Posts Tagged ‘Naftali Bennett’


An edited version of this article appeared first at LobeLog.

They were dueling op-eds, one in the New York Times and the other in the Jewish communal magazine, Tablet. The question being

Nationalistic signs at Salute to Israel Day in New York, July 2006 Photo by Rabih/Public Domain

Nationalistic signs at Salute to Israel Day in New York, July 2006
Photo by Rabih/Public Domain

bandied between them was whether Israel is becoming a theocracy. Not surprisingly, both pieces missed the mark. It’s not theocracy but unbridled nationalism that is the threat in Israel.

The Times piece was authored by Abbas Milani, who heads the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University and Israel Waismel-Manor, a lecturer at Haifa University who is currently a visiting associate professor of Political Science at Stanford. Their thesis is that Iran and Israel are moving in opposite directions on a democratic-theocratic scale, and that they might at some point in the future pass each other. Milani and Waismel-Manor are certainly correct about the strengthening forces of secularism and democracy in Iran, along with a good dose of disillusionment and frustration with the revolutionary, Islamic government that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ushered in thirty-five years ago. But on Israel, they miss the mark by a pretty wide margin.

Waismel-Manor and MIlani posit that the thirty seats currently held in Israel’s Knesset by religious parties shows growing religious influence on Israeli policies. But, as Yair Rosenberg at Tablet correctly points out, not all the religious parties have the same attitude about separation of religion and the state. Where Rosenberg, unsurprisingly, goes way off course is his complete eliding of the fact that the threat is not Israel’s tilt toward religion, but it’s increasingly radical shift toward right-wing policies, which are often severely discriminatory and militant. (more…)

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My latest at LobeLog reviewing John Kerry’s recent testimony before Congress and the ripples on the Israeli right in response to the collapse of the talks, at least for now.

Also, Dimi Reider has a piece up at 972 Magazine which goes well with mine.

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This piece originally appeared at LobeLog

There was a real diplomatic blowup in the Knesset last week, when Naftali Bennett led a walkout of the chamber by his HaBayit

Rooftop water cisterns in Jenin.

Rooftop water cisterns in Jenin.

HaYehudi party during a speech by European Union Parliamentary President Martin Schulz. The comment Schulz made that elicited his response was this: “A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17. I haven’t checked the data. I’m asking you if this is correct.”

Is this just another example of Israeli hyper-sensitivity and over-reaction? In fact, it is not. At first glance, this seems like a foreign leader framing a question, one that seems to be regarding an issue that makes Israel look no worse than frequent statements about settlements and foot-dragging on the peace process. It actually touches on an issue that is at the very heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but that is too often overlooked. That issue is water. (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog. For further illustration of this issue, see my article from November 15 at Souciant.  Kerry and Bibi

There’s a showdown coming, and the outcome may determine how the US runs its foreign policy in the Middle East, at least for the next three years and perhaps much longer.

The issues at hand are both immediate and long-term, and both involve an awful lot of “daylight” between the positions of the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government in Israel. The very top of the Israeli government, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and far-right “kingmaker,” Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Naftali Bennett, has launched a full-scale attack on the policies of Barack Obama. They have dispensed with the fiction that Israel is not a domestic US issue and have brought into the light of day the enormous influence they have in Congress. (more…)

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The Obama Administration has never had the best relationship with Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu has never hidden his disdain for Barack Obama, and worked for his defeat in 2012. But the level of invective between the US and Israel in recent days is quite unprecedented.

No doubt, a lot of this has to do with Netanyahu’s inability to chart a course for Israel that includes resolution of any of its conflicts–either diplomatically as the center-left would prefer or by massive exercise of force, as the right favors. Instead, he has chosen a path of perpetual conflict, which has not sat well in Washington and Brussels, where the past decade has whetted their appetites to turn attention elsewhere and, most of all, to extricate themselves from the spreading conflicts and increasingly hostile politics in the Middle East.

But a good deal also is due to an apparent determination on the parts of Obama and John Kerry to change the way the US pursues its agenda in the Mideast. Despite the hysteria of those, such as Abe Foxman, Malcolm Hoenlein, David Harris and Netanyahu himself, who prefer to see Israel in perpetual conflict, the US is not about to abandon Israel, nor its new BFF, Saudi Arabia. But Obama’s opponent in ’12, Mitt Romney, actually laid out the issue very well. When he describes how he would decide on US foreign policy in the Mideast, he said his first step would be to phone his friend, Netanyahu. That’s actually how it has worked for some time, and Obama is trying to change that, though the odds are against his success. I explore in Souciant.

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