Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Siege Democracy Confirmed

This week the Israeli Knesset confirmed my characterization/classification of Israel as a siege democracy by passing legislation allowing any Israeli company that is the target of a boycott call to sue in civil court without having to prove that it was actually damaged economically. This has so far backfired by forcing many Israeli liberals who disapprove of boycotts to defend the free speech rights of others to call for them. This has left the Right in Israel even more isolated as many Jews in the diaspora have opposed the legislation. Either this easily-foreseen consequence was simply overlooked, which means that the originators of the legislation are incompetent, or secretly desired, in which case they want to damage Israel's interests while appearing patriotic.

In any case Israel is swiftly moving into the territory of the South African regime during the late 1980s. The National Party regularly spoke of a "Total Onslaught" against South Africa that could only be fought by a "Total (totalitarian) Response." In the 1987 election campaign the opposition Progressive Federal Party was demonized as collaborating with the outlawed African National Congress. The tactic worked in the short term and delivered a big electoral victory for the National Party and made the nationalist Afrikaner Conservative Party the official opposition. This in turn increased South Africa's opposition internationally. In Israel's party system there is no real "official opposition" but rather parties that take turns as coalition partners with the Likud. Avigdor Liebermann is aiming to be the new head of the Israeli Right by replacing Netanyahu. Bibi is running scared. He reacts short term to the danger from the Right. He learned his lesson from his first premiership--don't provoke the Right.

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