Does Israel’s New Government Show That the “Tribes” Can Come Together?

Writing in the Israeli ḥaredi publication Tzarich Iyun, Tamar Katzrir argues that the Jewish state’s most recent election reflects a less divided country than most assume:

Some seven years ago, then-President Reuven Rivlin delivered his famous “speech of tribes,” in which he effectively announced the demise of the grand story of the state of Israel. We are no longer one country with one great story, he claimed, but four distinct tribes, each with its specific narrative. We should come to terms with this reality and find a new common denominator that can bind together the various groups. Rivlin gave this program the somewhat ironic name “Israeli Hope.”

I believe the results of Israel’s recent elections disprove Rivlin’s gloomy forecast and bury his vision of Israel as a “state of all its tribes.” They prove that the Israeli public values a unifying Jewish narrative over the rival tribal narrative. Contrary to predictions, the public’s identification with the enduring Jewish story is actually becoming increasingly consolidated. The Ḥaredim, religious Zionists, the Sephardim, and the secular right, [whose respective parties make up the new coalition], united under the narrative that has always united us: the epic story of the people of Israel. The recent elections reflect the victory of the unified national narrative over the divisive tribal version.

Thus coalesced the current “right-wing bloc” that defined, together with the opposing bloc, the contours of the last elections. Voters had to choose less between individual parties, though this was also part of the choice and more between blocs. The success of the ḥaredi parties needs to be seen in this context: voters were happy to give them their voice in the knowledge that support would go not only to the specific group but also to the wider collective.

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Read more at Tzarich Iyun

More about: Haredim, Israeli Election 2022, Israeli politics

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy