Hello, citizens of PDRP! This is our first episode, and we dive straight into controversy with this one! Taking a deep, analytical looks on the workings of Israeli parliament, elections and general craziness, and learning a lot of valuable new things in the process. Sound quality issues, as always, in the first episodes, but we’re really proud of the content. Enjoy!

9 thoughts on “Israel

    1. Curonian

      We’re waiting for approval there, should be there in a day or two. It’s not an instant process sadly.

  1. JiO

    Fascinating, thanks! Very informative discussion.

  2. Hebrew

    I finally got around to listening to the show you did on Israel. Your guest was very knowledgeable but also very clearly from the Israeli “left” camp. I think its important to note for those new to Israeli politics that Israel is maybe the only example where what is traditionally known as the Left in other countries would actually be considered the Right and vice versa. In Israel, it was the Labor party that for decades denied the vote to Arabs and kept the Mizrahi Jews out of power. The Israeli Left also continues to advocate the partition of the country into a Jewish part and an Arab part, and routinely plays the demographic race card- which in other countries would be intolerable- and the Israeli Left regularly weakens democratic institutions such as the Parliament (the Knesset) in favor of the Supreme Court which self-selects its own members and has the power to overrule any piece of legislation even without a “controversy” ie. an impacted party that brings a lawsuit to challenge a law. In contrast, it is the Israeli Right (under Menachim Begin) that gave the vote to Arabs and opened the halls of power to Mizrahi Jews. Its been the Right that has tried to naturalize and extend full rights and voting to Palestinians (each effort has been shut down the U.S., the first time famously by the Jimmy Carter Administration); Its also been the Right that has tried to strengthen democracy by strengthening the legislative branch and putting checks on the Supreme Court’s power to self-select its own members and overrule unchallenged legislation.

    I also found your guest’s introduction to what is an Israeli and a Jew to be interesting. Although he outlines a perspective held by many, it is certainly not the agreed upon perspective. All Jews have the legal right to immigrate and settle in Israel and that is because being Jewish is both an ethnicity and a national identity, supported by thousands of years of history. You were therefore not wrong in assuming that being Jewish and being Israeli are the same. The authentic identity of a Jewish person has been to see themselves as an Israeli/Palestinian with their national home in the land of Israel aka Palestine. And today in the US a Jew can fill out the census by marking their origin as middle eastern and writing in Israeli. And your guests implied assertion in the introduction that the Jews of today’s modern world do not share the same genetics or blood line as the Jews of ancient Israel/Palestine is wrong. Many studies have shown that Jews from all parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, and Asia, all share the same genetic makeup. And more so, there are many Jews today that can trace their lineage all the way back to the brother of Moses ie. Aaron the High Priest from the tribe of Levi.

    1. Erez Bittan

      Hi, I’m Erez, Kristap’s guest, I figured I’d respond to your comment and the concerns you raised. Firstly I wanted to thank you for the compliment, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time studying Israeli history and political history in particular. I just wished to correct you on a few points. Firstly, the Labor party in Israel is decidedly left, and in actuality the only arena where it could be seen as right-wing is the “security” one, since Labor, as I briefly mentioned in the comments, did father the settlements and the conquest of the occupied territories. The Labor party however, as the ruling party until 1977, can be blamed for most of the atrocities and wrongdoings of that era, blaming them for what occurs currently or after that is somewhat dubious, but let me first address your points. I’m not quite sure what you mean that the Labor party denied Arabs the vote? Arab-Israelis had the vote since the founding of the state and Palestinians in the occupied territories don’t have the vote to this day. Arab-Israelis did live under certain provisions of martial law in Israel for a time but those did not block their ability to vote or be elected into office and they were lifted in 1966 by a Labor government, furthermore Arabs have been members in the Israeli Knesset since the first Israeli elections in 1949. Mizrahi Jews are a more complex story, but to present them as solely oppressed by the left and saved by the right is ridiculous, especially considering that besides the (frankly ridiculous) attempt of the Centrist Kadima party to run Shaul Mofaz as a candidate for PM, Labor was the only major Israeli party to run a Mizrahi candidate for PM when they ran Peretz. On top of that, Labor and Meretz have both regularly outperformed Likud and other right-wing parties in terms of numbers and precentages of Mizrahi MKs and candidates, thus being a much better conduit for “[opening] the halls of power to Mizrahi Jews”. To go on, the left has supported partition, but then, so did most Palestinians, and your presentation of this, as if the Israeli right supports annexation and full granting of rights to Palestinians is patently false. At no point did Likud ever advocate for full annexation and at no point did they ever attempt to push it through, in fact the current Likud government’s position on the subject is still support for a two-state solution, it’s just that they don’t do anything about it and they refuse to make any moves towards a comprehensive peace, no Likudnik or right-winger would ever advocate for a proper one-state solution because such a solution would be to abandon the Zionist dream of a Jewish state ruled by Jews. Now on to your point about the Supreme court, it’s true that supporting the court’s power over the legislature is not “democratic” in the strict sense of the word, but then again Israel is not a democracy, just like the US, it’s a republic, and a hallmark of well functioning republics is a strong independent judiciary. Consider for example the case of Turkey, where one of Erdogan’s first moves in consolidating power and turning himself into a modern day Sultan has been rooting out rivals in the judiciary and turning it into his puppet. If one looks at history one can easily see that strengthening the judiciary and its ability to counterbalance the power of the legislature (especially when the government is ruled by those that would like to bulldoze the supreme court.) is beneficial to maintaining a democratic republic and avoiding the pitfalls of tyranny by majority. As for my views on Judaism, I will continue to state emphatically that unless you lived in Israel, you are not truly Israeli, just like an “Italian” whose family has lived for five generations in Brooklyn, is not truly Italian. Your blood can be connected directly to Moses himself (and I never claimed that modern day Jews aren’t), but national identity is conferred by a place and direct, tangible connection, you aren’t Israeli unless you’ve lived there and had to undergo the hardships, mine is the Labor-Zionist perspective, every Jew can be an Israeli, but in order for that to happen he must have a stake in Israel and its future. Also, legally speaking not every Jew is given Israeli citizenship, only those that immigrate there or are the children of citizens, so no, I was not wrong by any modern definition, when I explained to Kristaps the difference. Lastly, I never implied that Jews don’t have a direct connection to ancient Jewry and ancient Israel, they most certainly do, however my introduction focused on the fact that Jews were in the diaspora for 2000 years, and that in that time new inhabitants arrived, and that to kick them out based on some ancient claim is as ridiculous as kicking out all those of European descent out of the US based on the Native American claim to the land.

    2. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for first-time blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  3. Ilias

    I came here from the Eastern Border podcast and boy was I blown away by all the drama and instability in modern Israeli politics. I thought it would be a boring talk about politics and administration minutiae but it was a very nice presentation even if one can’t compress all those figures and situations in a few hours of casual talk. Congrats and thanks to Erez too for the great narrative and insight. Being from Greece we don’t get to hear much middle ground/balanced talk about Israel past the usual antisemitic stereotypes and/or hawkish antiarab stereotypes and this was a refreshing change. Great job you guys!

  4. Ploni

    Erez sounds like a reasonable fellow. But he (like everyone else) picks and chooses his facts. He makes absolutely no effort to hide his biases.
    1. Shamir is a lizzard
    2. Hasidim – the ones with the funny curly bits of hair hanging down (not an exact quote, but this one was really troubling – close to anitsemitism, maybe)
    3. While Yvette Lieberman’s military service is dwelled on at length – not a word about Yair Lapid’s equally absurd military service.
    4. In keeping with longstanding Left wing Israeli practice, the criminal investigations into Ariel Sharon and his sons is not mentioned (the “etrog” treatment, as we call it here…)

    Additionally, when he starts discussing the religious parties, i.e. Shas, the Mafdal / Bayit Yehudi, Aguda, a certain level of ignorance on his part about these parties is very evident to an informed listener.

    One last point to the two of you – you had a merry time ridiculing Bibi about his adverts in the last elections about how Isis would be on our borders. And look what is happening – we got Bibi and in the Sinai and in Syria, lo and behold, Isis is on the borders.

    All of this makes me wonder how biased and inaccurate the other podcast in this series may be (to say nothing about any other podcasts in this extended family…).

    1. Erez Bittan

      Hi. Erez here again. To refer to your points.
      1) Not a fan of Shamir and I described him in a way that I felt encompassed many of his qualities. I had no pretense of objectivity but delivered my opinion straight.
      2) I apologize if I offended, I know many Hasidim and many are great, I described their appearance in a way that I felt would be most recognizable to most people. I have a problem with how the haredi community goes about essentially defrauding the Israeli state in many ways but this is more an institutional and less an individual problem that has its roots at the very founding of the state.
      3) Yair Lapid isn’t as relevant in this context and is not the current MoD. But yes, were he claiming to be a bithonist in the same way Lieberman is then his ridiculous military service should be brought against him. I’m by no means a fan of Lapid who I view as a more vapid and less substantial version of his father as a politician.
      4) I believe we might have actually discussed the Sharon investigation in parts that were cut out. Regardless we had a lot of ground to cover and covered what we could. I am no fan of Ariel Sharon and the suggestion that he is associated with the left in Israel is laughable.

      5) I would love to learn more about Shas and the other religious parties. I felt like I laid out a good basis here but if you have more resources or corrections you’d like to make I am open and listening.

      6) Bibi’s ads still proved untrue. He became PM but Daesh is nowhere near entering Israel and the entire security establishment has called that idea laughable. Furthermore it is the current incarnation of Jabbat Al Nusra that controls tge Syrian-Israeli border region at the moment and they are not affiliated with Daesh at all.

      Again, I welcome criticism and will gladly respond as soon as I can. Thank you for listening.

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