The Iron Dome

The Iron Dome defense system has proven to be an effective tool in preventing the loss of human life in Israel. I think understanding what Iron Dome is, how it works, U.S. involvement, and the impact it has had on the current aerial conflict between the Gaza strip and Israel is essential to understanding the […]

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Females Representin’

Female representation in Senate has continued to grow and has reached record numbers. The 113th Congress that convenes in January will have 20 female senators and at least 81 female representatives. Additionally, New Hampshire will be sending an all female delegation to Congress, the first state to accomplish this in the United States. Also the South […]

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Bedouin People; Minority of a Minority

The Bedouin population is the minority of the Arab minority in Israel today and their history, culture and issues they’re facing today are largely unknown to many Americans. Traditionally, Bedouin people have lived a pastoral semi nomadic lifestyle in the Negev divided into clans or tribes. Although Bedouins are seen as the purest representatives of Arab culture, they live by their own distinct culture, honor code and code of laws. Bedouins have recorded their history and passed on their traditions through oral poetic sharing because illiteracy was the norm for this population. The Bedouin society has survived in large part because of the extensive network built on kinship.

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Today in Israel the administration is planning a widespread relocation of the Bedouin people into government planned townships. The Israeli government believes his move will address the Bedouin issue of extreme poverty. According to pending legislation the 35 Bedouin communities in the Negev unrecognized by the Israeli government will be evacuated and all inhabitants compensated to move to the planned townships.

However, many Bedouin people see his move as a forced push from their lands. The Bedouin identity is tied to the desert that generations have traveled and survived in. The Bedouin population has thrived on farming and raising pastoral animals such as sheep. The issue remains in the allocation of land. As grazing land has diminished so has the source of income for many Bedouin people.   

From an outside perspective it seems the Israeli government has perpetuated the situation of the Bedouin population by refusing to recognize 35 of their 46 communities and therefore denying tens of thousands rights to an education, healthcare, running water and electricity. Instead of giving these people the dignity of paving their own future, the Israeli government has taken the liberty of building “planned townships” and leaving the Bedouin people without the ability to make the choice of where they will live their lives. It is difficult to determine the true intentions and motivations of such decisions, I’m sure it is a mixed variety, but I think the question to focus on is will this move benefit a suffering population? Will the Bedouin people receive opportunities not available to them before? The Bedouin culture has already undergone dramatic changes with the establishment of Israel and the rapid progression of globalization. As Israel pushes to modernize this population through urbanization, question whether this transition will be successful. The cultural and historical identities of the Bedouin people should be involved in the solution.  

Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/may/09/bedouin-land-culture-israel-resettlement

http://www.knesset.gov.il/lexicon/eng/bedouim_eng.htm

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A Future for The Knesset

The electoral system in Israel is based on proportional representation, which means the number of seats a party holds in the Knesset is equivalent to the number of votes that party received. The only requirement is that the party meets a 2% threshold. This electoral system was implemented by the yeshiva, the organized Jewish community before the founding of Israel. The electoral system is based upon the principles that the Knesset is elected in general, country-wide, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections.

The Knesset elections are scheduled to take place every four years. Although, the Knesset majority can decide to dissolve itself and call for early elections and the Prime Minister can recommend early elections to the President which has to be approved by the Knesset. Voters do not choose individuals to vote for, instead they vote for a list of candidates. The candidates on the list are elected in order of which they appear on the list, so if the party wins five seats, the first five individuals on the list earn the seat.

There are advantages to the Israeli model of an electoral system, like minority representation is ensured, coalitions of parties encourage compromise, and governments are forced to take into account national sentiments. However, disadvantages exist for the same reasons, proportional representation can lead to small parties gaining more power, and coalitions can produce confused policies and government inaction. Also, if unpopular policies are enacted under the Knesset the chances of a no confidence vote being taken that votes their members out of office increases.

“The Knesset” Jerusalem, Israel.

The question of how to improve the Israeli electoral system has been a constant source of debate in recent discussions. A question that inspires complexity and frustrations, a feeling many Americans can relate too. Today the United States is widely accepted as a two party system because historically it has been very rare for a third party candidate to win the election. However, the United States had no official political parties when the constitution was written. Only ten years after the constitution was enacted did two major political parties emerged. Currently the Democratic and Republican parties dominate voting in nearly all elections and typically one of the two parties wins the majority of votes in legislature. Additionally, other political parties exist such as the green party, independent party, and the reform party, etc.

Increasing polarization of our nation due to the two party system has lead to a considerable amount of difficulty in accomplishing changes in a four year period. Leaving many Americans asking the same question, how do we improve a weak system? In conclusion, it seems there is no perfect structure of elections, or government for that matter; which does not mean we shouldn’t constantly be striving to improve and to be better for our countries and our world.

Sources: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/israel/Contemporary_Life/Politics/Electoral_System/Pros_and_Cons_of_the_System.shtml

http://www.uen.org/themepark/liberty/electoralprocess.shtml

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Palestinians without a Palestine

Palestinian refugees have been occupying parts of Lebanon for decades and not without consequence for the Palestinian and Lebanese populations. In 1948 Palestinians who called the northern areas of Israel home were under attack and threatened by ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Israeli military. These people fled to nearby countries and roughly 100,000 […]

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