Shortly after the polls closed in Israel's Knesset election this past Tuesday, two American Liberal Zionist groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now (APN), were out with triumphant emails to their peace-oriented members:
"Israel voters have chosen a new government that will 'revive the peace process with the Palestinians and make vital moves to 'save' Israel."
Writing for Mondoweiss, the website co-edited by Philip Weiss and Adan Horowitz, Alex Kane bluntly rejects that optimistic conclusion:
In his scathing criticism of the optimism of J Street and APN, Kane sets the stage for what will most certainly be an intense struggle within the American peace camp over the meaning of this Knesset election:
"The liberal Zionist wing of the American Jewish community are deluding themselves about the results of the Israeli elections.
"They see the Israeli elections as a triumph for politicians who are going to revive the peace process with the Palestinians and make vital moves to 'save' Israel, in their words, from the scourge of apartheid or a one-state solution with equal rights for all.- Advertisement -
"But their rhetoric about the outcome of the elections represents a fantasy with little bearing in the reality of what the Israeli government is and will continue to be: a settlement expanding, occupation supporting right-wing government that is committed to the suppression of Palestinian rights within the Green Line and in the West Bank and Gaza.
"The Israeli government, in other words, will remain committed to the status quo of apartheid."
Ha'aretz columnist Ari Shavit joins the optimistic K Street amd APN crowd with his cry of relief that the election results benefit Israel's identity:
"This week the idiotic march of the right to the right wing of the right came to an end, and the renewed march of the right toward the center began.
"But above all, the election results have significance for our identity. The dramatic headline of the election is short: Israel is not right-wing. This week proved that as opposed to the impression both here in Israel and in the world, Israel is not messianic and not racist and not anti-democratic. We are not all Moshe Feiglin [referring to a newly elected Likud Knesset member well-known for his extremist anti-Palestinian views.]"
Contrary to many pre-election stories that promised a surprise increase to as many as 15 seats for the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, led by Naftali Bennett, Bayit Yehudi was not the surprise of this week's election.
The surprise of the election Tuesday was the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, led not by a "charismatic" figure, but by a "handsome" former television personality turned politician in time to run in this 2013 election, Yair Lapid (shown above).
The most likely result of the election will be for Israeli President Shimon Peres to instruct Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government, one which will place leadership in the months ahead in a coalition led by the right-wing Netanyahu-Liberman parties with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party.
Several reports from Israel predict that unless Avigdor Lieberman demands his Foreign Ministry post back (he resigned earlier because of legal problems) that post could go to Yasir Lapid.
It is worth noting that Lapid's parents moved their family to Israel when Lapid was a small child. Lapid learned his English from his American-born parents. He later worked in New York City, improving his American-made accent, a great advantage for an Israel foreign minister.