Beyond the Cusp

July 28, 2013

Of Likud and Republican; A Problem Shared

They say that misery loves company and should that be true then members of America’s Republican Party and Israel’s Likud Party have plenty of company. Both of these political parties have had a split from in their membership and both sides blame the other for any election misgivings and shortfalls. What makes things even closer between the two is in both cases the split pits political purists who hold tightly to high political standard that might be best described as the pure essence of their party in theory while the other faction claims to be practical realists who hold that high political morality is great in theory but practice demands that the party must be more open to a wider group and that compromise is paramount. In both parties the purists claim that they have been ignored and that they have not had a candidate who holds fast to their strict definitions of belief while the realists blame the purists for forcing the party too far from the center and costing them the so-called swing voters which are necessary in national elections.

In the United States the Republican Party has had a group from which has been defined as the Tea Party Republicans but might be best defined as Constitutionalists and Libertarians. These Constitutional purists hold strongly to individual freedoms as defined by the Founding Fathers in their letters, writings and the founding documents of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Their claim is that there are a multitude of voters who believe the same way as they do and that many of these voters are even more stridently defined and are willing to stay home on Election Day rather than vote for a candidate they feel is too compromised on their issues. The realists claim that the dogmatic purity is too restrictive and denies the party the support of middle of the political spectrum voters. The realists claim that the Republican Party needs to position their candidates just slightly more conservative than the Democrat’s candidate as this will position their candidate to pick up the centrist voters as well as the strident conservatives of all stripes as who else would such people vote for, the Democrat or some third party candidate? They claim to run a stridently conservative candidate would leave the party with high political morals but no vote totals and they doubt that third party candidates actually take that many votes away due to their reference to put forward a compromise candidate. The biggest disagreement between these two groups in the Republican camp is where their recent candidates for the Presidency stood on the issues, especially in the last two elections where they lost to the Democrat Party candidate, Barrack Obama. In both cases the purists claimed that both John McCain and Mitt Romney were members of the realist camp while the realists claimed that due to catering to the purists these two candidates appeared too far to the conservative and libertarian end of the political spectrum. Both sides claim that the candidates were chosen and ran as if they were the epitome of the other side’s idea of the perfect candidate. Obviously both sides cannot be correct.

In Israel, the Likud Party has had an even rougher time despite currently being the party in power. All one has to do to see the convulsions which have wrought through the Likud body politic is to review some of the up and coming and established Likud Party leaders over the last decade or so. It was from the Likud Party that Kadima was born when the realists’ extremes of the party felt they could no longer accomplish their desired policies and remain within the Likud Party. It was a Likud elected Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who divided the Likud Party by taking a fair number of the leadership and merging them with other opportunists from Labor and other parties to form a new party they named Kadima. Those who split and joined Likud claimed that their moderate views were not welcomed in Likud and that they really had little choice. Some of those who left Likud with Ariel Sharon, among others, were Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz, Meir Sheetrit, Gideon Ezra, Avraham Hirschson, Ruhama Avraham, Majalli Wahabi, Roni Bar-On and Omri Sharon. The main reasons for the divide was over whether Israel should carry out the disengagement plan and simply remove all Israeli presence from the Gaza Strip and turn the entire area over to the Palestinian Authority as a test case to give the Palestinians an opportunity to govern and prove their capabilities. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon carried out the disengagement and a short while later Hamas took control over the Gaza Strip in a violent coup which led directly to the rain of rockets and other terrorist attacks emanating from the areas Israel had vacated.

Despite the obvious failure of the disengagement as far as Israel is concerned and, oddly enough, as far as the Palestinian Authority was concerned, there is still a strong worldwide push to force another disengagement from Judea and Samaria turning the entire area over to the Palestinian Authority assuming that this time will work out better. What makes the push for finding a peace in which much if not almost all of the areas of Judea and Samaria, also known to the Arabs as the West Bank, is turned over to the Palestinian Authority is once again the issue that is splitting Likud onto two camps, one is the Zionist Camp which purports that Israel should simply annex the entirety of Judea and Samaria and set a method by which the Palestinians could apply and qualify as citizens in Israel while the other camp are the so-called realists who hold that the Palestinians cannot be granted citizenship in Israel for any number of reasons among which include the “demographic bomb which states that in thirty to fifty years the Palestinians will outnumber the Jews in Israel simply through natural reproductive growth, or the idea that Israel will find themselves in even a worse position where the rest of the world will impose a solution on Israel where they will lose everything and therefore a compromise must be found. Currently, the Likud led coalition is headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu who is working towards finding a path to making a treaty with the Palestinians where, according to rumors, Israel would retain the major Jewish settlement blocks which amounts to around fifteen percent of the lands of Judea and Samaria and the Palestinians would be allowed to form their state in the remaining eighty-five percent. This would entail the Israelis absorbing between sixty and eighty thousand Jewish Settlement refugees from the towns and farms that would be ceded to the Palestinians. As the lands of Judea and Samaria are a large portion of the traditional ancient Jewish-Israelite-Hebrews historic and biblical homeland, there are many who feel that relenting on these areas to be sinful and sacrilegious, tantamount to treason against the true faith of Judaism. One should be able to see that giving up lands whose name is Judea might be a serious compromise for a people and religion denoted by the name of Judaism.

So, what does the future likely hold for these two parties and their respective nations? First off, in the Likud the future is relatively clear in that the younger members of the party such as Danny Danon and Moshe Feiglin who are strident Zionists and favor Israel retaining all of Judea and Samaria and offering the Palestinians who wish to remain and become Israeli citizens a methodology and plan to do so and for those Palestinians who would prefer to leave and live in the Arab world be given fair compensation for all of their properties and an additional payment to facilitate making their transition easier. This shifting towards a stronger nationalistic outlook also matches one of the trends within the Israeli population along with trending towards the populations as a whole becoming more religious. There is a real, visceral, tangible revitalization of Judaism taking place within Israel that is growing healthily in accord with nationalism. The window that we hear being bandied about as a limited time remaining in which forming a Palestinian state being possible is very probably an accurate assessment but for reason different than those stated. The problem is not that the two sides are growing more strident in their positions and thus reaching a compromise will soon become impossible as it is that a growing number of Israelis are beginning to realize that the Palestinians will never live peaceably even should they be granted their own state but will continue to use terror and pleadings to the world, especially Europe, to return all of the lands to them and remove Israel from the map. It really should not be a huge surprise as this has been the message shouted loud and clear from Palestinian society and the Arab World at large since before Israel was founded and it has never changed. The Israelis hear it constantly on Palestinian radio and television broadcasts, read it in Palestinian newspapers, journals, magazines, and their children’s textbooks, and it is evident on their maps which show all of the land as Palestine with no mention of Israel whatsoever. Likud will eventually become an almost purely Zionist Party as will other Israeli political parties and that will not be a contended position in elections. Likud also supports capitalism, free trade with other nations, smaller government, privatization of government run services and companies, and less regulations and restriction on business in general. Their main competitors in the political realm are all socialists of different stripes.

The Republican Party’s future is not quite as easily determined as there is not the generational split anywhere near as obvious as it is for Israel’s Likud Party. The Tea Party segments of the Republican Party are a growing sector which is still flushing out its organizational structure and thus will gain some more voice and strength in the immediate future. The challenge for the Tea Party members will be maintaining their higher than average level of involvement which is often found when a movement is in its early stages and still growing. There have been signs in some elections where the Tea Party has surprised the establishment and pollsters by winning what were termed upsets such as Bridenstine against Sullivan in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Ted Cruz in Texas, among others. The problem with predicting the future of political parties in the United States over doing so in Israel is an obvious one, size matters and the United States has size over Israel in every manner you care to measure with the exception as both nations have a similar number of Jewish citizens, for now. When one speaks of the Republican Party, there is a huge difference as you look at different locations. An example which makes this point is that if one compares a Democrat elected to the United States House of Representatives from Texas or Wyoming to a Republican elected to the same august body from Maryland or Massachusetts, one would likely find that the Democrat would be considered the more conservative of the two. That is why it is impossible to form an exact definitive description for a member of any political party in the United States and especially for the two main parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Politics in the United States is a lot like real estate, what matters a lot is location, location, location. Still, the Republican Party will likely face a reformation of sorts over the next decade or two and a good prediction would safely contend that Republican candidates will become more aligned with the founding declarations of individualism, freedom, and less reliance on government. They will push for reforms that lessen the reach and purview of the federal government and push for empowerment of the individual states and even to local city and county governments. Any contributions from the Federal Government will be in the form of block grants and there will be less stringent restrictions on their use. Whether this resonates with the public remains to be seen but there is a high likelihood that should some of the over-bloated Federal Government programs, even some of the newest among them, become financially untenable that rather than allow for Federal taxes to rise close to if not over fifty percent, the people of both parties will demand somebody take a carving knife to the Federal budget and the programs it supports. This will be the result more of necessity than anything else but it is surprising how frugal people can become when their ability to survive is on the line. But, as we have said before, time will tell.

Beyond the Cusp

December 30, 2012

Will Israel Soon Face New Threats?

Ever since the world decided to grant the Palestinian Authority the lethal weapon of statehood in a United Nations General Assembly vote, we and many others have been waiting to see how it would first be used against Israel. The question was would it be used to go to the International Criminal Court charging numerous Israeli leaders both civilian and military with various crimes ranging from war crimes to crimes against humanity or would the Palestinian Authority first petition anew for full member statehood in the Security Council, this time with the full backing of the Arab League, the Nonaligned Movement and the European Union or would they simply play it safe and attempt to be included in as many ancillary United Nations organizations like they had received prematurely from UNESCO and use these organizations and agencies to slowly build an unstoppable series of decisions awarding them advantages political and on the ground against Israel. Reports on discussions between Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi this past weekend gave the world their first glance at the near future in the Arab war against Israel through their surrogates the Palestinians. Here are some of the options that were intimated during these meetings in Ramallah.

Nabil al-Arabi was quoted offering this request, “We hope that the new American administration adopts a policy of conflict resolution rather than conflict management.” He called on US President Barack Obama to be more active and to make a concerted effort towards ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There were also discussions concerning the promised financial safety net which was supposed to be forthcoming from the Arab League though no payments were made or yet scheduled. There was mentioned the intent for other Arab foreign ministers to visit Ramallah in the near future, again with no specifics. Al-Arabi reported that he and Abbas discussed that resultant from the United Nations vote recognizing Palestinian statehood there were “joint Arab political steps that should be taken after Palestine secured non-member state representation at the United Nations, in order to implement Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian land occupied since 1967.” Arabi additionally referenced that the Palestinians would “return to the Security Council with full support from Arab countries and in agreement with European Union nations,” though it was not made clear for what direct purpose such a move would entail. From all direct reports it was left very vague exactly what was decided during the four-hour meeting beyond requesting President Obama to be more active by which one can assume they intend that such activity be in a way of forcing concessions on the Israelis.

This meeting does offer an opportunity to discuss some of the other claims and threats which have come out of Ramallah since the Palestinians received their coveted recognition of statehood, though said recognition did not define borders, capital city, or any other necessity required of any normal state. There was the grandstanding just this past week when while being interviewed on Israeli media Abbas threatened, “If there is no progress even after the election I will take the phone and call Netanyahu. I’ll tell him…Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority. Once the new government in Israel is in place, Netanyahu will have to decide — yes or no.” Of course he spent much of the rest of his interview putting forth the Palestinian list of demands that are not demands but obligations that Abbas knows Israel must accomplish if they truly desire peace and wish to negotiate. Abbas once again upon returning to Ramallah reiterated with his customary refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, requiring Israel return to the pre-1967 War borders, surrender East Jerusalem along with the Temple Mount and all of the Old City, giving up on the resistance until all of Palestine is freed from the occupiers and all the Jews have been dealt with or relent on his demand that all Palestinian prisoners be released from Israeli custody. I can rest assured that given more time the rest of the Abbas laundry list of demands would follow which include better armament for Palestinian security forces, open borders for the import of weapons commensurate with statehood, entering treaties with other nations and holding military exercises within the borders of Palestine as the Palestinian government sees necessary. Some people just do not know when to stop and insist on proving they will never be satisfied which is usually when Abbas insists on his final term, the Right of Return to within Israel of five to seven million Muslim refugees and their families on to the nth generation.

Needless to say, there are a number of friends of Israel who would have absolutely no problem allowing for Mahmoud Abbas to disband the Palestinian Authority and simply hand the keys to Prime Minister Netanyahu and walk off into the sunrise, sunset would have him entering Israel, we would rather he go into Jordan or further. Unfortunately, this is just another cry out to anybody ignorant enough or predisposed to listening to Abbas and get attention in the hope that somewhere in the world somebody will panic and put pressure on Israel to prevent the catastrophe of Abbas actually following through on his threat, though I can hardly see the catastrophe in his leaving for good. I must give Abbas credit as he has improved markedly on his previous threats of resigning, threat made almost countless times with current count at a minimum of nine times or his threat to stop payment of the Palestinian Authority employees if the world does not shower him with money. Actually, this is simply a more advanced version of not meeting the payroll.

Wasn’t Mahmoud Abbas supposed to face an election back sometime in 2009, I remember something about he couldn’t hold elections in the middle of negotiations. Now he is threatening to take drastic measures if negotiations are not restarted immediately. Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu should insist that the Palestinian authority hold elections now that Abbas has recognized that negotiations are not being pursued at this time which should allow a perfect reprieve in which elections can be held. Prime Minister Netanyahu could even promise to start negotiations as soon as the newly elected leader of the Palestinians is comfortable in coming to the table with absolutely no preconditions and a relatively open mind. The United Nations should have demanded the much overdue elections to have been held before recognizing this usurper as the leader of a nonmember state, that would have made for a far superior result. Meanwhile, nothing has changed but we can simply wait and see which of those opposing Prime Minister Netanyahu is first to claim that now he has gone and done it, Netanyahu is on the verge of ending the Palestinian occupation of Judea and Samaria with the end of Mahmoud Abbas and his merry band of terrorists.

Events have progressed since the writing of the original article and need to be included due to the serious nature and scope. Today the Fatah Party, the progenitor of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, celebrated their 48th anniversary of the founding by Yasser Arafat with Mahmoud Abbas as his second in command. The celebration was marked by numerous marches throughout Judea and Samaria. There was an extra special touch added to the event in Hevron where the marchers included masked and armed Fatah members firing automatic rifles in the air as seen in this video. This was an area marked by an increase in confrontations the last few weeks, usually in the form of rock and Molotov cocktails being hurled at the city’s Jewish residents. Additionally, the Fatah Party released a new and special logo marking their 48th anniversary which includes a map with the PA flag and a map of Israel that appears to be a depiction of the black and white checkered kefiyah resembling the one always worn by Yasser Arafat, a symbol of the violent intifada, and the slogan the state and victory. These new symbols will very likely lead to the making public the claim that has been often spoken in Arabic while being denied in English that Palestine is all of Israel including Gaza, Judea, Samaria, and the lands inside the Green Line constituting the recognized lands of Israel.

Beyond the Cusp

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