By Shimon Z. Klein

After a period if relative instability because of Prime Minister Olmert’s legal problems, the dye is cast and the country is moving towards general elections. The prime minister-designate, Tzippi Livne, was unable to form a new coalition because of the religious Shas Party’s extortionist tactics and the price they demanded to be included in the coalition. When Shas saw that their tactics did not work, Eli Yishai, the Shas leader, decided to let the racist genie out of the bottle and accuse his negotiating partners of blatant racism against the Sephardim. As illogical as this is, it somehow does bring more of his supporters and potential voters to the fold. The whims of Shas – the narrow and bigoted partisan party – created the fall of the Israeli government.

 Now the country will be thrown into an electoral campaign that will not clear up anything. The results will be just as pathetic as in the past elections. No party will gain an absolute majority. One need not be a prophet to predict that.  No matter how one votes one is going to get a shocking coalition – a coalition that will be no credit to anybody and certainly will not advance the peace process with the Palestinians. We are due to have a coalition that is impotent and will move nowhere. If we look at the choices at the Israel electorate’s disposal, the choices are poor. They are Hobson’s choices.  

Kadima is a hotch-potch of ideas – from the moderate right to the moderate left and can take on any political party under its wing. It is a party with no principles. It is an amorphous mass of ideas which will tag onto the Likud, Labour, Shas even the extreme right wing if it serves their interests in getting into power. They are not deserving of the support of the serious voter. 

The Likud is more right wing than centre right in its ideology. It does not have what it takes to make peace with the Palestinians. It is hooked on peace with all the settlements intact. It will not offer any compromises with the Palestinians territorially and will ensure that there will never be any peace with the Palestinians for a long time.

 Labour has lost its identity. It will be further weakened to being an amorphous mass of has-beens with a miniscule number of Knesset seats. Its ideology has been compromised and it has no direction. It is not social democratic but a shadow of the capitalist-oriented ideology of the Likud and Kadima. It is a bankrupt party. Ehud Barak, the leader, has had a turn at being prime minister and failed. The same can be said of the Likud. Benjamin Netanyahu has also failed as prime minister. Both men have a cheek in having another go at being prime minister. Neither are deserving of support.

Meretz has lost its backbone and has become an irrelevant left of centre party while its core members are leaving in droves. Within the last few days, Yossi Beilin has resigned and following in his footsteps is Ran Cohen, a veteran Meretz Knesset member has announced that he will not be standing for re-election to the Knesset. This party has ceased to be relevant and voting for it is a non-starter. Its ability to fight injustices in the system and to influence the peace process will be further weakened as a result, not that it had much influence anyway. 

This leaves the right wing parties and the religious Shas and Torah Judaism Parties. These two parties are not democratic and wish to install a system bound by Torah law. They feather their own nests by tagging onto future coalitions to provide funds for the eternal yeshiva students under their wing that live in poverty and are dependent on state aid and charity. These parties survive on the eternal cycle of poverty of their own creation. They do not wish to give their yeshiva students a broad based education to make them ready to compete for jobs on the open market. The strength of these parties lies in the perpetual poverty and poor education that these students receive. If their supporters and their children benefitted from a broad education these two parties would have no chance of existence. Their strength lies in the poverty of their supporters which they maintain in many ways by stealth, cameos, pseudo-charity institutions, and if I may use the term – spiritual lies! They potentiate poverty for their own benefit. The true leaders of these two parties are bigoted rabbis who make the decisions and their puppets (their Knesset members) carry them out without question. What is left behind in this pathetic mass of amorphous political parties?

The Arab Parties, which are considered taboo and a potential fifth column, are not even considered as potential coalition partners under any circumstances by the mainstream parties.  

The Zionist Parties are way off track because Zionism has become irrelevant. The idea of Progressive Zionism is a contradiction in terms. A Zionist is a nationalist and a nationalist is not progressive in any country. The proof is in the pudding. The right wing settler movements claim to be Zionist. The left wing Zionists are in total disarray and this is reflected in the political parties that represent them.  

The analytical and thinking voter is left with one of two possibilities. To abstain by placing a white paper in the ballot box or voting for a party that has a clear cut programme such as Hadash, the Arab – Jewish Communist Party. It is a party with no partisan ideology and it is a party of all Israelis – Jewish as well as Arab. This is a party with a reasonable ideology, and although this may be a shocking choice for many people, it certainly deserves serious consideration.

The alternative is even more shocking – no movement in any direction in a crippled coalition the day after the elections. This will not create the conditions for a two-state solution. If there is no two-state solution there is only a binational state solution. There is nothing in between.     

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