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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Future of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Alliance Party leader David Ford opened a new political can of worms when he attacked the sectarian politics of the province at his party's general assembly this weekend. This is an old theme with the party, which was founded in order to end sectarian politics.  Although the bulk of Ford's criticism was directed at the ruling duopoly of the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein, it was the other two Big Four parties, the Ulster Unionists (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), that reacted most fiercely to the criticism. Why is this?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is Shaul Mofaz for Real?

Last week the Partners for a Progressive Israel (formerly Meretz USA) blog reposted a NY Times Profile of new Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, who decisively defeated Tzipi Livni the former leader in the leadership primary at the end of March. Mofaz appeared much more dovish than one would expect for a former West Bank settler and former Likud defense minister.

Mofaz appeared to be attempting to paper over the disagreements between himself and Livni before the election. Whether this is because he wants to lead a Center party that is sincerely in favor of a two-state solution or merely wants to increase the value of his stock before he enters into merger or coalition negotiations with Netanyahu is anyone's guess. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Synthetic Liberal Zionism

Last week I picked up a 1985 biography of Zionist leader Haim (traditionally spelled Chaim but pronounced Khaim) Weizmann covering his early period as a Zionist leader up to the outbreak of World War I. I read it with one eye on the past and one eye on the present and future--looking for what Weizmann could teach me about leadership and policy.

Weizmann was a young man when Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, first emerged on the scene as a charismatic savior for Eastern Jewry in 1895. Weizmann joined the new Zionist movement and soon emerged as the first internal Zionist opposition leader to Herzl while he was a leader of Russian Jewish students in Central Europe. He founded the Democratic Faction, which unfortunately soon collapsed because of a lack of common ideology and policy. Weizmann sided with the Russian Zionist opposition to Herzl in the Uganda controversy of 1903-04 when Herzl proposed that the Zionists accept a British offer to settle Jews in British East Africa (today's Kenya) as a "night shelter" to avoid any more being killed and injured in pogroms in Russia. Weizmann sympathized with Herzl's reasons for accepting the British offer, but realized that lacking his own base he would have to settle with the Russian Zionists who opposed the offer. By the time of Herzl's premature death from a heart attack in July 1904 Britain was in the process of withdrawing the offer due to opposition from white settlers already within the colony.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mike Nesbitt elected new Ulster Unionist leader by 80% margin

Saturday evening former Ulster Television anchor Mike Nesbitt was elected the new Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) leader over farmer John McCallister by a margin of 407 votes out of a total of 665: 536 to 129. That computes to roughly 80 percent to 20 percent, a larger margin than most had predicted. Nesbitt had neutralized his opponent's call for the party to go into opposition by calling for a committee to investigate the issue to be chaired by McCallister.  But the real thing that Nesbitt had going for himself was name recognition--probably the most crucial factor in politics. As a former news anchor/presenter he was well known to party members where McCallister was not, particularly east of the Bann River. Nesbitt's first challenge will be to stop the rot by deciding on a clear course of action for the party and an identity that the party has lacked since the rival Democratic Unionists stole the UUP's policies in 2006.