Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Israel's New Government Sworn In Two Days Ahead Of U.S. President Barack Obama's Visit To The Region

Israeli Politics

Members of Israel's newest government, its 33rd since 1948, were sworn in yesterday, two days ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to the region on Wednesday, his first as president.

Israel's New Coalition Cabinet: After six weeks of negotiation between Benjamin Netanyahu
& other the other political parties, Israel has a new cabinet headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Credit: Haaretz
Source: Haaretz
The good news is that this coalition of four parties, comprising 23 individuals (four women), proves Israel is a democracy; the bad news is that Israel is hobbled by too many special interests. So, it's hard to say how much this cabinet will change things for the average Israeli. It might in a few areas, but not in what greatly ails Israeli society and many democracies today—the growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and in Israel's case, the growing gap between secular and religious groups.

Such sensitive, yet important, issues will likely never be officially and publicly addressed, since the parliamentarians have no personal need to do so. To understand Israeli politics is to understand how the interests of the individual; in this case, the needs of a few individuals over-ride those of its citizens. There a a few exceptions, but such individuals rarely obtain power or retain it for long.

Shelly Yacimovich of Labor, which fared well in the general elections, coming in third with 15 seats, said she would not join any coalition government, which she hasn't, chiefly because of widely differing economic views. She made such a point yesterday, Jonathan Bis and Barak Ravid say:
Yacimovich attacked the party leaders in the new government saying they do not understand the distress of the people. "The four of you, Netanyahu, Lapid, Bennett, and Livni are well-off, come from established families, and have never struggled for your livelihood–capitalists, let's call it as it is. Your approach gave Israel the largest gaps between rich and poor in the Western world."
This is the New Zionism?. Well, not really; it's something far older, far more entrenched among the privileged class. If there is cynicism among many middle-class Israelis, it's not hard to understand why. Can Israel expect more street protests this summer? I would expect so. Will it change anything? I would be surprised if it would.

The list of the cabinet, including an official photo, can be found here; you can read the rest of the article at [Haaretz].