Will Barak miss Netanyahu's Tea Party?
AFTER waging an onslaught on Gaza with over 100, many of them children, dead, and massive destruction, to end up with a ceasefire that was already on offer before the attack, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has announced he is quitting politics.
Noted for deviousness rather than diplomacy, the ex-military commander under whom prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu served may be preparing some wily comeback later, though he is gettting on, or he may have taken a look at Binyamin Netanyahu's list of Likud hopefuls, as they line up for elections.
The right-wing party, which has made a deal with Avigdor Lieberman's even more right-wing Yisrael Beitanu, held primaries on Sunday and Monday, and it has selected what even the fiercest critics of past and present governments say is the most extreme team yet to rule if, as expected, it wins.
Netanyahu remains top of the party list, but with Lieberman as number two and a third of the seats going to Yisrael Beitanu under the deal, only the frst 20 Likud members would be likely to enter the Knesset. Those pushed towards the back of the queue include Benny Begin, son of the former prime minister, Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor. Though their lineage goes back to the right-wing party's founders, and before that to the Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorists who were led by Menahem Begin, these three are regarded as "moderates" within Likud,
According to Israeli commentator Noam Sheizat:
"The most vocal backbenchers – those behind attacks on the left, Arabs and human rights NGOs – won the day. The Likud looks right now like the Tea Party’s dream team.
He gives examples:
#1 in the Likud primaries is Gidon Sa’ar, the current education minister and the person behind the school trips that take Israeli children to the settlement in occupied Hebron, and the effort to open a university in the settlement of Ariel. He also has a lot to do with the attempt to shut down the Department of Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva.
#5 Danny Danon: One of the most extreme right-wing Knesset members, who incited against asylum seekers in the rally that turned into a riot in Tel Aviv. Danon was the man who brought Glenn Beck to Israel.
#6 (Reuven Rivlin) and #12 (Tzipi Hotovely) support annexing the West Bank. To their credit, they also toy with the idea of giving full citizen rights to the Palestinian population. Hotovely once organized a Knesset hearing on “the problem” of Jewish-Arab interracial relationships.
#8 Ze’ev Elkin, the brains behind many recent anti-democratic legislative attempts – including the infamous “boycott law.”
#9 Yariv Levin: Not as high-profile as Danon, but even more active. Levin led the effort to pack the Supreme Court with conservative judges. He took part in the effort to limit the funding of human rights NGOs and in the legislation of the boycott law. Levin led the committee that drafted the law forcing a national referendum in the event of a retreat from any territory held by Israel.
#13 Miri Regev, former IDF spokesperson, who called Arab MKs “traitors” and referred to asylum seekers from Africa as a “cancer.”
#14 Moshe Feiglin, who wants the state to encourage Palestinians – he once referred to them as parasites – to leave the country. Feiglin’s claim to fame was the civil disobedience campaign he launched against the Oslo Accord. One of his latest op-eds was titled, “I am a proud homophobe.”
#18 Ofir “Joe McCarthy was right about everything” Akunis: The sponsor of the anti-NGO bill.
Here is the full list of the first 20 names (the final list will be a bit different due to affirmative action and other internal Likud procedures – and remember that we are still waiting for Lieberman’s men).
Sheizat rightly says that this aggressive right-wing government in waiting is a product of the 45-year long Occupation, by which "the only democracy in the Middle East" has ruled over the Palestinians.
It also looks like a party readying for war, not just against external enemies, but against any opposition within Israel.