Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1: Israel's Due For Change

By Sylvia Gurinsky

With the exception of the year-and-a-half that Ehud Barak was prime minister, members of the Likud party have led - or rather, misled - the state of Israel for the last 14 years. (That includes Ariel Sharon, who left Likud for Kadima before he suffered his debilitating stroke in 2006.)

Here's what they've managed:

-Political and personal scandals, including a president and prime minister who had to resign and a foreign minister who can't visit any foreign countries and who may be the next politician indicted.

-Increasing the socio-economic divide between rich and poor.

-Setting back standards for women.

-Antagonistic behavior both within Israel and in the world community.

-A deterioration in quality of its entities, including the Israel Defense Forces, the intelligence community and the ability to communicate clearly with the rest of the world.

Every time Israel takes a step forward, as with its relief workers efforts in Haiti last January or its recent naming to the Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development, it takes three steps backward - whether with its announcement of the building of settlements while Vice President Joe Biden was on a state visit, or its clumsy and tragic efforts yesterday in preventing that flotilla from reaching Gaza.

In all of this, the peace process has taken many steps backward. Granted, it isn't all Israel's fault; former President George W. Bush's 2005 green light for Palestinian elections that brought Hamas into power in Gaza didn't help.

Ultimately, though, Israel faces responsibility within its own borders and with the rest of the world as to how it deals with important issues.

The country is failing, both inside and out. That means it's time for change - within Israel's government.

American voters are throwing out politicians with whom they disagree. British voters tossed out the Labour party after things soured.

It's time for Likud and its right-wing allies to leave as well.

Israel needs hope, promise and peace - three things that will not come from Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.

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