Israel recognized those crimes it would benefit all of its citizens.”

      Yisrael Beiteinu’s Lieberman, who entered the studio as Odeh was leaving, called the Joint List leader “a liar and a traitor.””

    • spencerhr on March 14, 2015, 7:04 pm

      Well said. Without the Arab parties on board, there is no way that Herzog could build a viable coalition. Meretz is not going to sit in the same government as Lieberman, and the ultra-Orthodox are not going to be in the same place as Yair Lapid.

      Unless, of course, one of the center-left parties gets a very large surge.

  4. OyVey00 on March 14, 2015, 1:08 pm

    Israeli calls for nuclear strikes on Iran and Germany:

    Hurr durr, who was the danger to world peace again?

  5. David Doppler on March 14, 2015, 3:16 pm

    Herzog was grilled at the Saban Conference, by Haim Saban himself, about how his numbers didn’t look like they could add up, right – left, and he was fascinating to watch and listen to. The gist was that it is a mistake to look at the parties by a simple left-right divide, as we tend to in the US. It is coalition building, a process we don’t generally use. Minister-slots or other promises to keep are horse-traded for support. [well worth the watch for those who don’t yet know him, as I didn’t,]

    So I see it as a multi-step process: first the election, then the designation by the President of one party leader to seek to form a coalition, then a coalition-building-horse-trading free-for-all, with the possibility that the designee gets changed mid-course, as happened last time.

    As to the Arab Parties, I understand they also decline to take minister slots, maybe as a pre-emptive move, in light of the unlikelihood of them being offered. But they’ve united this time in seeking a change at the top, and are willing to vote their seats for new leadership, a unifying, get-out-the-vote message for them, so I’m not sure whether the past treatment of United Arab Parties as irrelevant is indelibly written as applying this time. They are 13 seats or so that only require “anybody but Netanyahu (or presumably Bennett or Lieberman).” Those votes will apparently be there for a change at the top, with or without minister slots, and without participation in the governing coalition, offered or accepted. Herzog was generous in his description of the Arab Palestinians as comprising every Christian and Muslim sect with deep cultural diversity, blunt in his belief that coalition building begins with respect for each faction.

    To me, the government needs to shake off the dismal failures of the hard right, of Netanyahu trying to avoid being outflanked by Bennett and Lieberman on his right, the culture based on fear of terrorists, fear of Iran, racism rampant. Those people need to be disempowered, just as the Neocon grip on Washington needs to end.

    Kulanu could do that by joining the Zionist Front. Can that happen?

    Here’s a recent interview of Moshe Kahlon of Kulanu, on i24.

    In it he sounds entirely consistent with Herzog. He entered government to make social change. He succeeded famously slashing the cost of cell phone service to 1/20th of what it had been (some privileged monopolist got a poke in the eye?). He then left Likud, his Sephardic home, because, according to the interview, it abandoned the social purpose he’d entered government for. Lucy, the interviewer, digs into his own Sephardic roots, could you possibly betray Likud by joining Herzog, burning your bridges for future Likud leadership, abandoning your Sephardic home in an Israel that is us vs them, Arabs vs Jews, Ashkenazi vs Sephardim, and he emphatically answers that it is time to put those divisions behind us, that he does not feel discriminated against, that his party’s platform of solving social issues will go to whichever coalition commits to achieving them.

    I read it that he is in play for Herzog, especially a Herzog that is intensely pragmatic about solving the problems of the various factions. One can look at Kahlon’s move to abandon Likud as the beginning of the fall of Netanyahu’s Likud.

    What if Herzog put together a vast coalition, including both Yesh Atid, Kulanu, from the right, the Arab parties, and a passel of smaller factions with not-entirely-inconsistent priorities. A vast, diverse coalition dedicated to change, to social progress, to peace, security through resolving issues, instead of “mowing the grass,” to mending Israel’s relationship with the US, to restoring Israel’s place in the international community after the destruction wrought by Netanyahu-Likud-Neoconism?

    The electorate seems so feckless contemplating more leadership from the old crowd. That trajectory has run out of steam. A vote for change could be the big message at the ballot box. Then Herzog will be negotiating from a position of strength. Netanyahu, suddenly turned weak by his excessive display in Congress, its stupidity resonating in the electorate, not as merits for Bibi, but as demerits for entrusting Israel’s future to someone who would make a public display of his ability to manipulate stupid US representatives in front of their own electorate. Yes, Bibi, you’ve shown the world how stupid and corrupt the Congress is, how easily you can move them. Thank you very much. Here’s the door.

    • MRW on March 14, 2015, 5:40 pm

      David Doppler,

      Herzog was grilled at the Saban Conference, by Haim Saban himself, about how his numbers didn’t look like they could add up, right – left, and he was fascinating to watch and listen to. … [well worth the watch for those who don’t yet know him, as I didn’t,]

      I clicked on the Saban Conference link yesterday just to see what Herzog looked like and wound up watching the whole thing. Herzog is a breath of fresh air. The differences in intelligence, nuance, awareness, pragmatism, and plain political savvy between Netanyahu and Herzog is stunning. I came away thinking, Gee, I can go back to my regular televised life if this guy wins. Israel would be in good hands for the first time in decades.

      Edit: my last sentence sounds a little hyperbolic, but I still feel the same way today. I also realized that Herzog’s biggest hurdle would be the Sabans and Adelsons directing his leadership from over here, and it was interesting to watch him handle Saban and his questions.

      • David Doppler on March 15, 2015, 11:59 am

        “Herzog is a breath of fresh air. The differences in intelligence, nuance, awareness, pragmatism, and plain political savvy between Netanyahu and Herzog is stunning.”

        Couldn’t agree more. And Kahlon is worth watching, too. A man who oozes competence, integrity, and dedication to public service, wanting to focus only on improving society, who abandoned Netanyahu because Likud’s focus was “elsewhere.”

        What poisoned Livni’s leadership was trying to avoid being outflanked on security issues by the Right, who cannot be outflanked politically on that side. The Right – Netanyahu, Bennett, Lieberman – needs to be silenced by the Gatekeepers, and other grizzled veterans, who understand the tragedy of strength in service of stupid ideology.

        The rabbis need to support Herzog, as well, because some of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem are about to be horse-traded for a lasting peace.

      • seafoid on March 15, 2015, 12:03 pm

        Jesus Christ.
        “Herzog is a breath of fresh air.” He’s pure PR bullshit.

        the occupation is like one of those cheap Chinese toys that breaks down. It can’t be dismantled and repaired.
        The occupation is forever.
        That is how it was designed.

        Herzog is going to go to Hevron and tell the Jews there that the dream is over, is he? And he’ll put down the IDF mutiny too, with 40% of the officers pro settler, will he ?

      • just on March 15, 2015, 12:17 pm

        +1, seafoid.

      • Kathleen on March 15, 2015, 2:05 pm

        ok going to listen

      • David Doppler on March 15, 2015, 3:54 pm

        Yeah, and slavery was forever, too.

  6. David Doppler on March 14, 2015, 4:25 pm

    In short, this election pits ideology vs pragmatism. And a failed ideology at that.

    • Mooser on March 15, 2015, 1:28 pm

      Pragmatism? Pragmatism is good, but it won’t get past the kind of deep structural problems Israel has.

      • seafoid on March 15, 2015, 3:04 pm

        Pragmatism is deckchair shifting on board the titanic to get more sun.

      • MRW on March 15, 2015, 5:52 pm
  7. Walid on March 15, 2015, 5:17 am

    Mayhem February 22, 2015, 5:20 pm “@walid, referring to Israel’s pals at ISIS is this a stupid misprint or have you decided to join the league of offensive commenters who resort to bullsh*t to make their case. ”

    OT but for lack of another place to post this for Thomas Mayhem’s benefit, as reported in the WSJ and picked up by the JPost a couple of days ago, it describes how ISIS is Israel’s pal. Not picked up by the JPost, for obvious reasons, is WSJ’s comment how a divide is being created by the US fighting of ISIS while Israel continues providing it with logistic and air cover:

    “Report: Israel treating al-Qaida fighters wounded in Syria civil war
    Jerusalem Post March 13, 2015

    Israel has opened its borders with Syria in order to provide medical treatment to Nusra Front and al-Qaida fighters wounded in the ongoing civil war, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    The prominent American newspaper reported that Nusra Front, the Sunni Muslim al-Qaida offshoot which is currently fighting the Iranian-backed axis of Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, “hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer” along the Golan Heights.

    While Israel views al-Qaida and its allies as enemies, it is far more disturbed by what it views as an even bigger menace – Iran and its proxies. According to The Wall Street Journal, this attitude has caused tension with the United States, which has also targeted al-Qaida and Nusra Front fighters in Syria.

    Amos Yadlin, the former military intelligence chief who is currently in the running to be defense minister should the Zionist Union, led by Isaac Herzog, succeed in defeating incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the elections next week, told the Journal that Hezbollah and Iran “are the major threat to Israel, much more than the radical Sunni Islamists, who are also an enemy.”

    “Those Sunni elements who control some two-thirds to 90% of the border on the Golan aren’t attacking Israel. This gives you some basis to think that they understand who is their real enemy – maybe it isn’t Israel,” Yadlin is quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying.

    The fact that the Israel-Syria border area along the Golan Heights has remained largely quiet has sparked accusations among supporters of embattled President Bashar Assad that the Sunni Islamist alliance, which includes al-Qaida, is backed by Israel…”

    • seafoid on March 15, 2015, 2:21 pm

      YESHA is Israel’s biggest threat. It speaks Hebrew and it is Jewish so they don’t notice.

  8. just on March 15, 2015, 8:30 am

    Thanks, Walid. So strange that a BFF would do that, isn’t it?

    Gideon Levy:

    “To see how racist Israel has become, look to the left

    The new levels of Arab-hatred being displayed are shocking, and so are the Israeli public’s acceptance of them.

    Israel’s “chocolate flight” — the political equivalent of the recent incident, a video of which went viral, in which Israeli passengers cursed out and threatened a flight attendant for refusing to sell them duty-free chocolate ahead of other passengers — lands on Tuesday, the cabin messier and filthier than ever. There have been dirtier and more violent election seasons here, but none so ultranationalist and racist. The curse of racism spread far beyond the far right: Note what was said (and unsaid) by the left and the center.

    We must start, of course, with that great language polluter Avigdor Lieberman. His Hebrew is broken, his English a farce, his expressions repellent in any language. Even worse than his vicious excoriations, which have reached a new nadir, is Israelis’ apathy to them.

    The foreign minister said “Those who are against us … we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head,” aiming his ax at Arab Israelis. Such a remark would end the career and guarantee lifetime ostracism of any Western statesman. Only superannuated African dictators speak of axes and beheading — and the leaders of Islamic State, of course. But such is the intellectual, cultural and moral world of Israel’s foreign minister, a bully who was once convicted of physically assaulting a child. The world can’t understand how Lieberman’s remark was accepted with such equanimity in Israel, where some highly-regarded commentators still believe this cynical, repellent politician is a serious, reasonable statesman.

    No less repugnant was his savaging, in a televised debate, of Joint List leader Iman Odeh, whom he called a “fifth column” and told, “you’re not wanted here,” “go to Gaza.” None of the other party heads taking part, including those of leftist and centrist slates, leader in the debate, stepped in to stop Lieberman’s tirade. (Zehava Galon of Meretz denounced it later.) Silence is tantamount to an admission of guilt. We are all Lieberman. On this flight, there is neither shaming nor a sense of shame.

    The racism of the campaign season has been planted well beyond the rotten, stinking gardens of Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Eli Yishai and Baruch Marzel. It is almost everywhere. Our cities have recently been contaminated by posters whose evil messages are nearly on a par with the slogans “Kahane was right” and “death to Arabs.”

    “With BibiBennett, we’ll be stuck with the Palestinians forever,” threaten the posters plastered on every overpass and hoarding, on behalf of the Peace and Security Association of National Security Experts. …

    “We’ll be stuck with the Palestinians forever”? Yes. The Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. Even if a Palestinian state is established, some of them will remain in Israel. What are the country’s Arabs supposed to feel when they see such hateful ads directed against them? And what’s so bad about being “stuck” with them? Are they infected with some disease? Being stuck with Lieberman is much worse.

    Such is the state of public discourse in Israel. Yair Lapid and “the Zoabis,” in reference to Haneen Zoabi, Moshe Kahlon who says he won’t sit in a government coalition “with the Arabs,” Isaac Herzog who will conduct coalition negotiations with all the parties with the exception of the Arab ones, Tzipi Livni and her obsession with her Jewish — and also nationalistic and ugly — state. Even the dear and beloved (to me) Amos Oz, who in Haaretz (“Dreams Israel should abandon — fast,” March 13) called for a “fair divorce” from the Palestinians. He has the right not to believe in the prospects for a shared life, we must call for their liberation, but to call for a divorce without asking the Palestinians what they want rings with a rejection of them. And what about Israel’s Arab citizens? How are they supposed to feel when one of the most important intellectuals of Israel’s peace camp says he wants a divorce? Are they to remain among us as lepers?

    Because that’s how it is on chocolate flights. The bullies riot and the other passengers remain silent, whether from fear or assent, until they become a single voice, the voice of the bully.”

    So, who wants to visit/move to Israel? Raise your hand.

  9. MRW on March 15, 2015, 10:16 am


    You wrote:

    Herzog and Netanyahu are likely to share power — because Herzog won’t share it with Arab List

    I don’t agree with you. IF he wins, he might. Are you willing to make a $0.25 bet?

    EDIT: Herzog’s 12/2014 Saban Conference talk was remarkable for indicating the unpredictability of this man; not the consistency, the unpredictability. I was wrong about J Street; I thought they would be forward-thinking. I’ve been wrong about so many directions on this site so far. Still, I think Herzog would include the Arab List, or whatever it’s called. Wanna’ know why?

    He would have already won.

    • Kathleen on March 15, 2015, 1:26 pm

      13 Arab Israeli’s Knesset Members right now? I think that is right.

    • ritzl on March 15, 2015, 5:43 pm

      Thanks for explaining, MRW.

      I have to ask, different style, yes, unpredictable, maybe, but to what end, either?

      Is he THAT different to conceive and implement a new direction?

      I realize the vid DD linked to was done right after the call for elections and therefore he was going to be vague about partnering and stuff, but he was pretty clear about more two-state process (trust-building…) and Arabs quiet and outside gov’t (i.e. no leverage-no change… accept their place, imo), and centrist political mass going forward (rules out J/L inclusion).

      I don’t know, maybe Herzog is just that good a politician (it may be genetic), but if Phil doesn’t take the bet, I will.

      Appreciate’cha (and DD too).

  10. David Doppler on March 15, 2015, 12:34 pm

    I also disagree that Herzog and Netanyahu will share power. In a lengthy facebook entry translated by +972, Bibi is making the election explicitly about the risk of peace based on the 67 borders, mocked there as paranoid ramblings. “Only LIkud” can stave off this catastrophe, he pleads as Israelis prepare to go to the polls.

    Does Herzog deny that he will make peace? No. Does Kahlon say he cares about security/peace? No. He cares about social issues, as Yair Lapid has for years.

    Newshour had a good segment about the Israeli electorate Friday, at long last addressing the possibility that Netanyahu would lose. My favorite quotes from people on the street:

    “Yes, Bibi is strong. So what?”

    “Yes, Israel is surrounded by enemies. I do not fear our enemies. I fear our leadership.”

    The election is a referendum on Netanyahu, who explicitly makes it about avoiding the risk of peace. A big Herzog win will say, “it is time.”

    • echinococcus on March 16, 2015, 3:50 am

      «A big Herzog win will say, “it is time.”»
      Big, fat, hairy deal. He’ll say it, as the past mass murderers have said it for the last 68 years or so, and continue invasion and genocidal action just as his predecessors from the mass-murdering “left” have done for all these years. What kind of stupid do we have to be to fall for this?
      For Palestinian liberation, the best election result right now is a Likud win, certainly not that of a PR operation that would reconcile Zionists with the European public without any change on the ground.

  11. seafoid on March 15, 2015, 12:54 pm

    Petraeus used to ask (before he met Broadwell) “tell me how this ends”.
    Israel has spent over $100bn on YESHA. One in 5 Israeli Jews is a settler. There is no form of words or TV ad or political program that can undo that .
    When the Russians were at the gates of Berlin senior Nazis made overtures to the Americans offering to lead an interim post Hitler government. It is very hard for ideologues to come back to reality when the memes die.

    YESHA could have been strangled at birth but nobody had the balls. The Golem is very powerful now.
    The essence of tragedy lies in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things.

    • Mooser on March 15, 2015, 1:32 pm

      “Petraeus used to ask (before he met Broadwell) “tell me how this ends”.

      Wasn’t it just last week that Petraeus found ut how it ends after he met Broadwell? He got canned and convicted.
      Just a tangent, but it was nice.

  12. Kathleen on March 15, 2015, 1:30 pm

    Phil/all..if you have not all ready read the WaPo opinion piece “War with Iran is probably our best option” an insane doozy. Comments section flying.

  13. seafoid on March 15, 2015, 4:10 pm

    Israel is a car crash surrounded by disaster and wrapped in catastrophe.
    Herzog might be able to improve its colouring. Lapid couldn’t even do that.

  14. piotr on March 15, 2015, 4:13 pm

    I think that United Arab List will not agree to join a government, nor there would be enough Zionist parties that would agree to that. However, some list of requirements can be agreed upon in exchange of “external support”. Even that would raise fury of the extremists. It could be like year 1922 in Poland — president elected by both chambers of the Parliament, with narrow majority including all representatives of the minorities. Elected on Sunday, killed on Saturday.

    However, what can change the arithmetic of coalition forming if either Yachad or Yisrael Beitenu fail to get enough votes. Both polled on the borderline. In particular, the demise of YB would be a delicious irony (Lieberman promoted the idea of increasing the requirement). Besides changing the outcome, it would be a symbolic blow the the far right.

    Additionally, Likud is a veritable vampire of a party, except of Bennet, all its coalition partners were loosing support, Labor went through that, YB and Yesh Atid. That may give a pause to the idea of “grand coalition”.

    Alternative scenario is that the National Camp will not loose seats by the collapse of Yachad or BY, and they will make enough concessions to the religious parties to form a majority. Which would be umpteenth time of Israel forming the most extremist government ever, a scenario that offers some positive outcomes.

  15. Bornajoo on March 15, 2015, 4:58 pm

    “Israel is a car crash surrounded by disaster and wrapped in catastrophe. Herzog might be able to improve its colouring. Lapid couldn’t even do that.”

    +1 Seafoid!

    The Herzog effect is doing exactly what it says on the tin. And it’s also working on some of the MW commentators too because apparently he’s a breath of fresh air.

    And what is the herzog effect? It’s very simple. It’s being Netanyahu without the international damage. It’s making sure you don’t announce illegal settlement building the day that Kerry or Biden arrives in tel aviv. It’s about holding meaningless and endless ‘peace talks’ so that the international community can relax. . It’s about prolonging and continuing the occupation but making sure that the victims are 100% to blame, not the criminal occupiers. It’s about repairing the damage done by Netanyahu on the USA-israel relationship by never publicly disrespecting a USA president. It’s about never being really honest and truthful about the real agenda like those ‘idiots’ in the right wing who are too honest for their own good. It’s about continuing and strengthening the decades old occupation without the nuisance of international pressure and the threat of bds. And finally it’s about being a breath of fresh air after the stink caused by Netanyahu and his right wing cronies.

    There is a marked difference in awareness about the i/p situation in the last couple of years and there is now a much better understanding and higher level of support for the Palestinian cause. This has come about due to the fact that there has been a brutally honest right wing government in power exposing the TRUE face of Israel for all to see. This gain in support will be rolled back and diminished if Herzog and Livni take over but the plight of the Palestinians will not improve. It will lead to yet another bitter anti climax for a people who have had nothing but anti climaxes in their struggle for freedom and dignity.

    Call me cynical but I won’t trust one of these liars because unfortunately they are all the same. Nothing would make me happier than to be proved wrong but it just won’t happen.

    • seafoid on March 15, 2015, 5:05 pm

      Until some Israeli politician with a lovely smile and commanding poll lead comes along and says what Israel does in Gaza is abominable and a defilement of Judaism , Israel is doomed.
      Window dressing can’t change the dynamic. Nobody has the balls to spell out the truth to Yossi. So they sidestep it.

      Obama can’t change the plutocrat takeover of the US or the buildup to the next crash which will be far worse than the last.

      • MRW on March 15, 2015, 5:54 pm

        Seafoid (I’m an enormous fan of your cast-of-mind)

        Herzog doesn’t have to change Israel. It was plain to me in the talk I watched that he knows he can’t. He has to change American Jews, and Fox News.

      • seafoid on March 16, 2015, 5:53 am


        Even if Herzog did defang the rich Jewish warmongers and get through to Phil’s mother’s generation, how would that change the situation in Israel ?
        Who is going to tell Yossi that it was all bullshit ? Who is going to shoulder the burden of change ?
        This is why catastrophes happen- much easier to just plough on and hope for the best.

      • MRW on March 16, 2015, 6:12 am


        You honestly think Israel would be going down the same path if the Christian Zios and American Jews withdrew their support? The Israelis are so assured of it now that they know they could behead Palestinians in the street and ram knives up pregnant Pal wombs and there wouldn’t be one word of outrage or disgust from our government or media. There isn’t a chance you change Israel from within.

        Israeli bad behavior is controlled and approved from the US.

      • seafoid on March 16, 2015, 8:14 am

        I think Israel’s core problem of abuse is pathological. If the Yanks pulled their support they would whine anti-Semitism.
        They are living in some sort of dream world mediated via Hebrew that nobody else understands.

      • seafoid on March 16, 2015, 10:27 am


        This song reminds me of Yossi Israeli. American cover is one thing but Yossi votes for cruelty every time and that’s his responsibility.

        who’s going to listen to you whine about nonexistent existential threats tonight, Yossi ?

      • MRW on March 16, 2015, 2:55 pm

        This song . . . .


  16. catalan on March 15, 2015, 6:11 pm

    He has to change American Jews, and Fox News. MRW
    I am waiting with bated breath to see how Herzog will change me.

    • MRW on March 16, 2015, 6:13 am


      There’s a big difference between macro and micro.

    • seafoid on March 16, 2015, 8:31 am

      You’re probably beyond saving Catalan. Maybe he might sort you out with a hospice.

      • catalan on March 16, 2015, 8:59 am

        Seafoid why would I need saving. I am plugged into the power network. Heck, I am the power network, right? It’s all a phone call away for me. Just tell me your desired Fed interest rate and it will happen tomorrow. I am chosen, if you know what I am sayin’.

      • just on March 16, 2015, 10:24 am

        You missed a question mark in your rather odd post, catalan.

  17. just on March 15, 2015, 6:12 pm

    “Netanyahu at Tel Aviv rally: There is a real danger a left-wing government will rise to power

    Police estimate some 15,000 people gather at right-wing demo in Rabin Square; Bennett: Herzog will divide Jerusalem.”

    (scroll down for scary picture of voter!)

    • Bornajoo on March 15, 2015, 6:57 pm

      Thanks Just. And there he is openly stating that he will never divide Jerusalem (in a complete contradiction to what he said in 2009) which means absolutely no 2 state solution and he also says he will continue building settlements in the whole of Jerusalem, East and West. So he is now admitting in front of the world that all the overtures he made about peace was (as we all already knew) a complete crock of Shit and admitting that he led everyone up the garden path for nothing. His election platform is no state for the Palestinians and more illegal building!

      Where is the outrage from the USA and the rest of the international community?

      • just on March 15, 2015, 7:08 pm

        The repubs are busy fretting about the future of their leader, Netanyahu, while trying to undermine their sitting President and their country. The dems are not doing much better~ they are only worried about their own jobs come 2016. Most of the western powers are preoccupied with the nonexistent rise in you-know-what, and instead of dealing with crises, they are busy manufacturing/fomenting the next one.

        Jane and Dick and their kids are just too busy.

        (yes, I am deeply cynical and ticked off today… made more so because of the news that Kate has reported and some comments I have read on sites today… and the fact that I can’t see any of the “leaders” running for election in Israel telling the truth nor committed to a fair/just peace.)


        “Report: Tony Blair to resign post as Middle East peace envoy

        Former British prime minister currently negotiating different position within Middle East Quartet, sources tell Financial Times.”

        Now, that is something to smile about!!

      • just on March 15, 2015, 8:03 pm

        Bornajoo~ now that it is completely out in the open and most of us know that nobody else will do differently, it is time for citizens to lobby their governments to impose sanctions on Israel, withhold $$$, withhold the veto, and more. No more visits, no more daily phone calls, no more “peace” industry as it has been conducted. Treat them like the outlaw state that they are.


      • Bornajoo on March 15, 2015, 8:05 pm

        +1 Just!
        I’ll be writing to some mp’s here for sure.

      • oldgeezer on March 16, 2015, 12:15 am

        “Where is the outrage from the USA and the rest of the international community?”

        Where’s the outrage from the zionist cult members who try to convince us that they want peace and support the 2S solution.

        I guess stealing land and oppressing people takes up a lot of time/ What other defence can they pretend to have.

  18. Kathleen on March 15, 2015, 6:50 pm

    A great deal being written about Israeli’s being dissatisfied with economy etc. Does anyone think there is a possibility that they are concerned about the strong possibility that Israel will become even more isolated, that the BDS movement will continue to grow and that the embedded apartheid system will become more exposed?

    We know that polls showed that the majority of Israeli’s approved of what went on in the Gaza this past summer. However the fact that the US MSM did not tip toe around the killing of several thousand Palestinians last summer and there was more outrage than ever before in the U.S. Does anyone think that this is getting to the average Israeli?

    • Bornajoo on March 15, 2015, 6:54 pm

      “Does anyone think that this is getting to the average Israeli?”

      Not the Israelis I know Kathleen. They are more concerned about the price of cottage cheese than dead Palestinians.

  19. just on March 15, 2015, 10:36 pm

    “Rightist rally proves: Likud turned from party of the masses to party of settlers

    Whoever walked around Rabin Square and the surrounding streets Sunday night could not be confused about the makeup of the crowd of 25,000 at the right-wing rally. The majority of the audience was young people wearing knitted skullcaps. There were some Likud placards at the rally, but the dominant color was the green on the signs of Habayit Hayehudi.

    The person who introduced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the rally’s organizer, right-wing activist Daniella Weiss, who is considered extreme and controversial even among the settler leadership. She has called on soldiers to refuse orders, supports the “hilltop youth” and has in recent years accused Netanyahu of being a leftist who will withdraw from the territories.

    The rally was perhaps the last card Netanyahu could play in the “Gevalt” campaign he is conducting to try to close the gap that developed over the past week between Zionist Union and Likud. Netanyahu’s appearance at last night’s event demonstrated where he is seeking the votes that he hopes will prevent his defeat. He has moved to the right and abandoned the political center.

    But more than anything the rally testified to the current state of Likud. It has turned from the party of the masses to the party of the settlers.”

    Freakazio Daniella Weiss. Says it all.

  20. catalan on March 16, 2015, 11:31 am

    Just, I was referring to seafoid’s oft repeated observation that the last four chairs of the Fed have been Jews, which bugs him immensely and is the reason for our social ills including poverty and So you think you can dance. Since we are such a small community and I am pretty qualified I thought I might put my hat out there.

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