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Israel: the political drama continues

For the third week in a row, domestic politics is the biggest story in Israel. The political landscape continues to change rapidly, with each day bringing a new and surprising development. However they feel about the politicians, the consensus seems to be that one thing is certain: these are interesting times.

This week one of the country's most prominent journalists, Shelly Yachimovich, quit her profession to enter politics when she joined the Labour Party. Shimon Peres, who has been a Labour member of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, since 1959, left his party and joined Ariel Sharon’s new Kadima party. Avi Shaked, a multi-millionaire businessman, has declared that he is really a socialist – albeit a millionaire socialist – and joined the Labour party. But that's not all…

As in previous weeks, the roundup of blog entries on political developments will be followed by links to a summary of noteworthy posts on a variety of subjects.

The “big bang” in domestic politics

Shai of Shaister begins his summary of who joined, who quit and who defected with this observation: “Whatever else you may say about this political “big bang” we’ve witnessed over the last two weeks, it has added a lot of interest into what had become an incredibly boring political system.” He goes on to describe the journalist Shelly Yachimovich as “a sour, hatchet-faced activist-journalist with distinct pinko leanings.” (tell us what you really think, Shai!)

Allison of An Unsealed Room writes about the comments Gigi Peres, Shimon Peres’s brother, made about the new Labour leader Amir Peretz’s Moroccan background. “…[Gigi] has sealed the deal and made Shimon an utter political untouchable by adding a little racism to the mix”.

Allison writes that she’s not alone in thinking that “it’s time for Peres to leave politics.”

Bert of Dutchblog Israel asks, “Could it be that I have underestimated Amir Peretz?… His election to the Labor party leadership has directly or indirectly brought about what appear to be very meaningful (and positive) changes in Israel's political landscape.”
Bert also provides some interesting commentary on the political slogans and platforms of several politicians – such as Shaul Mofaz and Silvan Shalom.

Imshin asks why Yachimovich was not criticized for being a “journalist with an agenda” when she decided to enter the political arena.

One Jerusalem posts a photo he took of Avi Shaked’s campaign billboard with the slogan: “Socialist, Millionaire (and not ashamed of it).” The blogger wonders which part Shaked is unashamed of – being a millionaire or being a socialist? One Jerusalem provides more information on how Shaked made his money in this post.

Playing soccer for peace

Anglosaxy and Dave of Israellycool are both interested in a soccer match that was played this week between a Palestinian-Israeli team and the Barcelona team. The game was sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace.

Dave posts and links to an article from the Palestinian press that quotes Palestinian officials who opposed the match because it gives “a false impression that things are alright between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Anglosaxy, who is a huge sports fan, thinks that the idea of a soccer game for peace is “fecking magnificent.” He is particularly chuffed that Ronaldinho is one of the players, and posts a video link to one of the star athlete’s famous “crossbar clips.”

An exchange of views on a controversial political issue

An interesting exchange of differing political views took place between two Orthodox Israeli bloggers. Chayyeisarah takes issue with the right-wing argument against withdrawing from occupied teritory, and Jeffrey R. Woolf of My Obiter Dicta explains why he disagrees with her.

Miscellaneous – political (voices from the Right)

Ze’ev of Israel Perspectives explains why some people might call him an extremist.

Jameel” of The Muqata criticizes Haaretz newspaper for slanted or selective coverage of incidents involving Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Yaakov Kirshon, the Dry Bones political cartoonist, wonders why an Indian security fence built on the border with Bangladesh has not attracted the same attention as Israel’s separation barrier.

Miscellaneous – non political

Brian Blum writes about attending a modern dance performance in Jerusalem. To his surprise and initial discomfort, the dancers performed in the nude. But Brian enjoys the performance, and sees it as evidence that , despite its growing Orthodox population, Jerusalem is still a culturally open city.

Savtadotty posts photos and a description of some fantastic urban installation art. (the photos are on her Flickr account ). To mark 70 years since its founding, the Tel Aviv stock exchange commissioned dozens of fiberglass bulls, each decorated by a different artist to express various themes. The bulls have been placed up and down Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, and are attracting viewers from all over Israel.

One Jerusalem has some lovely photos and a description of Pqiin, a village in the Galilee where Druze, Muslims and Jews live together in harmony.

And Yael of Olehgirl has an amusing post about Israeli taxi drivers. She has discovered that they tend to get a little too personal with their female passengers.

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