March 10, 2009

Bibi's Problems

Shmuel Rosner does a good job of outlining them:

Avigdor Lieberman: There is no coalition without him. And since Lieberman’s ambition doesn’t stop at the Foreign Ministry, he will be the one to decide when to end his partnership with Bibi. Another problem with Lieberman: he likes to annoy people, especially Israeli elites. This will not help Bibi in his quest to rule from the center.

Strong opposition: Tzipi Livni got more votes than Netanyahu, and will be ready to do it again to take his seat. This means that the Israeli public will be able to replace Netanyahu should it so desire. Ariel Sharon was a strong prime minister for many reasons - one of them was the perception that there was no one around even close to being a satisfying successor. Netanyahu will not enjoy such a luxury.

February 10, 2009

Israeli Elections Live Blog (Updated)

RealClearWorld will be providing live coverage tonight and all day tomorrow of Tuesday's Knesset elections in Israel.

Voting has already begun for Israeli military personnel dispatched on the front lines, and most polling stations will be opening Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. IST. The Jerusalem Post has a handy voter guide with basic polling information and election facts for all of you still undecided and uncertain Israeli voters.

Stay with us throughout today and tomorrow for all of the latest news on the day.

UPDATE (1:17 p.m. IST)


Election day has arrived in Israel. Most polls have now been open across the country for about six hours. There were reports of 'rioting' at one of the polling stations in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm. The incident sounds rather minor, but it had been expected. Due to Israel's proportional structure, governmental tasks and positions get divvied out in reflection to a party's standing in the governing coalition - this includes election monitoring.

Problems arose when Arieh Eldad - sent to replace right-wing leader Baruch Marzel, who had once recommended the targeted killing of a left-wing Israeli leader - entered the city on behalf of the Central Election Committee to monitor polls.

Shmuel Rosner is running a live blog on the election. I couldn't agree with him more, incidentally, on the hype surrounding Lieberman as "kingmaker." Rosner also has a good read up at Commentary's blog on strategic voting.

It was apparently cold and rainy this morning, which, as we know here in the states, can affect voter turnout.

Also, check out Lionel Laurent's piece from yesterday on the absence of economic discussion in this campaign.

- Kevin Sullivan

UPDATE (2:05 p.m. IST)

Does anyone else see a degree of irony in Hamas waiting on election results to determine whether or not a Gaza truce will be feasible?

Isn't Israel called the unreasonable actor when they pick and choose their preferred Palestinian leadership in such fashion?

- Kevin

UPDATE (2:20 p.m. IST)

So much for voter apathy?

- Kevin

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Israeli Elections: My Miserable Voting Experience

TEL AVIV, Israel - Voting day has always been exciting for me. It started when I was a kid in Iran. Our local Kebab Restaurant (Kababi Najafi) was run by a member of the local Islamic committee. On voting days, he turned it into a voting office. For us kids, it was a good chance to gather around and play football. On such occasions, there were far more of us so it was twice the fun. The reason for the added numbers was because the streets were closed, due to fear of car bombs.

So instead of playing football between passing cars on the street, which on many occasions caused death or maiming of children (I was run over three times and nearly died during my first experience), we played football without the fear of Tehran's drivers. To us they were far more scary and real than car bombs.

I lived in Iran until I was 14, which meant I was too young to vote. In 1987 we moved to England. During my 17 years there, I never voted. This was because I was either too young, or moving around too much between Universities. Also, on a personal level, I didn't feel connected to the political system. The UK is a wonderful country, but politically, I never felt that I belonged.

This all changed when I moved to Israel in 2004. Politically speaking, I felt very connected here. After having left Iran, this was the first place where I felt at home. This country is no paradise by any stretch of the imagination, however as an Iranian Jew, I was welcomed and treated as an equal. As a family we have never felt discriminated against, because of our background. Israel gave us opportunities to progress professionally and in terms of education. This made me feel both happy and guilty.

The guilt came from the fact that Israel's Ethiopian citizens have been left behind. In some cases, they still live in immigrant absorption centres, despite the fact that they have lived here for more than 10 years. Many Ethiopians have progressed, but many have also been left behind.

In the 2006 elections, Kadima, who had backed the Gaza withdrawal, was slated to win. I thought that the peace process had enough support, so I could afford the luxury of voting with my conscience. The party who I chose to vote for was called Atid Ekhad (one future).This despite the fact that Shaul Mofaz, a fellow Persian whose family are also from Esfahan, was running for Kadima.

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