Editor’s Note: Israel’s moderate Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s and her conservative rivals are both claiming victory in Israel’s elections. Exit polls show Livni’s Kadima Party edging out Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. The polls also show strong support for smaller hardline parties, though. And that could make it difficult for Livni to form a government.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/02/10/israel.elections.polls/art.livni.02.afp.gi.jpg caption="Kadima's Tzipi Livni won more support than was predicted in the Israeli elections. "]
CNN Senior Editor Mideast Affairs
A scan of Arab media shows a region that’s very interested in Israel’s general elections. Here are some of the headlines in Arab newspapers: “Israeli Elections: Between the Right and the Right”, “Hardliners will dictate who wins Israeli polls” and “Exit polls give Livni a narrow lead.”
Israeli elections are leading news shows and online discussions. Residents of the Middle East are curious about the results but have no illusions about the future. The overwhelming majority believes that any Israeli government, new or old, won’t have their interest on its agenda. They do however acknowledge that “some Israeli leaders are worse than others.” As Abdel Wahhab Badrakhan writes in the UAE’s Al-Ittihad newspaper, fundamentalist candidate Avigdor Lieberman “would like to wipe Arabs out, Adolf Hitler style.” Badrakhan and others fear that someone like Lieberman joining the new government coalition will be devastating for all Arabs.
The Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) is an entertainment network owned by Saudi businessmen but based in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai. It dedicated a segment in its morning show to discuss the Israeli elections from an Arab perspective.
First, the hosts provided the latest information on the race, giving detailed figures and statistics on the role Arab-Israelis play in these elections. Then, the show hosted Aida Touma Sleiman – a candidate running as part of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality party– she joined the show by satellite from Nazareth. Sleiman explained the intricacies of the elections and how they affect Arab-Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. She also said, “We hope to make it to parliament and have a robust presentation in the Knesset through these elections.”
What is interesting here is that through this one interview, Arabs outside Israel got a reality check on the status of Arabs inside Israel who are politically active and hopeful while realistic about the expectations. According to Aida Touma Sleiman, “Many Arab Israelis are depressed because of Israel’s ugly war on our people in Gaza and they’ve given up hope. But it is very important to understand that their participation in the elections is the only way to bring change about.”
The idea that Israel’s incursion into Gaza last month was part of the political campaign is a recurring theme on Arab media. It is illustrated in yesterday’s political cartoon of the London-based, Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Hayat newspaper. The cartoon shows Israeli jets shooting votes into a ballot box that sits atop a pile of rubble representing what’s left of Gaza.
Across the region, opinions abound summarized in simple words:
The leftist Lebanese newspaper Assafir’s headline reads, “Israel chooses a leader from a pool of three Losers and one Fascist.”
Addustur Newspaper in Jordan has this headline, “Israel elects one of its most racist and extremist governments to date.”
Syria’s Tishreen newspaper opinion piece begins with, “The world waits to see which extremist will lead Israel into the future.”
Another general feeling is compacted in this opinion from Rajab Abu Sariya with the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam. He writes, “These elections will perhaps consecrate a reality that has become clear in the Israeli political map, that Israel has become a right-wing state par excellence.”
One thing is certain; Israel’s neighbors – Most of them “sworn enemies” of the Jewish state – are paying attention to these elections.
In addition to twelve presidents - most of them not democratically elected or elected for life - the Arab world still has four Kings, three Emirs, and one Sultan. Add to that 67-year-old Moammar Gadhafi, who holds no official title but is referred to as ‘"Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution". File links The following pages link to this file: Muammar al-Qaddafi Categories: Public domain images ... Who needs a title when you’ve ruled a country that you named “Jamahiriya” – That’s Arabic for “State of The Masses” - unchallenged since 1969?
One has to wonder what the Arab masses are thinking right now. No matter what their position on Israel, would they like to hold similar elections themselves? And would they like to choose people to lead them into the future?ast
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