Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Minor Party Politics
As a result of the new legislative threshold for seats in the next Knesset, Arab parties are having to struggle and/or merge. The merger proposal actually is not a bad idea for them or even for some of the other small as well as medium size parties. Without getting into the middle of berating a very democratic but totally unworkable party system under which Israel has functioned and which can be traced back to the fractious delegates present at the First Zionist Congress in Basal in 1897; but raising the vote threshold from 2% to 3.25% is not the solution to a party system that desperately needs reform. In addition, because of the impact on the Arab parties—which some Arabs already view as intentional—it should be an incentive find ways to bring Arabs into major party lists and not to force them essentially out of Israeli politics.
A New Party
Moshe Kahlon, after breaking away from Likud to challenge Bibi, has formed a new party, Kulanu,. How serious this effort will be remains unclear, but Kahlon distinguished himself in the past with higher level of concern for the have nots, the underclass. This also makes him a potential party for both a right/center as well as a left/center coalition to include in their coalition. Kahlon already has two female, former deputy mayors on Kulanu’s list as well as Michael Oren, the former Israeli Ambassador to Washington.
Having been totally lacking in preparation and response during last year’s serious snow storm, the Israeli Government this year went into preventive mode long before the white flakes even began to hit the ground. Schools were closed in anticipation of the snow; plows were stationed hours before even rain hit; many offices urged workers to stay home; and Jerusalem, in particular, prepared for the storm. At this point, some six hours after the snow began, some commentators are calling it a blizzard and others a dusting. Meanwhile. the country has seen how effectively the Government can respond to crises, provide services, and prepare for all eventualities even if in exaggeration; especially when elections are only 10 weeks away!
Very Serious Diplomacy
It is critically important for the Government of Israel to do nothing more than condemn the horrific terrorist attack today in Paris against the brilliant French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo; without any interpretation or effort to score political points. This terrible tragedy will speak for itself to the world about the threat to the West of terrorist attacks which are stimulated by radical Muslims. The worst thing would be for Israel to get in the middle here. Hopefully, wise leaders will draw the obvious conclusions. They certainly do not need any Israel politicians trying to weigh in with their “I told you so’s”.