Protests, Israel Elections Are Important Issues to Follow
This past month saw protests in the streets of Ferguson, MO, Staten Island, NY, around the country, and right here in Louisville … protesting what many see as injustice in the form of racial discrimination at the hands of Police. The protests are in response to the decisions by two grand juries not to indict the policemen responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The anger in the streets and during these protests is palpable, as the African-American Community and many others are seething with frustration.
Our hope is that these communities begin to heal, that the necessity of protests begins to abate, and that the police and the citizens they are sworn to protect will join together in common cause and trust. True justice will not come about when grand juries announce decisions on indictments, but when the citizenry has faith in the police, the courts, and the justice system, and feel their own sense of belonging within it.
There are many advantages to multi-party parliamentary governments, the main one being the parties are narrower in their policies, and the choices will be more specifically in line with your core beliefs. However, one big disadvantage is the fact that governments are formed by coalition, and when one member party of the coalition disagrees too much with the ruling party, the government will fall. Well, this is exactly what happened in the last couple of weeks. The government of Israel has fallen and new elections will be held on March 17.
There are many different parties in the Knesset, ranging from the very left to the far right and forming a coalition could be a complicated affair. There are 120 seats in the Knesset so a ruling party must cobble together 61 seats, and for the last several years it has been the Likud party and Prime Minister Netanyahu that have formed a government. But the Likud has never had more than 31 seats in recent years so it is beholden to other parties, often times with very different ideas than Likud. Likud’s main coalition partners included Yisrael Beiteinu, a historically immigrant party that has generally supported a nationalistic foreign policy while being anti-Religious. Another significant party is the Jewish Home party, also nationalistic, and generally associated with supporting the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. But Likud’s largest coalition party has been the Yesh Atid party, a centrist party, supportive of peace talks with the Palestinians, and led by Yair Lapid, a former television news anchor. With such a varied coalition with such different stances on everything from peace talks to the price of housing, and with such different personalities like Netanyahu, Lapid, and others, it really was only a matter of time until this government fell.
The current polls are erratic, some predicting Netanyahu and the Likud will lose and be replaced by the leader of the largest left wing party, the Labor party. Other polls are showing that the Likud will actually gain seats, drop Yesh Atid as a partner, and secure the religious parties as partners. It is so early and Israeli politics are notoriously unpredictable, nobody can predict with any accuracy what the next government will look like. However, as Israel is always dealing with vital issues such as the peace process, military conflict with its neighbors, the role of religion in society (all issues discussed by the main parties in recent advertisements), the next government will have a serious part to play in the future of the country and the region.