By: Tal Schneider, Noga Tarnopolsky
If it seems to you the Israeli election happened– and then nothing, you are not alone. There is no new government, there are no new ministers and the new Knesset barely managed a somewhat stale toast before dispersing for the long Passover break.
Its hard to drum up enthusiasm or a feeling of the novel when the same event takes place every two years.
That said, we can only assume that behind the fog of the Passover vacation, coalition negotiations are taking place. The only matter I’d (Tal) stake my reputation –for now– is that the Likud and Labor are not, not negotiating a surprise national unity government.
Two new parties were acting the role of new kid in class: Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu and the Joint List. The List embarked almost immediately on their task: the articulation of a sectorial, ambivalent faction. On the other hand, Kulanu may already be in trouble. They are shiny and new and reminded me of the Yesh Atid crew only two years ago—enthusiastic, ethical public servants eager to work, not just to shine their new brass plates. I have the feeling their Likud colleagues are going to eat them for breakfast, without even bothering with salt.
And then there was this: Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that his door is open to everyone, said he intends to reunify the nation torn asunder by the last electoral campaign, and then, not two hours later, hosted the singer Amir Benayoun to grace a Likud victory gathering with his music. Benayoun, you may not know, released a single last summer that was dedicated to a fictional “Ahmad,” in whose voice he crooned “today I’m gentle and smiling; Tomorrow I fly to heaven / send to hell a Jew or two.”
There are those on the right who do not actually believe Benayoun is a hatemonger. But if even many of us find this guy problematic, its quite a way to embark on a new path in which the nation;s wounds are healed.
Among those things that have not changed, it appears the PM is fanning fanning conflict, sectarianism and tensions.
But the Joint List is merely a small indication of the new, assertive voice of Israel’s Arab citizens, and Netanyahu is likely to hear from them in the near future. Ayman Sikseck, stunning young writer, is reclaiming the old identity of the “Israeli Arab” and eloquently confronting the prime minister with an accusation much worse that a personal whiff of racism. “He’s a cynic,” Sikseck says evenly, in an interview by Richard Schneider (no relation!) that is well worth watching.