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

February 01, 2003

The Crisis of Israeli Politics

An article from The Hudson Institute indicates the present chaos in Israeli party politics.
...The fact that such a large block of Israeli voters chose to cast their vote on the basis of seemingly secondary issues in the 2003 elections points to some of the most worrisome aspects of Israeli politics today. Israelis have lost trust in politicians and the political system. The crisis is so severe that in a recent poll that asked adult Israelis to rank their level of trust of the political system, 65 percent ranked it as very low. Only 9 percent said they had a high level of trust in the system. Moreover, the large majority of Israelis now believe that their political system in inherently unstable. In the same poll, 40 percent of those asked believed that the next elections will take place within two years and 23 percent expected them to take place within a year, rather than the usual four years. This widespread attitude was reflected in the lowest voter turnout in the history of the Jewish state. Israeli voters expressed their frustration with the system by simply not going to the polls.The fact that such a large block of Israeli voters chose to cast their vote on the basis of seemingly secondary issues in the 2003 elections points to some of the most worrisome aspects of Israeli politics today. Israelis have lost trust in politicians and the political system. The crisis is so severe that in a recent poll that asked adult Israelis to rank their level of trust of the political system, 65 percent ranked it as very low. Only 9 percent said they had a high level of trust in the system. Moreover, the large majority of Israelis now believe that their political system in inherently unstable. In the same poll, 40 percent of those asked believed that the next elections will take place within two years and 23 percent expected them to take place within a year, rather than the usual four years. This widespread attitude was reflected in the lowest voter turnout in the history of the Jewish state. Israeli voters expressed their frustration with the system by simply not going to the polls.

It is now up to all the major Israeli parties to regain the voters’ trust. Cleaner, more stable politics will go a long way in regaining that necessary trust. But just as important is the parties’ ability to put an end to the division of society into a collection of hate-filled factions. Labor, Likud, and other parties will have to realize that since the collapse of Oslo’s dream of a new Middle East, Israelis were not given a new long-term vision for their country—its character or its future. Instead, the Israeli political system has been channeled into an intellectual dead-end that has given rise to the politics of hate and resentment. Only the injection of a new set of ideas and new visions will save Israel’s great old parties from further collapse and give Israeli [click here for full article]