By Harris Blum, for the Mitzpeh, @Harris_Blum

J Street event with Guy Ziv
Students at this university gather to hear Professor Guy Ziv talk about the recent Israeli election results. Photo courtesy of J Street U

Students and faculty interested in Israeli politics heard Guy Ziv, a foreign policy professor at American University and this university, discuss the results of the Israeli elections and their implications for American diplomacy with Israel on March 30 in Tydings Hall.

This university’s chapter of J Street U organized the event to invite students to voice their opinions on the results of the election.

Ziv, author of “Why Hawks Become Doves,” a 2014 book about former Israeli President Shimon Peres and the foreign policy change in Israel, situates himself on the center-left part of the political spectrum and is interested in foreign policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ziv said Netanyahu and the Likud party won the elections because many Israelis chose to reelect the current leader.

“The average [Israeli citizen] chooses to stick with the status quo,” Ziv said. “The Zionist Camp did not offer clear policy alternatives to Likud, which in turn made their political party less compelling.”

Ziv said the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the largest issue in Israel right now and that the socioeconomic status of the country was a deciding factor for a majority of citizens.

“I fully support this [upcoming] government because it creates a strong center-left presence in the opposition,” Ziv said. “Netanyahu’s coalition will most likely consist of right-wing religious parties, and negotiations with Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu will contribute economic support to the government.”

Netanyahu has until May 7 to present his coalition to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, with the option to extend talks for two weeks if necessary.

While Ziv is content with the results, he said the Israeli population is not.

“Today, the updated Pew Institute polls show that Netanyahu’s approval rating has plummeted to 31 percent in the last few weeks,”  Ziv said. “More citizens are starting to dislike Netanyahu.”

Co-president of J Street U at University of Maryland Liat Deener-Chodirker said she was unhappy with the outcome of the elections, but said there is movement in the right direction.

“As a result of the elections, being pro-Israel no longer means you have to be pro-Netanyahu,” the sophomore American studies major said. “How extreme his statements were made it easier, in my opinion, for American Jews to strongly say that Netanyahu does not speak for them and that he is not the best for Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

On the contrary, Gefen Kabik, president of this university’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel said the results present the Israeli citizens’ true views of Netanyahu.

“The elections show that [Netanyahu] is the only leader that Israelis trust with their security,” the freshman government and politics major said.

Assistant Director of Maryland Hillel Maiya Chard-Yaron would not comment on the elections’ results, but she enjoyed seeing students attend this event.

“I was thrilled when I heard about this event,” Chard-Yaron said. “I love seeing students come and discuss their views just two weeks after the elections.”


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