Editor’s Wrapup:: And the Answer Is…
It’s said that Jews tend to answer a question with another question—perhaps the best strategy in a world always short of answers.
Now we seem to be in the middle of a winter of questions. Back in November, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon formed a new centrist party and called for elections, there was, at least, a growing sense of stability in the region. But on the heels of Sharon’s stroke came the solid victory for Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.
The questions abound. Will a Hamas with a share of power in the Palestinian Authority increase terror or will the burden of governing prompt Hamas to moderate its declared aim of destroying Israel? Will Kadima, the party Sharon launched, maintain its apparent electoral appeal with Ehud Olmert at the helm or will the Hamas victory prompt Israelis to move to the right?
In this issue, our writers attempt to address two small pieces of the larger puzzle that will fall into place on March 28, when Israelis go to the polls. Rochelle Furstenberg looks at the emergence of Kadima not only as a creation of one popular leader but as a culmination of political forces in Israel that have been looking for direction. According to Furstenberg, polls show that “in the spectrum of Israel’s multiparty government from right to left, the majority of Israelis claim the center.” Her report begins on page 8.
Gershom Gorenberg looks at Israeli settlements as a political issue (page 12). The question underlying this month’s election, he writes, is no longer whether to give up territory, but “how much land to give up and which party will manage the process best. The challenge is minimizing the number of Palestinians under Israeli rule while keeping down the number of settlers who will have to move.”
Even Israel’s election, of course, won’t provide all the answers. Maybe the best hope is in that Jewish tendency—that each question is progressively sharper and more insightful than the last.