Israel’s New Electoral Law Hinders Arab Moderates, Helps Jewish Extremists

Israel’s upcoming election will be the first conducted under the requirement that a party must win a minimum of four seats—the previous minimum was 2.4—to gain representation in the Knesset. Among its deleterious consequences, writes Evelyn Gordon, the change will prevent the formation of a moderate Arab party—despite the fact that opinion polls show Israeli Arabs to be overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the current parties, which are mouthpieces for the pro-Palestinian cause and have categorically refused to join any governing coalition:

Israel has an obvious interest in facilitating the growth of new Arab parties that would reflect [most Arab Israelis’] priorities. Arabs’ attitudes toward the state would presumably improve if their representatives could join the cabinet and produce concrete benefits for their community instead of being condemned by their own anti-Israel rhetoric to shout empty slogans eternally from the opposition benches. And Jewish attitudes toward the Arab minority would presumably improve if Arab MKs stopped attacking Israel night and day and instead started working for their constituents’ welfare.

Encouragingly, such parties even exist already, spurred by similar poll findings in 2012. In 2013, none of them got in, but this year, their prospects should have been better. . . . Instead, the higher electoral threshold has made it impossible.

Likewise, the new law has allowed the extreme-right politician Baruch Marzel to improve his chances by allying with Eli Yishai, former head of the Mizraḥi Shas party.

Israel doesn’t benefit from having anti-Arab extremists like [Baruch] Marzel in the Knesset. In contrast, [Eli] Yishai’s party actually serves two important functions. First, it has attracted [Mizraḥi] voters who aren’t ready to abandon identity politics but would rather not support a convicted criminal like Shas leader Aryeh Deri. [Second,] polls currently show Shas losing about four seats, with many of those votes going to Yishai. If Shas pays a real electoral price for reinstating the corrupt Deri, other parties may think twice about tolerating corruption within their own ranks. . . .

[In sum,] the higher threshold has actually empowered Jewish extremists while disempowering Arab moderates—the worst of all possible outcomes.

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Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Eli Yishai, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Mizrahi Jewry, Shas

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin