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Jewish World Review
Jan. 10, 2006
/ 10 Teves, 5766
On Israel's horizon
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Most everyone is observing a respectful period of concern and national
prayer, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's crippling stroke has turned the
Israeli political scene into a desperate behind-the-scene battle for power.
The brutal truth: For the moment there is no one who can easily slip into
the leadership shoes left empty by this charismatic warrior/statesman.
Who are the chief candidates to succeed Sharon?
EHUD OLMERT: Shrewd, tough and personally disliked by many
Israelis, 60-year old Olmert is respected nonetheless for his political
acumen. He also has two strong psychological and political advantages.
The onetime mayor of Jerusalem is Sharon's handpicked acting prime
minister, and if Israel's next elections take place as scheduled in March,
he will be the incumbent when voters go to the polls.
Olmert has also been one of Sharon's closest political associates in recent
years serving as chief balloon floater for some of Sharon's most
revolutionary ideas, most specifically the daring plan to unilaterally
withdraw Israeli forces and settlers from Gaza and parts of the West
Bank. A lawyer and a fluent English-speaker, this reformed super hawk
now has the task of convincing Israeli voters that with him as its leader,
the recently born Kadima Party has a future and a meaningful platform of
peace and security.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Though recent polls still show Kadima
and Olmert in the lead, some analysts believe that 57-year-old
Netanyahu, the American-educated former Israeli premier, ultimately has
the inside track on forming a new government. Netanyahu, who was in
heated internal battle with Sharon and Olmert even before they bolted
from the right-wing Likud bloc, now heads Likud with its deep roots,
tough ideology and efficient party machine something Kadima has yet to
And while his 1996-1999 premiership was not noted for its great
successes, his term as minister of finance was - and Israel's economic
future weighs heavily on the mind of its voters.
AMIR PERETZ: This 53-year-old son of poor Moroccan immigrants
brings a deep understanding of Israel's growing underclass to his new job
as head of Israel's Labor Party. But Peretz, a former vegetable farmer,
has had little formal education and lacks both the diplomatic polish and
security experience that any Israeli statesman requires. A militant
socialist, he has also already managed to alienate the party's two most
important figures: former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres,
whom he unseated as Labor's leader and who like several other leading
Labor figures recently announced his support for Sharon's new Kadima
Party. Peretz will try to woo them back, but most likely without success.
If none of the aforementioned succeeds to win the electoral support
needed to replace Sharon, there are others within the vibrant Israeli
democracy who may come to the fore. Among them: Sharon's Minister
of Justice Tzipi Livni or his Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. Both enjoy
large public followings. And there is a dark horse that I would carefully
watch: Dan Meridor, the highly respected 59-year-old Likud leader
who dropped out of politics some years back but may yet be lured back.
As we learned after the tragic murder of Yitzhak Rabin a decade ago,
even monumental leaders have successors.
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The Arrogance of the French
This book will open your eyes!
Why do the French hate America? Richard Chesnoff has figured it out and informs us with entertaining clarity.
France sucks, but this book doesn't.
Michael Barone, Co-author, The Almanac of American Politics
Americans-and the French-will learn a lot from this book.
Clifford D. May, President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Richard Z. Chesnoff insightfully-and entertainingly-explores America's most dysfunctional relationship with America's least reliable ally.
Sales help fund JWR.
JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a contributing correspondent at US News & World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. A two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, is "The Arrogance of the French: Why They Can't Stand Us & Why The Feeling Is Mutual". (Click on cover above to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )
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© 2005, Richard Z. Chesnoff
Richard Z. Chesnoff
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Victor Davis Hanson
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