For Israeli Voters, One Thing Is Paramount: Not Returning to the Bloody Post-Oslo Days

Sept. 10 2019

As Israel’s second election this year draws near, pundits in other countries once again struggle to understand why Benjamin Netanyahu has remained in power so long, with some pointing to a global “populist wave” (that began six years after Netanyahu took office) and others to laments over the supposed decline of Israeli democracy, while still others get caught up in the intricacies of Israeli politics. But, writes Matti Friedman, the real answer is straightforward:

[I]n the decade before Netanyahu came to power in 2009, the fear of death accompanied [Israelis] in public places. There was a chance your child could be blown up on the bus home from school. In the decade since, that has ceased to be the case. Next to that fact, all other issues pale. Whatever credit the prime minister really deserves for the change, for many voters it’s a good enough reason to keep him in power on September 17.

Given the centrality of those years, it’s striking how seldom they actually come up in conversation. Along Jaffa Road, the hardest-hit street, the traces have become nearly invisible. The Sbarro pizzeria where in 2001 a Palestinian suicide bomber killed fifteen people, including seven children and a pregnant woman, is now a bakery with a different name. It’s a few paces from where I’m writing these lines, and it’s full of customers, many of whom probably don’t know what happened there.

[This period of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks] isn’t officially considered a war, even though it killed more Israelis than the Six-Day War of 1967. And no one can say exactly when it began or ended. The attacks picked up in the mid-1990s, [not long after the signing of the Oslo Accords], as Israel pursued a peace deal and ceded land, but the worst came between 2000 and 2004. Though other forms of violence persist, the last Israeli fatality in a Palestinian suicide bombing was in 2008.

[W]hen Netanyahu declares in an election ad that “in the stormy Middle Eastern sea we’ve proved that we can keep Israel an island of stability and safety,” we [Israelis] all know what he means, even if we don’t vote for him. That’s his strongest card, and if he wins, that will be why. The scenario we’re afraid of is clear even if it doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t need one.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics, Oslo Accords, Palestinian terror

How Israel Helps Uphold the U.S.-Backed Liberal International Order

Oct. 16 2019

Seeking to reverse decades of diplomatic isolation, and in response to increasing hostility from Western Europe, Jerusalem in recent years has cultivated better relations with a variety of states, including some with unsavory rulers—ranging from the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. While such a policy has provoked sharp criticism in some quarters, Seth Cropsey and Harry Halem explain that a small country like Israel does not have the luxury of disdaining potential allies, and, moreover, continues to do much to support American interests and with them the “liberal international order,” such as it is. Take the fraught case of its relations with Russia:

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Read more at National Review

More about: Israel diplomacy, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations, Vladimir Putin