Following a surprisingly muddy election season (Really? Did we really expect different despite the promises of a clean campaign focused on issues?) in the U.S., it seems our friends in Israel have learned a thing or two about mudslinging.
Likud Chair (and once and perhaps future prime minister?) Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United Jewish Communities General Assembly this week and promised to focus on building the Palestinian economy to form the basis for future negotiations.
Labor Chair (and former prime minister, anybody sensing a trend among the candidates?) Ehud Barak lashed out at this statement: “The Likud, even with its team of stars, would bring us to a dead end of diplomatic and security issues, a conflict with the world and the entire region, and the destruction of Israeli society.”
The destruction of Israeli society??? Such strong hyperbole is indeed reminiscent of some of the tactics used during the recent election. Remember the Republican e-mail in Pennsylvania that essentially said voting for Obama would be like voting for Nazis in 1930s Germany? Well, America didn’t end after the election and Obama and McCain actually had a meeting together earlier this week. It’s good to see that they — at least publicly — were able to put aside the divisiveness of the election. Israelis have it a little tougher since there’s more than just one opponent for the future prime minister to woo. President Shimon Peres was forced to call new elections when Kadima primary winner Tzipi Livni could not form a new governing coalition. She — rightfully — cited the conflicting (and perhaps unreasonable?) demands made by the various political parties. Each one demanded their own series of promises before they would sign their allegiance to a coalition government.
I am not begrudging the parties of their legitimate concerns. Benefits for survivors, aid for the poor, and fair wages for teachers and public servants are absolutely legitimate demands. But these parties must learn to work together to accomplish these things so that they become concerns of the masses and not just one party’s platform. Placing one’s own agenda above the welfare of the country will not accomplish that.
It seems that those in the Israeli government have picked up many of the negative middot of U.S. politicians. Hopefully after February’s election they will be able to form a unity government that puts the welfare of the country before their own pettiness. In a country that used to put the U.S. to shame with its high voter turnouts, the public needs a government that will reinstate a sense of trust that it has the entire country’s best interests at heart rather than furthering political careers or individual agendas.