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June 19, 1992 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-06-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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ever, are the hot items of the election, and are expected
to siphon off a lot of Likud votes. Tsomet (Crossroads),
headed by Rafael Eitan, Army chief of staff during the
Lebanon War, is expected to at least double its current
two seats. It stands for a stronger hand against the in-
tifada, and wins respect even from its ideological oppo-
nents for strongly opposing political deal-making with
the ultra-Orthodox.
Moledet (Homeland), led by retired Army Gen. Re-
havam Ze'evi, is the party of "voluntary transfer" (one of
the most Orwellian terms in the Israeli political dictio-
nary.) Mr. Ze'evi says it means making life so difficult for
the Palestinians that they will emigrate from the West
Bank and Gaza voluntarily. Polls show that Moledet also
stands to double its two Knesset seats.
Most of the parties, however, will not make it into
the Knesset at all, because to win one of the 120 Knes-
set seats, they need at least 1.5 percent of the vote, or
roughly 40,000 ballots. The shame of it is that with all
the sausage sellers, cab drivers and meditators, some
of these parties are serious, and are raising important is-
sues that no other party has found worthy of mention.
The Women's Party is one.
The problem of violence in the home, of physical and
sexual abuse, has become a much talked-about issue in
the last couple of years, after decades of silence. It seems
that every day in the mass circulation Hebrew newspa-
pers, there are three, four or five stories about some man
who raped his daughter repeatedly for years, or put out
cigarettes on his 9-month-old son, or choked his wife.
Only the Women's Party has made domestic violence a
major political issue, yet the party doesn't even show up
in the polls.

Asked why more women hadn't rallied to its cause,
party leader Ruth Resnick said most of its potential sup-
porters, especially on the left, "have been brainwashed
into believing that what happens with the territories is
more important than their own issues."
Ms. Resnick, a former Herzliya city councilwoman,
is herself a renegade from the dominant left-wing party,
Meretz (Vigor). This party is a merger of three smaller
left-wing, Zionist political groupings. While Tsomet and
Moledet hunt for support among Likud hawks, Meretz
sniffs around Labor's dovish wing. The party is Israel's
third-largest, after Labor and Likud, and has 10 seats in
the Knesset; polls say it could get from nine to 13 this
time around.
The Arab population has enough voters to grab 13 seats
for its own, ultra-left-wing parties, but Israeli Arabs have
always been too fractured politically to maximize their
strength. Such is the case again in the current election,
with three Arab parties, all with very similar platforms
— favoring a Palestinian state and more funds for Arab
villages — compete against each other. Many Arab votes
will also go to Labor and Meretz, some even will go to the
Likud, and a few others may go to Jewish religious par-
ties that have done favors for a particular village, clan or
powerful personality.
The biggest disappointment in the election is the poor
showing by the Russian immigrant parties, Da ("Yes" in
Russian) and the Israel Renaissance Movement. The par-
ties have taken no stands except to demand more bene-
fits for the immigrants, and the leaders are veterans
unknown to and untrusted by the more recent arrivals
from the former Soviet Union. Their TV advertisementh
have been an embarrassment. Neither party shows up

in the polls. Some 280,000 Russian immigrants are eli-
gible to vote; that's about 10 Knesset seats if they all show •
up at the election booths. Polls say the Russians will go
for Labor over Likud by about a 4-1 margin, with their "-
remaining votes spread between the far-right parties and
4
Meretz.
One electoral bloc the Russians will stay away from in
droves is the ultra-Orthodox. The largest grouping, Unit-
ed Torah Judaism, is an Ashkenazi-Sephardi patchwork
led by the former boss of the Knesset Finance Commit-
tee, Rabbi Avraham Shapira.
Shas, the Sephardi Torah Observant Federation, has
been stung by the more than two-year-long corruption. 4
scandal surrounding its leader, Interior Minister Arye
Deri. The young minister, however, is very adept at blam-
ing the media and the godless politicians for picking on
him because he's Moroccan and religious, and his counter-
campaign probably will work. The ultra-Orthodox hold
12 Knesset seats; the National Religious Party (combin-
ing love for the Torah, the territories and Army service),
has five. They will probably maintain their strength in
the balloting.
Neither Labor nor Likud can form a government with-
out the religious parties. Being deeply conservative, the
religious parties would probably join forces only with the
Likud. With the help of the far-right, the Likud and the
religous could again form the government. Or Labor, with
Meretz and the anti-Likud votes of the Arab parties, could'
form a "blocking coalition" that would likely lead to a La-
bor-Likud unity government, which would leave all these
feisty little parties out in the cold.



I

2

Washington worries: Secretary of State James Baker (left) with Prime Minister Shamir and Foreign Minister David Levy. The Bush administration wants to see Shamir lose, but without appearing
heavy-handed about it.

28

FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 1992

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