January 28, 2013
Doris Strub Epstein
ISRAELI ELECTIONS REFLECT “DEEP CHANGES” IN THE COUNTRY; KEDAR
The overflowing audience at Temple Sinai Sunday night was treated to an in-depth, insider’s analysis of the recent Israeli elections and an unvarnished, profoundly knowledgeable look at the Middle East, from a man who tells it as it is with no fear of being politically incorrect. Dr. Mordechai Kedar. He is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam who is fluent in Arabic, a lecturer at Bar Ilan University and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Middle East and Islam. He also spent 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence acheiving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Short of stature but huge in personality, he cut through the complexities of Israel and the Middle East in simple language. He was called a “ball of fire” at the Brooklyn synagogue where he spoke last week, part of a month long North American visit and lecture tour.
Kedar’s analysis and insights of the recent election, sheds light on what the results tell us about today’s Israelis. Likud had 40 seats in the Knesset and expected even more. Instead they lost by 25 per cent. By concentrating on security in their campaign, and ignoring the economic complaints especially of the younger generation, Likud “missed the point”, Kedar said. Their slogan was a “Powerful Prime Minister for a Powerful Israel”. “Israelis didn’t buy it.” The reason he gave was that because of the chaos of the Arab Spring, Israel’s neighbours and enemies do not at present, pose an imminent danger.
In Egypt with its 90 million, at least 30 million live in” boxes” with no running water, sewage or electricity. Tourism is almost nil, no external investments and no jobs. He predicts bankruptcy in a few months. “Egypt is at the edge of the abyss. The next revolution will not be about democracy or the Muslim Brotherhood, it will be about hunger and food.”
Syria poses no threat with its disastrous infighting. “Rape in masses, butchering it’s own people. Seventy thousand dead, ten per cent refugees, the economy non functional and the infra structure destroyed.”
Demonstrators in Jordan are carrying signs that say “go away”. With roughly 70 per cent Palestinians residing there, “there could be a Palestine in Jordan and it’s not the Israeli right wing saying it,” said Kedar. “The domino effect will come; it’s not if, it’s when. King Abdullah comes to Washington each month, primarily to urge Obama to exert pressure on Israel to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria”.
With no gateway through Syria for Iran to funnel armaments to Nasralla, he is “left alone” in Lebanon and is not an immediate threat.
“When our neighbours fight each other, we can start dealing with housing, university tuition and cottage cheese,” he said. “The leaders of the Occupy movement on the streets of the main cities in Israel are in the Knesset now.” But Likud didn’t pay attention to this change in emphasis to a social agenda. They lost because they did not address the issues of the 18 to 30 year olds. “This shift to social issues was fermenting several years in Israeli society and expressed itself in the elections.”
Labour with 15 seats and the Jewish Home Party with 12, drained away voters from Likud. Kedar extolled the virtues of the 40 year old Naftali Bennet , whose “young vibrant” party the Jewish Home, won 12 seats. He was a major in the top elite commando unit, Secretary of the Judea-Samaria block, so successful as a high tech entrepreneur, he sold his business for 150 million dollars. “He doesn’t need anybody slipping him envelopes,” Kedar joked.
Shas with ll seats, lost to Jewish Home too, even though it is not a religious party.
Another shift, he pointed out, has been from a secular oriented Knesset, to more religious, with about 40 men and women – a third- covering their heads. There has been a significant increase in the religious population in recent years, because the religious tend to have more children. “Take me for example” said Kedar, who wears a kippah and is religious. “I have five children, more than the norm.”
Iran was not on any parties’ political campaign because Israelis don’t want it discussed in public, he said. “Iran is never discussed in the public sphere , only in secret and by professionals not politicians.”
The two state solution is fading in appeal. It was not on the public agenda because “we saw what happened in Gaza. and it’s understood that a Palestinian State on the West Bank might turn into another Hamas. And those that advocate it (outside of Israel) won’t come to save us if that happens,” said Kedar who opposes a Palestinian state.
Kedar has devised the eight state solution based on existing clans. They would be independent Palestinian emirate type city -states located in eight major Palestinian population centers with foundations in homogenous populations. The notion of nationalism and loyalty to a country or state is alien to Arabs. Their loyalty is to the tribe, the ethnic group , the religious group.
Palestinian society is based on clans and tribes who have little trust of each other. He compares it with Afganistan a “failed state of 11 ethnic groups that don’t share language, mindset, tradition, behaviour, nothing. Nobody can expect they’ll cooperate in anything. There is no Afghani people.”
“It goes back to the hot bosom of the original Middle East. Democracy, the state, nationalism – everything imported by Europe failed.” Unlike Yemen, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq and even Iran, the Arab Emirates are stable because they are socially homogeneous societies.” He calls his concept, the Palestinian Emirates.
Israel Truth Week