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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 22, 2003

Friedman Votes

I am not so pleased with Friedman's column from Sunday "Israel Waits for Godot" His columns about Israeli elections are among his worst and this one is no exception. If we go back to 1996 after Netanyahu beat Peres we have ". . . And One Man Voted Twice." Friedman's title refers to Yigal Amir who first killed Yitzchak Rabin then was allowed to vote for Netanyahu. What Friedman ignored is that, at the time he was killed, Rabin was struggling against Netanyahu. Only the assassination and the resultant backlash against the Right made the election close. In 1999, he wrote "The Accidental Peacenik" about Netanyahu. While he was essentially on target about Netanyahu that, "[b]ut thanks, in part, to his own real success at winning better Palestinian security compliance, a majority of Israelis now accept Oslo," his tone mocking Netanyahu is abhorrent. Once the tough (or tougher) guy was out of office, the violence started up again. There has been no time since September 1993 that Israelis had more security or Palestinians had more prosperity than when Netanyahu was Prime Minister. Both were fleeting due to the bad faith of Arafat and the PA. Now Friedman quote Amram Mitzna approvingly, "They have lost confidence that you are able to negotiate with the other side, so they stick to what they know — even if it is not working. What I am trying to bring is logic and the truth, but people are thinking from their guts." Clearly he shares Mitzna's contempt for the Israeli public. After the PA has been revealed, without a doubt, to be an enemy and not a peace partner, "logic and truth" will show that Israel still has to bargain with the PA. Friedman claims that "I've never seen the Israeli public less interested in the two major parties — indeed, in the whole event." That's not true. That's not true. In 1999, when things were going swimmingly from Friedman's perspective Labor and Likud got 45 seats between them. It's safe to say that the number will be higher this time. True there's no longer the direct election law, which made other parties more attractive (vote for your party and your PM); but on numbers alone the election in 1999 generated about the same and possibly less interest toward the big parties. My own feeling is that the Likud strength, as usual, has been underestimated a bit in the polls and Likud will end up with at least 35 seats. I also suspect that both Labor and Shinui will end up with a bit less than is currently being projected.
Cross Posted to Doubting Thomas.