THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS 2003

By Bernard J. Shapiro

Pundits and commentators are already trying to determine the real meaning of the 2003 Israeli election. I have seen too many elections come and go to try to be profound at this point. Israeli elections may show the democratic choice of the Israeli electorate, but the people seldom get the government they voted for.

For example, in 1992 the Israeli people chose Yitzhak Rabin who had promised a strong stand against terrorism and to "never go down from the Golan" or to "divide Jerusalem." What the public got was Oslo, terrorism and total renunciation of the promises made to the Israeli electorate.

In each successive election in the last 10 years victors (first Netanyahu) promised to end Oslo. Then Ehud Barak promised to "end the conflict" and finally Sharon in 1999 promised "peace and security." In the recent election Sharon promised an end to terrorism and the foundation of a peaceful demilitarized "Palestinian state." All of the promises have proven to be futile and unfulfilled as will Sharon's most recent ones.

So today I will forgo prognostications about the future course of Israeli policy. Though the voters gave the national-religious-Zionist parties an overwhelming majority, this is not proof that they won't again be cheated out of that victory. Sharon is already talking about bringing the Labor party with its delusional leader, Shimon Peres, into a national unity government. In fact, Sharon seems to believe that national unity is so great the it supersedes all other matters, like protecting the Jewish people's patrimony, Eretz Yisrael.

Give me a month or two to interpret the election. It is too early to tell the nature, makeup and true direction of Israel's new government. Let us pray for Israeli leaders to have great wisdom during this critical time.



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