Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Amotz Asa-El

Tonight I saw an interesting talk by Jerusalem Post Executive Editor and columnist Amotz Asa-El, sponsored by the Middle East Studies Program and a bunch of groups affiliated with the Hillel Foundation. It was an interesting talk even though I think I'm well to his left on most issues facing Israel. The point he made which drew the most discussion was that there was a new consensus in Israeli politics around the ideas of disengagement put forward by Ariel Sharon. I was most struck by the idea that Israeli politics is entering a "post-heroic age" in which the Prime Ministers won't come from the ranks of military heroes and domestic politics will gradually rise to the forefront of people's minds.

I did get the chance to ask him about Sarah's point that conflict between Gaza evacuees and the government would turn people against future withdrawals. He felt that this was getting a lot of attention in Israel and that Kadima was about to see it drag down their poll numbers as it reached critical mass. It'll be interesting to see if he's right, as that definitely goes against the sense I have from my perch on the other side of the world. He also said in response to a couple of questions that ethnicity has little or no impact on contemporary Israeli politics, and that the intermarriage rate has gotten so high that the words "Ashkenazim" and "Sephardim" are losing their relevance, and many kids don't even know what they mean.


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