Ingenious Political Coup Or Insidious Political Scheme

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s move to expand his coalition to include Kadima with 28 Knesset members provides him with a majority of 94 out of 120 parliamentarians and represents nothing short of an ingenious political coup or an insidious political scheme, depending on what he does with his historic mandate. Reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians and bridging the social gap must be first and foremost on his national agenda. Should he succeed, Netanyahu will be hailed as the leader who delivered his people from the bondage of occupation to the home of true liberty, independence and peace. Should he squander this momentous opportunity, however, he will be remembered as the most devious prime minister in Israel’s history, one whose blind personal ambitions and distorted vision brought his people to the brink of utter disaster.   
In his speech following the agreement with Shaul Mofaz, the leader of Kadima, Netanyahu stipulated four central issues on which his newly expanded government will focus: “Shaul and I and the rest of the coalition, saying [sic] we're pulling together for four main issues: to pass a fair and equal replacement of the Tal Law; to pass a responsible budget; to change the system of governance; and, lastly, to try and promote a responsible peace process." It is important to note that although all four are important issues and have serious national implications, the two most pressing concerns are the peace process and the alarmingly expanding social gap between the rich and the poor.

May 14, 2012 Read more

Syria’s Unfolding Tragedy: What Can Be Done?

As the carnage in Syria continues, the powers that are capable of taking serious measures to stop it are busy finding excuses to explain their collective ineptitude. Meanwhile, the Syrian people are paying with their blood day in and day out while the international community is shamelessly hiding behind UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan that was doomed from day one. Since the Syrian government “accepted” the plan a month ago, at least 1,000 Syrians have been killed and thousands more have been displaced. The Arab League (AL), the United States, the European Union and Turkey, who in particular can collectively stop Assad’s killing machine, still pin down their hopes on a plan that Assad has, with impunity, already turned into yet another mockery of the international community.

May 8, 2012 Read more

Israel’s Continued Independence Rests On Palestinian Independence

As Israel recently observed sixty-four years of independence, it is critical that Israelis reflect on the path they have taken and ask if the current one is sustainable in the long-term. Much has been achieved since the nation’s founding and the Israelis should take immense pride in what they have accomplished in a relatively short period of time. In the midst of celebration, however, there is a dangerous obliviousness to the “dark side” of Israel, one that could jeopardize Israel’s very existence far more than threats from Iran or any other country. Indeed, none of Israel’s achievements will be sustainable if Israel ignores the gathering storm and continues on its current perilous course.

Whereas Israel has achieved a near economic miracle, touting itself as the “start-up nation,” hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens, including a quarter of Holocaust survivors, live below the poverty line. The social gap between rich and poor continues to grow, and according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Israel ranks alongside Chile, Mexico, and the United States in its levels of inequality. The increasing frustration of the poor and middle class was on full display last summer, when nearly 400,000 citizens took to the streets to demand equal opportunities, a reigning in of the cost of living, affordable housing, and most importantly, credible government efforts to respond to their demands. Strong support for the protests (as high as 90% in some polls) underscores the level of dissatisfaction that exists today in Israeli society. This is certainly not what the elder Zionists of the state, notably Herzl, had envisioned.

May 1, 2012 Read more

To Egypt’s Youth: The Revolution Is Still Yours To Reclaim

In the past few weeks, the Egyptian revolutionary youth’s worst nightmare has come to pass: they have been caught in a horrifying struggle between the old regime and the Islamists amidst chaos in every aspect of Egyptian life. Before the transitional period deadline of June 30 of this year, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) (once thought of having reached a power-sharing understanding) are squabbling as to who will have the upper hand after the transition. The secular forces, meanwhile, are divided over every single aspect of the political process, all amidst a crushing economic crisis that risks the bankruptcy of the country.

At stake is the survival of the revolution itself. Egypt’s youth should re-take the lead (as they courageously did in January 2011) and form a unified front to usurp from politicians the ownership of the country’s transitional process to democracy, and ensure the achievement of its central aims: “food, freedom, and social justice.

April 24, 2012 Read more

Welcome To Israel’s Seasonal Political Charade

With the victory of Shaul Mofaz in the leadership contest of the Kadima party, the fractious nature of Israeli politics once again haunts what remains of Israel’s peace camp. Mofaz is by no means a perfect candidate but he at least came up with a peace plan with the Palestinians and regardless of its merits, presents a basic political platform to achieve peace. At a time, however, when the Palestinian conflict places Israel in real danger of losing its national Jewish identity and its democratic nature, its centrist and left-of-center political parties should unite and form a partnership that could provide a serious alternative to the Likud-led ultra-nationalist coalition of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

April 18, 2012 Read more

Syria: The Battleground Between Sunnis And Shiites

In a late 2011 article, I argued that Syria’s upheaval thrusts Turkey and Iran into a collision course because they have opposing geostrategic interests in an outcome that neither party can afford to ignore. Four months later, it has become increasingly clear that the Syrian uprising transcends Iran’s and Turkey’s strategic interests, as it has become the battleground between the Sunni and Shiite communities throughout the Middle East. The Syrian uprising has drawn a clear sectarian line: the Sunni axis led by Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the Shiite axis led by Iran. The new political order that will eventually emerge in Syria will determine not only the ultimate success or failure of Iran’s aspiration to become the region’s hegemon but whether or not the Sunni Arab world will maintain its dominance. Hence, the conflict will be long, costly and bloody, reflecting the troubled history between the two sides that has extended over a millennium.

April 11, 2012 Read more

Transcending False Perceptions

In a recent article, I argued that Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt should accept the fact that they exist and will continue to exist in the same neighborhood indefinitely, both as an acknowledgement of their mutual realities and as a way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and improve Israeli-Egyptian relations. Nonetheless, deeper than an acceptance of reality and beyond the MB is the need for a rapprochement between Israel and the Islamic Arab world, which must be based not on necessity but on the desirability of coexistence between Muslims and Jews.

April 3, 2012 Read more

Syrian Kurds: Time To Assert Their Rights

Regardless of what may come out of Kofi Annan’s peace plan to end the internal conflict in Syria, and whatever may emerge from the Arab League meeting this week in Baghdad, the prospect of Assad’s fall offers the Kurdish minority in Syria a historic opportunity to gain equal political and civil rights. Given the totalitarian nature of Baathist rule under Assad, the regime’s fall in Syria will take the entire system of government down with it, much like Saddam’s Iraq in 2003. But unlike Iraq’s Kurds who have enjoyed virtual autonomy since 1991 when the United States enforced a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, Syria’s Kurds are less organized and more divided. Syrian Kurds need to close ranks, fully join the Syrian people in pursuit of freedom, and not allow this historic window of opportunity to slip away.

March 27, 2012 Read more

Ineptitude Coupled With Moral Bankruptcy

A little more than a week ago, a heart-wrenching photo by Rodrigo Abd appeared in the front pages of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The horror on the face of this young Syrian boy named Ahmed encapsulates the enormity of pain and the unspeakable agony this innocent child has endured during the funeral of his father who was killed the day before by a Syrian Army sniper. But this is only one face of a single boy. How many thousands of Syrian children have met similar fates-children whose faces we have not seen not only because of the Syrian authorities’ restrictions on media coverage but because of the ineptitude and moral bankruptcy of the international community to prevent such a tragedy from happening time and time again?

March 20, 2012 Read more
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