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Before the 1970s, Israeli socialists were ultra-right by modern standards. They openly hated Arabs and repressed them. That has changed with Likud’s ascent to power, which has forced socialist parties to differentiate themselves from the right-wingers.

A similar process is going on today. Likud is pandering superficially to its voters by introducing somewhat nationalistic policies, forcing Kadima to differentiate itself—although two years ago Livni and Netanyahu held similar opinions on most issues. And so Livni declared in the Knesset that Netanyahu is working to undermine Israeli democracy. Among his ‘crimes’ is a bill to limit foreign donations to ultra-leftist Israeli NGOs.

The latest round of confrontation between West Bank rabbis and the army centers around the prohibition for religious soldiers to attend live singing performances by women. The army is fond of such performances.

The issue is very old, and not particularly important compared to the many other religious transgressions occurring in the army. The brass provoked the conflict by punishing a few religious soldiers who quietly left a singing event.

The army has a problem. Most conscripts assigned to combat units come from Judea and Samaria. If they are not ultra-religious themselves, they at least sympathize with the yeshiva draftees. But the army remains institutionally leftist, which deeply offends their values.

Instead of coming to terms with growing religious sentiment, the army seeks to converting conscripts to secularism.

Mahmoud Abbas in UNNow that their bid is stalled in the UNSC, we can ponder whether it was wise. And yes, it was.

Regardless of whether he has won UNSC approval, Abbas has won the UNGA to his side. This is something that Jewish state has never accomplished even once. In effect, Abbas has achieved a moral victory.

He did not harm his relations with the White House. Obama probably hates him just as he hated Netanyahu before, but that does not change the fact that Washington has no other party to support in the PA. To underscore that fact, the White House released $200 million in aid that it had threatened to withhold if Abbas applied to the UNGA for statehood recognition.

Nor will Israel be able to withhold tax transfers for long. Nor can it abandon Fatah militarily, unless we are willing to allow Hamas to take over the West Bank.

The Israeli arguments against the Palestinian bid were proved silly. Thus, to claim that mutually agreed-upon borders are a prerequisite for Palestine’s UN application is preposterous because the Jewish state itself came into being without a border agreement with its neighbors.

Arab diplomats revolted against Abbas for forcing their hand with his UNGA application. Indeed, they as well as their US and EU counterparts felt starkly irrelevant as Abbas dumped diplomatic intrigues in favor of appealing directly to people of the world. But they, too, will be forced back to the table by the US.

Perhaps Abbas miscalculated, imagining that he could push Obama into supporting his bid. Well, the US president is far more cynical than the Fatah leader had thought. Perhaps the peace process is now more dead than ever because the UNGA proved powerless against Jewish influence in Washington. But in the end Abbas was going down, anyway. And at least he is going down as a courageous leader who used his last chance to gain independence for his people—who happen to be our enemies.

November 2011
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