Wednesday, March 25th, 2015...3:09 pm

Editorial: Israel — limited hope, little change

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In the aftermath of last week’s Knesset elections in Israel, renowned poet and singer Yonatan Geffen posted on Facebook that Netanyahu’s March 17 election victory was the “Nakba” of the Israeli peace movement,” according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

Nakba, the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” is used by Arabs to describe Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, which led to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

On Saturday night, Geffen was assaulted at his Moshav Beit Yitzhak home in central Israel, according to the Web site of i24 News, the Israeli TV channel.

“The unknown assailant started punching Geffen, a noted left-wing activist, and threw eggs at him and called him a traitor after he answered his door, he told police,” according to the news report.

“I very much hope that this was a one-off event and signifies nothing for the future. We do not know yet why Yonatan was attacked. We hope the police catch the attacker,” Geffen’s manager, Boaz Ben-Zion, told Ynet, the Web site of Yediot Achronot.

Geffen reportedly was not badly hurt, but the attack left him deeply traumatized.

And Israel’s famous singer Noa reported that she was verbally attacked at Ben-Gurion Airport, after arriving from Italy.

“Here’s Achinoam Nini [Noa’s full name]… enemy of Israel,” she quoted them as shouting. “We’ll deal with you like Geffen!”

“I hope more artists and intellectuals speak out clearly,” Noa wrote on her Facebook page, according to Ynet. “It’s a shame they haven’t done so until now, but it’s never too late. I’m very sorry about what happened to [Yonatan] Geffen, who is an amazing person, and send him my love. But I was very happy to read the harsh words he said after the elections.”

As Shlomo Ben-Ami writes in an article for Project Syndicate, which appears in the AJW this week, the Israeli premier won the March 17 elections through an appeal of Israelis’ fears. Netanyahu succeeded in siphoning votes from parties positioned to his right, in an extraordinary campaign, which included an address before the U.S. Congress, at the invitation of Republican House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio.

On the eve of the election, Netanyahu pledged that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch (he said essentially the same thing in a July 11, 2014, press conference, during the most recent Gaza War). And on March 17, election day, the premier warned Likud partisans that Israeli Arab citizens were going to the polls “in droves.”

On Tuesday, President Obama said, “Netanyahu, in the election run-up, stated that a Palestinian state would not occur while he was prime minister. And I took him at his word that that’s what he meant,” according to an Associated Press report.

“Afterwards, he [Netanyahu] pointed out that he didn’t say ‘never,’ but that there would be a series of conditions in which a Palestinian state could potentially be created. But, of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet any time soon.”

AP reported that Obama said he is evaluating U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he said that in light of Netanyahu’s comments, the “possibility seems very dim” for the Israelis and the Palestinians to agree to live side-by-side in peace and security.

So, Netanyahu and his potential coalition partners wheel and deal, as a government is hammered together; at the same time, Israeli leftists and Arab citizens of Israel assess the climate of harassment that is growing within the Jewish state.

In America, Jewish leaders and pundits offer anodyne statements about Netanyahu’s electoral victory, which likely will degrade Israel’s already battered standing in the international community.

As hopes for an end to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories recede, we again have a lot to talk about at our seders.

The editors and staff of the American Jewish World wish all of our readers a happy and meaningful Passover.

— Mordecai Specktor / editor [at] ajwnews [dot] com

(American Jewish World, 3.27.15)

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