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Arab Party as Kingmaker? 

Mansour Abbas’s Islamist party, which won four seats in the pre-Pesach elections, could hand victory to Bibi or to his opponents
The Backstory

“The Left makes war,” goes an Israeli saying, “and the Right makes peace.” It’s an ironic fact that under the Likud party, the country evacuated Sinai, Gaza, and Chevron, whereas under the peaceniks of Labor (back in the day), the country fought major wars.

The saying is misleading in that the modern Left gave Israel the Oslo Accords, but it contains an element of truth. The Right’s perceived toughness gives it the political cover to pull off concessions to the Palestinians that the Left couldn’t afford.

That dynamic may explain the drama now gripping Israel, as Ra’am, an Arab party, has been transformed into a kingmaker. Mansour Abbas’s Islamist party, which won four seats in the pre-Pesach elections, could hand victory to Bibi or to his opponents. But whichever way things go, this marks a revolution. No Arab party has ever exercised so much influence in Israeli politics, nor has any Arab politician ever spoken so clearly of the need to integrate into the country’s politics to work for its constituents.

The fact that this didn’t happen a year ago, when the center-left Blue-White Party tried to pull off the same thing with the United Arab List, was down to two right-wing lawmakers — Zvika Hauser and Yoaz Hendel — who refused to support such a move.

If this is another case of the Left’s Achilles heel, it could prove costly in the long term. Because if the Likud has broken the Arab taboo, the way might be open for a long-term Arab-Left alliance to remake Israeli politics.

No Choke

For devotees of current-affairs-themed divrei Torah or Jewish Twitter memes, the recent blockage of the Suez Canal generated lots of Pesach merriment.

Shipping companies, on the other hand, weren’t so amused. While hundreds of ships idled, world trade took a $10 billion daily hit, and Egypt planned a $1 billion claim for damages from the owners of the monster-sized cork that had bottled up the canal.

In the meantime, we all learned a new word: chokepoint.

The price of gas at the pump, or of food in the supermarket, depends on a select list of these maritime bottlenecks remaining unbottled. The Bab el-Mandeb Strait separating Iranian-controlled Yemen from the Horn of Africa is one such; the Straits of Malacca — a Chinese lifeline — is another.

So while the Japanese owners of the Ever Given container ship were delivered by their own splitting of the waters, the world has been put on notice.

If Iran decides to tweak America’s nose, or India wishes to teach China a lesson, a few well-placed sea mines will remind consumers everywhere that Pesach memes aside, geopolitics is no choke.

$2.5 trillion

The scale of President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan, an enormous wad of cash supposedly aimed at sprucing up the United States’ creaky infrastructure (among other things), brings to mind the pithy words attributed to Everett Dirksen, a former Illinois senator.

“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money,” said the man whose long, florid speeches gained him the moniker “Wizard of Ooze.”

In many ways very low-key, the Biden administration is now racking up the trillions in government spending with something approaching glee. But with the GOP now only slightly less eager to buy now and pay later, the US government may eventually have to invest in a new piece of hardware: a bigger debt clock to display all the trillions.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 855)

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