The Israeli Elections

THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS….As an outsider who generally finds Israeli politics too byzantine to truly understand, I was a little surprised to hear that turnout for Tuesday’s election had been so low. In the LA Times today, Yossi Klein Halevi suggests that it’s because there’s not much left for anyone to argue about anymore:

Tuesday’s election marked the end of the two visions that together animated Israeli political debate for the last three decades: the left-wing dream of a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians that would bring Israel the first real peace in its 58-year modern history, and the right-wing dream of a “Greater Israel” that would fulfill an ancient longing to return to the biblical land and, at the same time, give Israel the safety it needs to survive.

This was the first campaign in memory in which talk of peace was nearly absent. Previously, even right-wing politicians felt obliged to argue that their hard-line politics would bring a more durable peace. But now, with the rise of the Hamas in the Palestinian territories, even the left couldn’t manage to sing the old peace songs.

Halevi argues that although the old arguments were a form of “fantasy politics,” the new politics are scarcely better: a universally gloomy acceptance of a walled-off country permanently at war with it neighbors, with no real belief that things will ever get any better. The arguments now are only over the details, and that makes voting barely worthwhile.