Monday, November 28, 2005

Breaking news: Peres to leave labor, join Sharon's Kadima Party

According to the Jerusalem Post (link to story above), Shimon Peres, longtime leader of the Israeli Labor Party and highly respected political figure, has decided to leave Labor and join Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party.

Rumors about this had been circulating since Sharon decided to break with Likud, but nobody knew until today that Peres would actually bolt Labor.

Notwithstanding the peculiarities of the deal that led to Peres' decision to leave Labor, his departure marks another huge shift in Israeli politics and a further marginalization of both of the two parties that, until a few weeks ago, had dominated Israeli politics for decades.

With Peres' departure from Labor, Sharon's party, now known as Kadima, which is Hebrew for "Forward," is virtually assured a solid, convincing, I daresay overwhelming victory in the March elections. Likud and Labor will both be extremely marginalized as both will be led by ideologues, Netanyahu on the right and Peretz on the left. Labor is especially vulnerable to almost total political collapse if Peretz refuses to join a Kadima government, as Meretz/Yachad, to the left of Labor, has already stated its intention to join Sharon's coalition should the elections go Kadima's way.

This is a huge moment in Israeli politics and could signal a major shift in the political dynamics of the conflict with the Palestinians and the relationship of Israel to the Arab world as a whole. I never thought I'd see the day when a militant hawk like Sharon and a respected dove like Peres would find themselves moving to the center and joining forces. I wish this new party the best of luck in finding the true center of Israeli politics, and with it, a pragmatic and reasonable solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The blog that cried "I procrastinate!"

Yeah, so a couple of weeks ago I posted that this blog was going to be back up and running and I would be spewing forth great gobs of gratuitous goofy g...ok I'm out of "g" words. Then I disappeared again. Well, a lot has happened since then and I'm itching to get some thoughts down on this cyber-paper before the stories get cold and start to congeal on my computer screen thus making it difficult for me to...ok enough strangled metaphors.

The point is, a lot of shit has happened lately. A lot of big shit. And there's a lot to talk about. So let's get to it.

First issue: the budget. The Republigrinch who stole Christmas. The Repugnant Party has decided that their priorities should be to take school lunches, Medicaid and food stamps away from poor people and give rich people even more of a tax break. No surprise there.

The new thing--and this is big--is that the few remaining sensible people in the Republican Party aren't letting Tom Delay chain them to a radical agenda anymore. Because he's not in charge anymore. So for once, the moderate faction of the Republican Party, also known as the Republican Party, has started throwing its weight around. As a result, the budget only passed by two votes, and the psycho anti-Robin Hood clique had to work their platinum-plated asses off to get those votes.

This in a heavily Republican-dominated Congress.

Of course, another issue to consider is that all of these Representatives are going to be up for re-election in '06, and the President's agenda is so repugnant to so many Americans at this point that Republicans are running away from it in droves.


I like this stuff.

Now, here's where this story and the next story link up. The next story is about Ariel Sharon abandoning the Likud Party and starting a new, "centrist" party that can hopefully capture the majority of the Israeli political populace with ...imagine this...real, moderate, reasonable ideas about the Palestinian situation, the economy, and other stuff.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a party like that here? Such a party would count among its members Olympia Snowe, John McCain, John Murtha, Barbara Boxer and other good people from the center-right to the center-left, who are fed up with the brownshirt liars running the Republican Party and the equivocating weenies who seem to be the majority of voices coming from the Democrats.

And I'll tell you one thing--if, after what this Administration has done to this country, the Democrats can't pull out a huge victory in '06, they're just...done. And it'll be time to think like Ariel Sharon and start organizing a new party along reasonable, moderate lines.

Yeah, who ever thought a radical lefty leftist like myself would be advocating moderation and centrism? Certainly not me. But here we are. Left and right are at each other's throats and it's time for someone to come in and break up the fight, find some common ground and tone down the viciousness of modern political discourse.

Ok then...onto...

Issue 2: Ariel Sharon and the Prisoner of Likudskaban. Well, he's broken out of the prison of nationalistic right-wing Israeli politics, and now he's going to form a new, centrist party tentatively titled the National Responsibility Party. Not very catchy--I have a feeling that'll change a few times before it's finalized.

Here's the deal. Ariel Sharon used to be the enemy of all that is sacred to those of us on the reasonable side of Progressive Zionism. He was the architect of the settler movement, he was an ultra-nationalist, and when he first got into office he was faithful to his hawkish ways and did some really nasty things, thus worsening an already out of control Intifada that he helped to create.

But then, somehow, somewhere, he realized that something wasn't working. Now I'm not going to rehash what I said in my "Why Ariel Sharon Is the Best Hope for Israel" shpiel, because you've read that already. Haven't you? Ok, go scroll down on this blog, find it, read it, and come back. I'll wait.

Ok, you've read it? Because I pretty much still stand by it. Ariel Sharon is in the best possible position that any Israeli leader could be in this day and age. He is a leader from the right, the people who didn't want to engage with the Palestinians on any meaningful level except bombing them and trying to eradicate the terrorists. And he's managed to drag these people kicking and screaming over to the center. This in itself is astonishing.

But now he has a real chance to unite Israel behind a reasonable, moderate and pragmatic vision, a centrist party that can capture the best slices out of the arguments on both sides. If he pulls it off, he might just be able to do what Yitzhak Rabin and so many other Israeli heroes couldn't: build a peaceful, two-state solution that protects Israel's security as a homeland for the Jews, and gives the Palestinians a democratic state that can finally rid itself of terrorist groups that will become irrelevant and discredited.

All this thanks to the bumbling of the Labor Party, which incidentally I used to support. By electing Peretz as its leader, the Labor Party has doomed itself into irrelevancy forever. Sharon has way too much political capital to be toppled by a charismatic union leader with very little political experience. Peretz is the best thing to happen to Sharon since he beat Netanyahu's factions in the Likud elections a few months ago.

Bottom line: Sharon will win the March elections in a landslide. The few Labor MPs that are elected will join Sharon in coalition, and both the far left and the far right will be marginalized like they never have been before. All of which is extremely good for both Israel and the Palestinians.

Well, that's enough for now. Signing off without a catchphrase, this is lefthook.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Alito and other stuff

Well, it's as we feared. Bush has nominated a Scaliasolini to the Supreme Court. It's up to good progressives to do what we can to fight this nomination tooth and nail and make sure he goes down in flames like Robert Bork.

Several groups have petitions online. I signed the one put out by

I'm pretty terrified that this country is about to take a hard right turn. And considering how far right we are at the moment, that's not good. We can only hope that the Democrats show enough chutzpah to block this nomination. I'm all for a filibuster.

A couple of other things:

--Last week George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu) came out. I just wanted to acknowledge that and welcome him to the club. He'll be receiving his party pack soon.

--Israel is waging an all-out war on Hamas. I'm hopeful that since Israel has withdrawn from Gaza, Hamas will lose credibility when it tries to fight the "Zionist occupation" since, well, there isn't much of an occupation anymore, at least in Gaza. We need to get out of the West Bank, and soon. The sooner we do everything the Palestinians claim they want us to do, the sooner the terrorist factions lose international credibility with their reasoning for attacking Israelis. And once the terrorists lose credibility, the terrorists lose. Then we can start talking about peaceful coexistence.

Hope everyone had a happy Halloween. I had no trick-or-treaters at my abode, which was actually pretty nice for a change. Instead, my partner and I curled up on the couch and watched Ringu 2, which is a far better, but still very confusing and disjointed, film than its American counterpart.

Till next time, this is lefthook, signing out without a catchphrase.