This piece started out as a Facebook status, trying to explain the Israeli elections to interested folks-at-a-distance. There is a "you had to be there" quality to really understanding the outcomes of the election - as there usually is; Israeli politics might seem to be one thing on the outside, but rarely deliver those goods in practice.
Given that I've already blogged on that point before (more or less in real time, in a wonderful conversation with Bernie ... - read it down to the bottom to see exactly what I mean), that this topic is certainly a conflict-related topic, that I received some very insightful responses to that status and that Hilary Clinton seems not to be reading my status updates, I've decided to upgrade my thoughts to blog-post status, as I'm sure that my blog makes the daily briefing at the Dep. of State. Here's what I wrote, a few days after the elections:
People hearing about new governments in Israel, or especially that Israel has gone to elections, always get excited about what this means for Middle East peace. I’ve received so many questions about this over the past few days, that as I often am – I’m overcome with gratitude at the waves of people who care and connect and make the effort to educate themselves about what is going on in what is really (let’s admit it) a very small speck of desert on the other side of the world. Thank you all.
On the other hand – I have nothing good to report. While a new government has not yet been formed, the primary actors currently involved in coalition talks have one glaringly obvious gap in their agenda: Israeli/Palestinian peace. It’s not that they are, as a group, a bunch of hawks or expansionists – it’s just that ‘The Palestinian Issue’ is simply not on the agenda; they have other fish to fry. MidEast peace will only make it to the table, IMHO, if this is necessary to help fry of these other fish or – much more likely – to distract from them. So, I’m not holding my breath.
Now, I’ll leave you to decide whether to ‘like’ this. I know you’ll be wondering (as I do when someone posts that they’re sick) whether ‘like’ means appreciation of the post, or whether you’d actually be expressing your ‘like’ for ongoing conflict in the MidEast. And by engaging with that little dilemma, you’ll be able to experience the power of distraction (Who even remembers what this post is about, anyway? Or, what you were actually supposed to be doing when you were reading it?) Sometimes, the best things in Israeli politics happen in order to distract attention from other things going on. Best I can do, for a ray of hope.
Ms. Clinton's heralding "new avenues to explore for peace" makes me wonder whether she is voicing the usual 'any change can be spun as positive', or whether she knows of upcoming issues on the political and diplomatic horizon that might make it necessary to float distractions such as peace processes... Peace is cool, of course, but I'm not sure I'm looking forward to what it might be used to distract attention from. Sometimes I feel as if nothing going on regarding Israel is real, it is all just students designing and redesigning a cool simulation-game.