Saturday, September 22, 2012

King Bibi in the political casino

On the front page of Ma'ariv's weekend magazine appears the headline from a commentary by Ofer Shelah:  “A dangerous gamble" - followed by  a quote “Netanyahu features in the broadcasts of the Mitt Romney campaign, and the Republican candidate anti- Palestinian utterings seem to be direct quotations from Israel's PM. Netanyahu has put all his chips on Romney – but who will pay the bill if Obama is re-elected?"

The Ma'ariv newspaper, a pillar of the Israeli press throughout the county's entire history, is at this moment itself in grave danger. Its fate and that of its two thousand employees hangs in the balance. Ma'ariv - and other newspapers and media outlets in Israel –suffer from  the unfair competition by "Israel Today". Copies of "Israel Today" are spread in huge quantities in the streets and at the entrances to public institutions. Unlike other papers, readers do not have to pay for it. And this newspaper also offers incredibly cheap advertisements, at prices with which no other paper could possibly compete.

So, how can "Israel Today" make a profit under such conditions? It does not. "Israel Today" suffers huge losses every month, but it has an owner with very wide pocket,
ever ready and willing to cover the losses. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who gets very lucrative profits from running casinos in China and the United States, can afford this expenditure. Not by coincidence, "Israel Today" consistently and bluntly supports Binyamin Netanyahu and the policies of his government, while casualties of its wildcat competition are newspapers taking a more critical stance towards the Prime Minister. And also not by coincidence, Sheldon Adelson is also a major supporter and prime funder in the election campaign of Mitt Romney, the Republican Presidential candidate in the United States.

In yesterday's issue of Ma'ariv also appeared a commentary by Ben Kaspit, which might be one of his lasts: “This week Obama gained a decisive advantage in the polls, and in the Electoral College which actually elects the President his situation is even better. It seems that only a miracle can save Romney and the people who have staked the fortunes upon his. It is for such a miracle that Netanyahu and Adelson are now fervently praying. (...)  Based on the assumption that the miracle does not happen and that Romney is sent despondently home on 7 November, the PM's men understand perfectly well what they can expect from the White House during Obama's second term: the immensity of the disgust which the President now feels for Prime Minister of Israel and all that the PM stands for;  that the effort of rebuilding relations which awaits them is virtually hopeless. This is very bad news for the Right-wing, for the settlers, for everyone who tied their fate to the one who tied his own fate to Mitt Romney.”

Caspit – not  staunch leftist - speculates that Obama's second term would start with “another settlement freeze and a resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians (assuming that Abbas survives until then)."

So, perhaps something would happen, after all? Perhaps, it would still happen after all the disappointments and frustrations and bloodshed, despite the ever increasing desperation and cynicism? Maybe the phrase "Middle East Peace Process" would still cease to be a sad and pathetic joke. Maybe a president elected for the second time, having no longer electoral constraints in settling  outstanding accounts with the Prime Minister of Israel, would at long last devote to this issue a significant part of the enormous power at the disposal of the President of the United States of America? Perhaps it would still happen that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories would not reach its fiftieth anniversary in 2017, but get its long overdue passing away  during the second term of Barack Hussein Obama?

So, would we after all have reason to a sleepless night on November 6?