Sunday, January 15, 2006

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

It seems that life in Israel is returning to normal, or whatever actually passes for normal in this neck of the desert. The Prime Minister continues to lay in hospital in a coma, in "serious but stable" condition, as they like to say (and, may I also take this opportunity to say how relieved I am that they have stopped giving us status reports regarding his urine output? I'm all for transparency in these cases, but frankly, that's just a little bit more than I need to know!), with no noticeable improvement as of late. As it begins to dawn on us all that it may take some time before we see any significant changes (if indeed, he ever does regain consciousness, cognitive and complex motor skills, etc.), we have begun to turn our attention to other events.

Once again, the political scene does not fail to entertain and keep us in suspense. Recent party elections in both the Likud party and the Shinui party have been most interesting, as veterans in both parties were shunted aside for newbies. Virtual unknowns have suddenly leapt to the tops of their respective party lists, producing notably different responses from party leaders. While Binyamin Netanyahu, is, according to news reports, quite pleased with the outcome of his party's elections, the same cannot be said for Shinui's Tommy Lapid, who is considering a split from the party he founded, following the ouster of Avraham Poraz from his traditional spot at number two on the party list. Recent elections in the Hadash party also produced surprising results, as old guard party member Issam Makhoul was beaten for the number two slot by newcomer Hana Sawid, the director-general of the Alternative Planning Center and former head of the Ilbon municipal council. From the look of things, it seems that Sharon's escape from the Likud party to form Kadima, followed by his subsequent stroke and unclear future have spurred Israeli voters across the board to make a clean break from the politics of yesterday, replacing experienced politicians with newcomers, and infusing us all with the hope that change for good is finally in the air.

Also in politics, it seems that Shimon Peres may be in for some trouble - or at the very least, some very public discomfort - over allegations of receiving improper campaign contributions when campaigning for the chairmanship of the Labor Party, back in 2004. I will be very disappointed if it turns out to be true, as I always thought that Peres, despite his inability to win, was above such shenanigans, one of the few true statesmen in Israeli politics. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how the story unfolds, and hope that everything works out as it should.

Politics aside, the Hebron settlers are up to their old tricks again, attacking members of the security forces and rioting throughout the city. According to the article on Haaretz,

"The settlers have clashed with security forces for several days over a court order to evict eight Jewish families who have occupied Palestinian-owned stores in the Hebron marketplace for years."
These radical hooligans must be stopped and punished, and punished in such a way as to deter similar acts from being committed in the future. Of course, I'm not actually sure that there is such a way to deter these self-serving individuals, who have no qualms about attacking either innocent Palestinians (including women and children) or members of the security forces who have been sent to this city in order to protect the settler enclaves. Their can be no justification for their thuggery or their vandalism, and there should be no compromise with regard to the government response to their actions, especially in light of their callous disregard for authority.

And, with regard to Israel's unofficial favorite winter pastime, the rains that drenched most of the country during the past week have allowed the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) to rise by a whopping two centimeters over the weekend, bringing it up to -211.60. Still more than two meters to go before we reach the upper red line, but every drop counts. Despite the havoc that these rains have wrought, as any Israeli will tell you (and any new immigrant learns during their first winter here), we really need the rain. Don't put your umbrellas and duck boots away just yet - still lots more fun to come throughout this week...

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