She: Babes, can you get me some tomato juice?
She: Wanna make some bloody mary’s and get drunk for the New Year.
He: OK. Should I go to Super-Baba?
She: Nah, why don’t you try out that new market, on Yehuda Macaabi?
He: The new market?
She: Yeah, the one opposite the falafel?
He: I didn’t know there was a supermarket opposite the falafel on Yehuda Maccabi…
He: When did they open?
He: The new market, how new are they?
She: No, Ami – it’s called “New Market”.
Big Bang Revisited
Just last week Bibi failed in tearing Kadima apart. It was his first real attempt at it, and I figure he’s going to have another go in the not too distant future.
In August I wrote here that this country is too small for three major parties (Kadima, Labor and Likud). One of them is going to have to go, and the horse race these days is between Labor and Kadima. Kadima, a party consisting of no ideology whatsoever, got stung last week by Bibi. Labor, a party that used to have an ideology but no one these days can pinpoint what it is anymore, has been in a slow, agonizing process of self-destruction over the past few years.
As I wrote back then, the Big Bang simply isn’t over yet:
Just like the Big Bang of our universe (which apparently is still expanding), our own little bang is not over either. The process has yet to be completed. Kadima never became the big party it hoped to be (mainly thanks to Olmert), and the Likud and Labor also lost their strength. In effect, the Israeli political system has entered a stalemate it has never seen before, with the electorate spread out over so many parties, and many voters feeling they can ideologically vote for almost any party seeing as how the differences between them are so small.
And how nice it is that this week Yossi Verter in Haaretz agrees (Come on, let me stroke my ego a bit. Always wanted to be a political correspondent…):
Kadima and Likud are still feeling aftershocks from the “big bang” that split Netanyahu’s party and formed Livni’s in 2005. It is as if the move initiated by former justice minister Haim Ramon, and implemented by former prime minister Ariel Sharon, was never really completed.
Parties are crashing and burning. Shinui has completely disappeared and Labor, which crumbled in the most recent elections, is apparently close to dying a martyr’s death. Now Kadima, which was so close to a split and may still be closer to it than people think, may follow suit. And the Pensioners Party. How did we forget the Pensioners’ Party?
Dozens of Knesset seats are wandering in the virtual space between the left and the right, and seeking a warm home. Avi Dichter, for example, could feel at home in any of the three ruling parties: Kadima, Labor or Likud. And he’s not the only one. There are many like him, in every party, including people in Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, which seems homogeneous. Why not combine these four into one and get it all over with?
The Freeze (My Ass)
And if I’ve already started the ego-stroking – and in such arrogant fashion, may I add – allow me to continue with what I wrote only a few weeks ago about the settlement “freeze”:
I mean, the first thing Bibi said after he announced the freeze was that it was “temporary, a one-off”. And what do you think he told hardliners in his government like Bogi Ya’alon and Benny Begin to make them shut up and go along with him? Man, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that room when he convinced them to play ball. What kind of magic did he work? I can only imagine it was something like: “Freeze? Come on, Bogi. You know me better than that! Don’t worry, it’s just words, we’ll keep building.”
Well, we really didn’t have too long, did we? Look at Haaretz lead headline today: “Construction in West Bank settlements booming despite declared freeze”:
Despite the construction freeze, dozens of settlements in the West Bank are experiencing a building boom, even on the eve of another visit to the region by U.S. envoy George Mitchell to try to restart talks for a final settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Construction is being carried out mostly to the east of the separation fence; it began shortly after warrants were issued on November 26 freezing construction.
Haaretz toured the area on Wednesday and witnessed work being carried out in the Barkan and Ariel industrial zones, as well as the construction of housing at Ariel, Elkana North, Peduel and Kfar Tapuah. A sign at Kfar Tapuah announced plans for the construction of 65 new housing units.
Right Under Your Nose
You know how sometimes, the most obvious solution to something is right under your nose? That’s how I felt when I read Alexander Ya’acobson’s op-ed today in Haaretz:
The time has come to say to the settler leaders: Okay – you’ve convinced us. It seems that a mass evacuation of settlers is an impractical idea. You showed us clearly that you’re prepared to turn such a removal into a national trauma. It’s doubtful that any Israeli politician would chance it…
If evacuation is not practical, the conclusion is to divide the land without removing settlers. Israel should formally adopt the suggestion by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad: There is no need for an evacuation; settlers who are interested may stay where they are after an Israeli withdrawal and live as a Jewish minority in a Palestinian state. Israel will have sovereignty on one side of the border and the Palestinians on the other – over everyone living there. There will be no evacuation, and Israeli soldiers won’t have to take people from their homes. They will simply retreat to the new border.
I love it! How simple is this! I don’t know why we never took this idea more seriously. If the settlers want to stay on their precious, holy land – let them do it under Palestinian rule. Plus, we don’t have to evacuate anybody, just retreat. Genius.
I think it would be justice at its best. The settlers, who have ruined Israeli and Palestinian lives for decades, would be left to fend for themselves as a Jewish minority, after getting exactly what they asked for – “their” land. Perfect.
And no, I’m not being sarcastic.