Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mazel Tov Peres

Well, the impossible has happened! Shimon Peres has won an election (well, technically he didn't win because the other candidates both pulled out, but he would have won). He is now the president elect of Israel in an honest and open election. In two months he will be 84 years old, and he has just been elected for a 7 year term of office. By the end surely he will be one of the oldest politicians in the world (and who can imagine anything ever happening to him? He seems to be immortal, certainly he is politically eternal). So I was wrong, thinking that he could never win.

On the other hand, Barak won his election as leader of the Labour Party with only a small amount of cheating (and only by Arabs and Druze, so it is probably OK).

Barak received a total of 34,542, while Ayalon got 32,117 of the votes (47.7 percent), while 683 of the party's registered voters abstained from voting. That means the difference between them was 2,425! That is a very small margin of victory. Ayalon was gracious in defeat. Listen to this:

Ayalon praised Barak for his victory and said that he would cooperate with the new chairman. However, he told Israel Radio that irrespective of the result, which he said he accepted, he would submit a complaint to police and to the attorney general over misdemeanors he claimed were witnessed at several polling stations. "Labor is my house and my house must be clean," he said.

The head of a polling station in Shfaram was allegedly caught stuffing dozens of ballots for Barak. In Tira, police came to the polling station after its chairman complained he was attacked by a Barak loyalist. The Ayalon campaign asked to stop the voting in Julis, because people were voting there without identification.

I am beginning to like Ayalon more and more. The truth is that I knew nothing about him before these elections. Now he seems to be an honest person (which is impossible in politics), and even though I don't agree with his views, I can respect someone who respects me. This is what Wikipedia has to say about him:

On 25 June 2003, Ayalon launched, together with Palestinian professor Sari Nusseibeh, a peace initiative called "The People's Voice". The goal of the initiative is to collect as many signatures of Israelis and Palestinians as possible for the peace plan guidelines supporting a two-state solution without the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Although Ayalon promotes traditional left-wing ideas, he insists he is not a part of the Israeli left and spurns the Israeli peace camp for its hostility toward the Israeli public and especially toward the settlers. Ayalon managed to outrage many left-wing activists when he said that only Ariel Sharon and the Likud could bring peace.

He took part in the "Mate ha-Rov" demonstration in support of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and made a very critical speech against the Israeli peace camp. He said:

We, who protest here, did not succeed in sinking through to the majority of the people. The majority is silent and therefore has no influence. I will tell you why the majority is not here. They are not here because we didn't manage to settle in the hearts [Hebrew: להתנחל בלבבות, originally a phrase invented by the settlers] of this true majority, the majority that makes the difference. We didn't manage to talk and perhaps we didn't even want to. We turned the settlers of Yesha into enemies and in an overbearing manner we banished them to the outskirts. We will only succeed when the grief of the evacuees will overcome the joyous cry of the evacuators. We claimed the desire for peace solely as our own. The majority sits at home and is quiet, although it wants out of Gaza the same as we do. The majority doesn't care, and shouldn't care, which person signs the accords to end the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict. In order to get out of Gaza, the majority of the people must not be silent. [2]

So, (apart from the fact that he teamed up with Peretz in this second round,) the only thing I have against him (and this is definitely tongue in cheek in case you thought I was serious) is that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Riff Raff (aka Richard O'Brian from New Zealand). Can you tell them apart?

Let's hope that somehow his the two victories of the two 'old' leaders will somehow usher in a 'new' era of politics. Unfortunately I don't think Israel is ready for the new just yet though (at least the politicians aren't). And when it goes pear shaped for Barak (probably within the year) I hope Ayalon tries again and does well.

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