Israeli News: A Daily Analysis
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

August 5, 2008-Kadima Primaries Fight Begins

The primaries in the Kadima party are the main news story in Israel now. The primary fight became official tonight when Shaul Mofaz officially announced his candidacy. Mofaz’s slogan claims he will ensure security. Mofaz stated yesterday that Iran had made a major breakthrough in its nuclear program. The last person to make that claim publicly was Ariel Sharon when he was running against Amir Peretz. It seems that the Iranian nuclear program is tied to the Israeli election cycle. Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni made a major splash by not guaranteeing to stay in the party if she loses the primary election. While her opponents have tried to use her unwillingness to make that guarantee a means to criticize her, Livni’s aggressive position is probably to her advantage. Livni’s position has made it clear to voters that if they do not elect her in the primary, they cannot be sure the party will be able to draw on her popularity in the general election… meaning, they had better vote for her now. According to observers, Livni has been running a campaign devoid of deals, not promising anyone anything, very unlike other Israeli campaigns. Mofaz, on the other hand, is going around making as many deals as he can. Can the new politics triumph over the politics of old, especially in a primary? We will see in little more than a month (September 17th)

Knesset Member, Ami Ayalon, introduced a bill in the Knesset recently that would provide a voluntary program of National Service for two or three-year period that corresponds to the period that Israelis do army service. Both the Ultra Orthodox and the Arabs have vociferously opposed the bill. Listening to a dialogue between supporters and opponents was enlightening. The Ultra Orthodox opposition was for the traditional reasons; they do not want their children to stray from the preferred path of Yeshiva study and starting families. The Arab representative, who was a Knesset Member, stated that this program was a method to decrease the ethnic identity of the Arab youth. His claim that anything that provided service within the framework of the government was against the self-interest of the sector. When pressed if there was anything he favored that would help bring the communities (Jewish and Arab) more together, he claimed there was, but could not name one program or idea. Keep in mind that the program Ayalon proposed is not compulsory, but purely voluntary.