Israel’s recycled politicians
Avi Yesawich
Published: 21.04.11, 10:40
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1. Disingenuous Article
EGGM ,   Petah Tikva, Israel   (04.21.11)
On the one hand the author is comparing us to the surround Arab countries, but on the other he says that we should strive not to compare ourselves with them. So which is it? In any case, the Israeli "leadership problem" is not a problem at all, even though the point about recycled politicians is accurate. However, history has shown (both in Israel and in other places) that strong politicians who bring radical change lead to disastrous results. Just look at Rabin and Oslo and Sharon and the disengagement (both of them were by the way "recycled" politicians who made a comeback). Or Obama in the US. What many people here fail to understand is that we're doing fairly well and in order to improve, we don't need radical change, but rather incremental improvements. This is exactly what the current government is trying to do, and is reason enough to re-elect it in the future. True, the government is not perfect. It is correct that Barak is one of the worst defense ministers in history, and Lieberman might not be the best foreign minister; and Steinitz isn't the best finance minister. However, these are the "three major ministries" always given 100% out of political considerations, and the only way to improve them is to change the entire system of government. The other ministries however are doing well. Gideon Sa'ar is infinitely better than Yuli Tamir (education), Yisrael Katz is infinitely better than Shaul Mofaz in transportation, Moshe Kahlon is infinitely better than Ariel Atias in communications, and Landau, Ben Eliezer, Aharonovich, Misezhnikov, Erdan and others are doing their jobs very well compared to previous governments. The only other major fault is the interior ministry, where the minister was, again, chosen out of political considerations. So please spare us with the "leadersip crisis". We aren't missing and don't need a strong leader to bring radical changes. We need a system of government that allows the selection of appropriate ministers to the appropriate posts.
2. Agreed! ... and how to fix it!
R. Goldrich ,   Hashmonaim, Israel   (04.21.11)
The only way to be rid of these useless jokers is to have direct representation by region.
3. Life is too good
Daniel Campos ,   Costa Rica   (04.21.11)
I Israelis used to love to discuss their political views and complain about the ineptitude of their politicians. A robust economy has created a spoiled materialistic generation of people who dont care about politics and instead care about 4X4 vehicles,Jet ski,party,expensive weddings.
4. To #! Disingenuous Article
Author   (04.21.11)
I make it very clear that although our political situation is very different in Israel, many of the problems we experience here also exist in the Arab countries. That's why I point out that the comparison isn't completely sound in the article. Our economic, political social and cultural freedoms don't necessitate a revolution here, but that shouldn't make us complacent while our leaders are hit with corruption and criminal scandals and refuse to confront critical issues in an appropriate and decisive manner. I believe your comment that strong politicians lead to disastrous results is might be partially true in autocracies and dictatorships, but significantly unsupported in democracies with proper checks and balances. Furthermore, disregarding his healthcare initiative, Obama is far from the great change or reformer he campaigned to be. As for Rabin and Sharon, you are correct: there initiatives certainly failed in the end. But let us not forget they were backed by a majority of MK's in the Knesset and nearly half of the Israeli public, if not more, of the Israeli public at the time. I never claimed that strong leaders are always make the correct choices, and in fact point out that they take us, for better or worse, into the vast unknown. The state of education in our country is terrible, the transportation system in Israel is loathed by nearly the entire Israeli public, and our PR situation is completely dismal. How can you possible credit the current minister's with being "infinitely" better in their positions? Lastly, I fully agree with you that Israel's political system is also a major part of the problem, and needs to be re-structured.
5. Part time citizen
OCKER ,   AUSTRALIA   (04.21.11)
How Israel survives or even exists with failed ,deposed and recycled leaders together with a corrupt and dysfunctional political system? The so called democratic political system is divorced from any form of constituency representation which allows you to talk to the wall for the apathetic and complacent electorate that has been disenfranchised.
6. Peretz is an embarrasment
Robert ,   Ashqelon   (04.21.11)
Peretz a native of Sderot, was the defense minister during the heart of the time the city was being blown back to the last century by rockets from Gaza- and he did nothing to stop it. What could he possibly do this time around when the threat is much greater and he is much lesser of a leader. Its a joke that we even let him get to the level of running for the head of a major party.
SABU TAGE ,   NYC USA   (04.21.11)
8. 1. self -delusional, living on Metzada
Pinhas Bayit ,   Bet HaKerem   (04.21.11)
What really is our democracy? How well do we understand what it is? Do we appreciate that it is much more than just a petek in a kalfi? No. We lose all sense of responsibility once that minimal act is completed. "It's all up to them now," we tell ourselves. The 'it' is our state, and the "them" are the people accountable to us for our present and our future. Except that we don't make them accountable to us or anyone else and they don't care. "Incremental" changes actually means "don't bother me!" And really and truly "Ha Kol Loh Beseder," unless you really are comfortable fooling yourself, in which case Bibi is the best Prime Minister we ever had and has broken the mould with his dynamic long term thinking to secure our nation for generations to come; Yvet Liberman is forging new friendships across the globe; Ehud Barak knows how to defend us and rules the West Bank on behalf of the settlers with an iron fist; our economy is great and not zig-zagging as many commentators warn, and our all Ministers are brillant meritocrats, unsullied by that dirty word 'politics'. It's just that irritating Politician in the Interior Ministry that taints us a little. It's spring and the sun is shining. It rises too every day over Metzada, our very own Metzada, perfection in every other way, except in reality.
9. yesawich is correct about israeli leaders
alexi   (04.21.11)
I wouldn't attach much to so called arab democracy. But his reference to the failures of olmert, peretz and barak, he is spot on especially barak. Olmert is a special case. if israelis reelect him,t hen the country is finished, absolutely finished as he has been th emost cowardly frightlened leader israel has ever had.
10. strong leadership?
citizen   (04.21.11)
I believe only 1 man currently in Israel has the vision and kahoonas to lead us out of all the disasters created by our former clowns claiming to be our leaders. And he is Moshe Feiglin of Manhigut Yehudit, but coz he wares a kippah people are scared of him. But I challenge you to research and read up on his policies, you will see they are based on common sense and what serves us not our enemies. And by the way Im chiloni L'gamrei but I will only vote for M Feiglin and no one else, all the rest are drek, MF is a true jew and a true zionist with vision.
11. Israel already had its revolution: ousting Labor socialism
Dr. L. Brnd ,   San Diego, USA   (04.21.11)
The crackpot socialists who hijacked Israel's founding and were an albatross around the country's neck for a quarter century were ousted by Begin in the 1970's after Saint Yitzhak the First was forced from office for corruption. When they weaseled their way back to power after Bush 1 double-crossed Shamir with his phony promise of SCUD protection, the first thing the Left did was wreck the country with the Peres-Beilin OSLO fraud. Saint Yitzhak the First, to his credit, was firmly opposed to a Palestinian State. After the Peretz and Barak disasters, the Left is now hopefully out of power for good and are a minor party. THAT is what a revolution is all about!! That is why Israelis can hear Justin Bieber - socialist autocrat Golda and her idiot-boy "kitchen cabinet" (the one that nearly got Israel destroyed in its '73 debacle) would have banned him, along with the Beatles!!
12. PERETZ HAS NO SHAME, just selfish egomania
JEWISHNESS ,   Atlanta USA   (04.21.11)
How can he live with himself? Is he so shallow that he doesn't see what a DISASTER he has been for his wonderful brave country? Is he so lame brained that he forgot how he singlehandedly lost the LEB WAR? and killed so many IDFs for what? his stupidity? Does anybody in all of Israel have any respect for this dolt? NO!
13. #1: Very thoughtful and thought provoking talkback, but....
adam eliyahu   (04.21.11)
I certainly appreciate your itmeized comments on the individual sections of the government. Even though I am sure we are on opposite ends of the politicla spectrum, we are citizens of the same country and bad government is bad for the citiznens, regardless of party lines. You do concede that Israelis are dissatisfied with their government. I would like to suggest two reasons. One is that we do continue seeing the same faces, even after seeing pictures of those faces in police albums with numbers under them. Being a blatant crook does not seem to impede an Israeli poltiical career in any way. This deeply disturbs me. The second reasn is that I believe there is a different perspective. The israeli economy is booming. Or those in the top 15% say so. Secular zionism was always an elitist movement and it became even more so under the influence of American capitalism. The Israel economy is top heavy, second only to america in that respect. The main reason for the revolts in Egypt were economic. The only thing stopping this from happening in Israel i are the remnants of socialized medicine.
14. Recycled politicians
roxie ,   israel   (04.21.11)
We have no real choice here when it comes to electing Prime ministers anyway, it is either reelect the one that is in office currently, or elect the person who was in office before him that you already voted out once before, the political system needs to change here, in order to get any real governmental change
15. Why not recycled politicians?
jason white ,   afula, israel   (04.21.11)
We have recycled sewage and use it.
16. The ignorance of innocent!!
Hafez Elassad ,   Syria   (04.21.11)
Well Avi Yesawich, you ought to know that with your "illustre" bio, you've still have a lot to learn. I wonder whether you have came to such a "smart" conclusions by yourself or you plagiared them from your academic studies?! Lets put a side the Winston Churchill soothsaying imminent comparaison of Democracy to the rest of other alternative civic systems of governing; he, Winston, would fit your description as a recycled politician. As a Syrian of Moroccan background I sesent the fact you're making too much out of Amir Peretz "failure" of historic proportionas a result of Olmert's ambush to an "innocent" patriot Peretz was, and still is. Ben Gurion if we believe your "receycling" theory was a recycled if there was any, and yet you put him on a pedestal of your galley of great democrats....let me finish with a big laugh at your lack of prespective.
17. To R. Goldrich: 2-4 Parties Suffices
Noah Lev ,   HollywoodCAUSA   (04.21.11)
To R. Goldrich: you said it. Here in Calif with 40m people, we have reps from legislative districts. But there are pros and cons. More often, the two parties voted for are at unresolveable odds about everything. The Gov now, (Brown) has same problems as prior govs. We have 14m Hispanics who vote their perceived interests (democratic). The while flight to other states has affected our voting. But Calif has a 2 trillion dollar GDP, which solves lots of problems. We grow at 1m year in pop. Our leaders are also retreads however. Seems like a universal problem. BTW, who would want to be PM, and FM. in Israel? Would you? Israel is explosing and imploding...with 60 parties and religious stanglehood on life, not to forget eroding your economy (military). You need 2-4 parties, no Pres, but a VP. Your Defense Minister is a joke. Suggestion: hire Powell or William Cohen after they become citizens of Israel. Bibi is okay, but backs down under US pressure. He is no Shamir or Begin or Golda for that matter. Maybe those types are pre-historic?
18. My Response to #16
Author ,   Tel Aviv   (04.21.11)
The first part of your argument is a sort of ad hominem attack and offers no evidence to substantiate your claims, so there is no reason to give it any merit or response. As for your arguments of "recycled" Churchill made incredibly bold decisions to lead England out of an incredibly turbulent period of British history. He was an extremely accomplished individual with a sense of intelligence and honesty that was beyond admirable. The same cannot be said about Israel's current leadership. The same can be said about Ben Gurion, who made incredibly bold decisions to establish and facilitate the building of the Israeli nation. The fact that they served more than one term is not the type of "recycling" I'm referring to here. We are recycling politicians who have disproven themselves over and over. Clearly Ben-Gurion and Churchill are not applicable here. D what you may be inferencing, I am not criticizing Amir Peretz based on his ethnic background (as you imply by conveying your own Moroccan background), but by his absolute failures as a defense minister. You clearly do not understand how neglectful and sub-standard his performance is if you are willing to defend him on his political performance. I suggest you research the topic yourself if you don't agree. Feel free to laugh, but I don't find the situation to be nearly as humorous as you do.
19. Israel needs leaders able to implement patriotic mandate.
Chaim ,   Israel   (04.21.11)
By electing a right wing Likud lead coalition, and decimating the "Palestine" loving Labor and Meretz Parties, Israelis demonstrated their total rejection of the Two State Final Solution. Yet Netanyahu continues to pretend we want it. He lacks the courage to implement the patriotic mandate he received. Israel needs leaders able to do so. Israel is full of wise, courageous men and women. We need to get them in government. A few suggestions include: Daniella Weiss, Moshe Feiglin, Ruth Matar, Danny Danon.
20. to #17 Are you nuts?
jason white ,   afula, israel   (04.21.11)
Powell talked bush #41 into ending the Gulf War too soon. Even Schwartzkopf cursed him out. We do not need a Wm.Cohen. What the hell did he do? We have officers here with a lot of experience and are good at their jobs. My battery commander was worth 10 Powells. We need someone as D.M. who was not a general or a member of a commando unit. As for bibi,he or livni are not worthy of being our P.M. Neither is peres the unelected president of Israel worthy of that job.
21. Recycled Politicians
Edward ,   Savannah, USA   (04.21.11)
Is there any way we could swap recycled politicians around here!!!??? We have the SAME crappy line up every election cycle with losers like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Sara Palin, the Clintons, et. al. and that biggest loser of ALL time running again, that illegal alien Muslim poser from Kenya in the White House!!! Amir Peretz would be breath of fresh air around here!!! Even Barak would look like a genius compared to what we have running our country now!!! You give us Bibi and we'll give you the "poser" in the White House. Oh wait, you've already got him!!! Wait til you get that new "peace plan" from the "poser" when Netanyahu speaks before Congress!!!
22. Where Are the Israeli Leaders Wtih Gonads?
Noah Lev ,   HollywoodUSA   (04.21.11)
Powell also had actual military experience in Vietnam and has a philosophy to use overwhelming force in battle, something Israel would be smart to follow. Sure, Powell was not perfect. However, his reservations about Iraq proved correct. William Cohen was a brilliant administrator and respected. What can one say of Barak, a good soldier, with little else of value. Look, Israel is caught between a rock/hard place, or the Med. and the Jordan R. It has just so much clout. If it follows the advice of your RIGHT, it loses USA support. If it is too far left, (JSt), it loses the country. Somewhere in between is the answer. It needs secure borders from an invasion (cannot defend against missiles). yet must spin off its W. Bk and Arab neighborhoods. It is losing this conflict. Time is not on its side, as we are all seeing. It cannot even defend against an unarmed flotilla, more or less against major nations. But I agree, your current leadership seems stymied and tired. Bibi is a disappointment..and will kiss the US ass. Forget Peres and Livni. Send them packing to Coral Gables to retire.
23. To Chaim: Israel Needs to Assert Itself
Noah Lev ,   HollywoodCAUSA   (04.21.11)
To Chaim: I thought the majority of Israelis approve a 2 state solution, albeit grudgingly.?The world demands 2 states, Israel to the 67 lines and the W.Bk sans settlements. Somewhere in between is a preferred ans..which is the crux of this immediate crisis. Israel does not need Arabs, whether Israeli or Palestinian. Avi was right on the mark...slice off Arab areas, in exchange for settlements. I would not permit any sovereignty over a road between the W. Bk and Gaza. Okay, so give some Arab areas in E. Jerusalem to Abbas, and cut off all benefits, accrued. With Iranian and Syrian (Hez) missiles..land is less important now..as warned by Bibi years ago. A smaller, righter, leaner, meaner, Israel would be my choice which hits back hard. Capital punishment for igregious crimes. Look, Abbas will NEVER give up the right of return, to Obama (as rumored). So , what is this all about? The Arabs want the entire area Judenrein..that is their real goal. Its not about settlements or E. Jerusalem..and must be approached accordingly. Israel has strength, but is still a ghetto, afraid of the gentiles. Recall 1m Jews fought during WW2, but no organized war to save the Jews. Have we learned anything I ask?
24. Comments to the author
Sagi   (04.21.11)
Israel has four major problems for which there seems to be no solution in sight. The two internal demographic problems, the growing Arab population and the growing Haredi population. I say this without bias or prejudiuce because these are two factors which are unstoppable and will inevitably change the nature of our society and indeed the very concept of Zionism as it was initially conceived by our founding fathers some 130 years ago. The third problem is the lack of quality education in primary and high schools, this is also intertwined with the Haredi population who simply refuse to accept the necessity for modern education. The fourth problem lies in our stagnant and ridiculous electoral system which in turn leads to second class politicians who are nothing more than opportunists looking for a free ride. As long as we preserve this system and do not uncompromisingly reject it and demand change our situation will worsen. The reason for this is that the talented and capable people who are prepared to be dedicated to the State and its needs are discouraged and indeed they have contempt for the system and the kind of politicians that it encourages. There have been many instances of decent people who tried to join the political ranks and were churned up and spat out sooner than they expected. We only have ourselves to blame for this situation but please understand that the last one of the four is the root of all evil. Fix this and all will fall into place eventually.
25. Re: #4 Author
EGGM ,   Petah Tikva, Israel   (04.21.11)
Thank you for your thoughtful response. I apologize if my comment in any way hurt your feelings and take back the "disingenuous" comment. Having said that, I still believe that you are incorrect about both the current government and the "leadership crisis" in general. I will address each point: About strong politicians and their results: The whole point of a "strong leader" in a democracy is that such a leader knows how to direct all the checks and balances to work in their favor. The disengagement is a great example, where it was initially largely opposed, but Sharon managed to convince people to support it. Sharon's campaign was enormous; many people today might not remember how much effort was put into pro-disengagement hasbarah. It was in schools, ads, television, etc. The end result of the disengagement is evident today. Oslo is a very similar story—Rabin led a massive campaign to convince everyone. He was not supported just like that. In regards to Obama, every reform he has tried to pass has involved major spending, which is today America's greatest crisis. He clearly didn't reform as much as he promise, but he made a lot of attempts for sure (especially on the foreign policy front). In short, you are right that strong leaders lead us into the vast unknown—but I believe that it's almost always for the worse. I hope we never have another PM who goes for a foolish political initiative doomed to fail at the expense of our education, infrastructure, housing, etc. but as they say, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. In regards to education and transportation, I don't really know how the current ministers compare to their 1950s and 60s counterparts, but can definitely say for the last 2–3 governments. In fact, Yuli Tamir was a disastrous education minister who went on problematic initiatives like teaching the Palestinian exodus in schools, at the expense of proper management. Her tenure was highlighted by multiple crises, and none of her initiatives brought in positive results. On the other hand, Sa'ar has already made some small reforms and statistics seem to point out that he's doing rather well, although one needs to take in more factors. In any case, the problem that the education system faces today were exactly the same as in the 1990s. Each education minister made the situation slightly worse so I can't see how you can blame Sa'ar for stopping this trend. As for transportation, I can rant about Mofaz for days, but let's just say that he froze or delayed a number of national transportation projects, including the railways to Jerusalem, Karmiel, Afula, Netivot, etc.; the Rav Kav project; the light rail in Gush Dan; and many more critical projects. He did this because of the strong private car lobby (mainly importers and fuel companies). Anyone, including someone who knows nothing about transportation, could do better as minister, as long as they don't cave in to the pressure I mentioned above. On the other hand, Katz (with Netanyahu's help) are advancing all of these projects and more. As someone who uses public transportation a lot and follows the happenings in the field closely, I have full confidence in their abilities to lead our transportation (both public and private) into the 21st century.
26. #23 Noah. Israel rejects Two State Final Solution.
Chaim ,   Israel   (04.22.11)
#23 Noah. Leftists have long produced biased polls purporting to show most Israelis want a new terror state in Judea and Samaria. However, the only polls that really counts are elections. The parties of the Two State Final Solution, Labor and Meretz, are being voted out of existence. Clearly Israel rejects the evil Two State Final Solution. Recent well publicized polls show Israeli youth are even more nationalistic than their parents - and very strongly reject the Two State Final Solution.
27. #18: I agree 100% with your response
Israeli 2   (04.22.11)
28. NEW Jewish political system
NuritG ,   Los Angeles Californ   (04.22.11)
It is true and most unfortunate that Israel recycles its politicians,at large are most unsuited to lead a country that is in so much trouble. These recycled politicians have a dangerous failure track record and they are doing what Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over andover again and expecting different results”. So there is definitely a trend of inanity in Israeli political echelon that Israel cannot afford. What e suggest is a NEW Jewish political system of new election system with new courts system to cure this insanity. Otherwise, Israel will not prevail
29. My Response to #25
Author   (04.22.11)
By no means did you offend or insult me, I actively engage all readers of my articles as much as possible, and encourage debate on any topic I write about. Strong leaders indeed operate in the format that you delineate in your response. However, you provided only two negative examples in which strong leaders made bold decisions that produced negative effects for the Israeli state. I could also point out decisions such as Ben Gurion’s bombing of the Altalena and the 1956 Suez Canal war (among many others), Rabin in regards to Entebbe and the peace treaty with Jordan and Sharon with evacuating Sinai settlements (which led to peace with Egypt) and his decision to build the security barrier, just to name a few. The road goes both ways, but the point is at least these leaders have some sort of a vision and direction. Our current political leadership does not. As for the Obama example, what types of foreign policy changes did he really, truly attempt to make? Besides superficial attempts to directly engage the Arab world via speeches, he has largely maintained Bush administration foreign policies, except for changes to administrative detention and extraordinary rendition. His reasons for entering into the Libyan conflict were exceptionally murky, and reminiscent of Bush’s vague, unsupported reasons for entering into the Iraq war. In regards to education, I agree: Yuli Tamir was indeed a disaster in her role as education minister. However, I’m not sure which statistics you are citing, but as recent as December 2010, Israel ranked among the lowest in the OECD’s (of which it is a member) survey science and math scores. Their survey also shows a massive gap between the wealthier echelons of Israeli society and the average Israeli students. Of course, I do not blame the current minister for the decrepit state of Israeli schools, but instead the consistent lack of funding, poor quality of teachers, and course curriculums. The system obviously needs a major overhaul. As for transportation, it is, in my opinion, a fairly efficient system. But transportation is not one of the crucial issues affecting the political and security dilemmas that I cited in my article. We can definitely agree on one point: in many instances, MKs are given ministerial portfolios that they are unsuited to manage, and many have minimal experience background that deem them capable for the position. This highlights the colossal failure of the Israeli political system.
30. Bullseye Avi ,...
split ,   US   (04.22.11)
As a nation I see the Israelis (with few exemptions) as the most obedient brainwashed bunch of sheeps among nations that consider themselves as civilised and enlightened one - Religious or not this "sheep herd" mentality wouldn't dare to question their government that has it's roots in Judaism where an appointed by God (sic) rabbi is an authority beyond criticism. The Zionists have hijacked this concept to rule the herd surrounded by wolves and look what do you got to show to the rest of us that have the audacity to question your conduct in the Middle East. Take a good look at your so called a government ruled by military brass the way we do and you'll see the same faces of spiritual and military "leaders" dragging you slowly down into abyss ,... P.S. You'll be on the Masada 2000 list next week, wanna bet ;) ,...
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