Aug 03 2008

A Cautionary Tale of Post-Ideological Politics in Israel: Visions of a future Obama presidency?

Category: Hamas,Hizbullah,Israel,middle east,Obama,politicsharmonicminer @ 9:16 am

Pretty much anyone who can read, and bothers to, knows that the Olmert government in Israel is hopelessly corrupt. The old notion of a “fish rotting from the head” comes to mind. Olmert is the target of seven different corruption investigations, a likely candidate for prison unless he cuts a deal before leaving office, and the most feckless leader in recent memory at fighting Israel’s enemies and protecting its people.

Building a governing coalition based on the Kadima party, the self-confessedly post-ideological creation of Ariel Sharon, a party which claimed to be neither right nor left (shades of Obama’s claim to “unify” and be “beyond old categories”), a party which would simply do what was necessary without reference to previously stated ideological positions, Olmert has actually accomplished nothing but to stay in power and stretch out his tenure, while causing great harm to Israel’s security.

This is all made very clear by Caroline Glick as she describes the ebb and flow of the Israeli electorate in response to events on the ground, and the way a “post-ideological” leader is captive to swings in public mood, but lacks the strength to actually carry out a coherent policy:

With the nation in a left leaning mood in the run-up to the last election, Kadima announced its plan to give Judea and Samaria to terrorists from Fatah and Hamas. Distinguishing their party from the radical left, which shares their plan, Kadima’s leaders explained that they sought to place Israel’s major urban centers in Palestinian rocket range not in the interest of peace – as the leftist ideologues would have it – but in the interest of the hardnosed “demographic” aim of putting all the country’s Jews in one concentrated area.

Before the nation had an opportunity to fully understand what Kadima’s “convergence” plan entailed, Israel’s body politic shifted to the right in June 2006 after the Palestinians attacked an IDF post near Gaza and kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit. Two weeks later it shifted further to the right when Hizbullah carried out a nearly identical attack along the border with Lebanon and abducted reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Noticing the public’s rightward shift, Olmert and his colleagues followed immediately. When Olmert launched the Second Lebanon War, he sounded downright Churchillian as he promised the nation nothing less than the total defeat of Hizbullah and the return of our hostage servicemen.

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