The Myth of Israel’s Political “Blocs”

In analyzing the results of the recent Israeli election, it is common to speak of certain parties belonging to a “right-wing bloc” and others to a “left” or “center-left” bloc, with perhaps one or two parties not fitting into either category. Notably, neither bloc has the 61 Knesset seats necessary to form a coalition, although the Likud has an indisputable plurality of 30 seats. Michael Koplow argues that, in fact, there are no blocs at all:

Looking at the deadlocked results of the fourth election [since 2019], which come on the heels of the deadlocked results of the first two elections and the wholly predictable collapse of the unwieldy compromise following the third election, demonstrates that there are no sustainable Israeli political blocs. . . . There are no black boundary lines in Israeli politics in the current era, only a muddled haze where any combination is theoretically conceivable.

If you knew nothing about Israeli politics beyond where parties stand on actual issues and had none of the background context, you would think that the most logical government would be composed of Likud, Yesh Atid, Blue and White, New Hope, and Yisrael Beytenu. That is a 70-seat coalition that is hawkish on security but short of being fully annexationist, centrist on social issues, and secular but respectful of religious observance. [But the hostility of the leaders of the latter four parties to Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu] makes a coalition like this, and coalitions similar to ones that he himself constructed in the past, impossible today.

The theoretical anti-Netanyahu coalition is even more unwieldy. . . . While none of [the many possibilities] can be definitively ruled out, particularly not after some of the head-spinning reversals we have seen in recent years, they do make everything far more complicated than would otherwise be necessary.

Read more at Israel Policy Forum

More about: Israeli Election 2021, Israeli politics, Knesset

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus