Israel’s Right Turn

The Jerusalem Post reports that if a new election were held today, the right-wing parties would take control of the Israeli government:

A Ma'agar Mohot poll, broadcast on Channel 2 on Thursday evening found that if the election was held today, the Likud and Israel Beiteinu would each win 24 seats, Kadima would fall from 29 to 14, and Labor would fall from 19 to only 9.

Meanwhile, another poll, reported in the Guardian,  shows that a majority of Israelis want Olmert to go:

A poll in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper showed 63% want Mr Olmert to go. The defence minister, Amir Peretz, appears even more vulnerable with 74% calling for his resignation, while 54% want the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, to resign as well.

I predict that a new election will be called by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan stand-in David Weigel, pointing to that poll,  contrasts  the willingness of Israelis to criticize their government with  the U.S., where  Republicans  claim that criticism of  President Bush emboldens the enemy.  That comparison makes some sense  and I've personally never made the "don't criticize the president during wartime" argument because I know that if I disagreed with the president, I wouldn't want to be silent.  But a  crucial difference is  that Israel is a parliamentary system in which elections can be held at any time. So, by calling for Olmert to go, there's a better chance that  a new government will be put in place. And that's quite common. However, in the American form of government, barring an extraordinary set of circumstances, a president who gets elected is going to serve out a full four years. Only once has a president been forced to resign, and it had nothing to do with policy. So, by not just criticizing but villainizing the president, you're just weakening someone who, like it or not, is going to be in power through  the next election.

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