How the Right Snatched Defeat from the Jaws of Victory on Ulpana (JEWISH PRESS) By: Stephen Leavitt 06/07/12)
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Watching the Givat Ulpana fiasco was like watching a train wreck
about to happen. While the defeat in the Knesset today might still
have happened in an alternate history, it definitely did not need to
be the crushing defeat that we witnessed today.
On Wednesday, ahead of the Knesset vote, I visited the Ulpana Hunger
Strikers outside the Knesset.
When Palestinians go on hunger strikes, you will never see bottles of
drinks around them, not water, not juice, even if many of them are
actually eating on the sly.
Sometimes, for the camera, youíll see someone handing a Palestinian a
small cup of water with a straw to sip from as heís lying down in
You know these hunger strikers are serious because thatís what you
see on TV.
But in the Ulpana tent, I saw something else entirely.
Large bottles of juice were sitting next to each striker while they
were industriously typing away on their laptops as reporters filmed
them. No one looked exhausted, no one looked tired, and, certainly,
no one looked hungry.
One reporter even asked them to take the drinks off the table while
she took some photos. They actually argued with her about it.
One can only hope theyíll be able to take off the weight theyíve
gained from all that sugar water.
Can you be any less media savvy than that?
Unfortunately, you can, as the National Union party proved in their
press conference just hours later.
In the Knesset conference room sat some of the National Union MKs
(rumor has it that two of them havenít talked to one another in
months), along with some Likud MKs who defied their party head, the
Prime Minister, to be there.
My jaw dropped when some of the National Union MKs began disparaging
the entire Likud Ė as their Likud allies were sitting right next to
And thatís when the fighting began Ė while the cameras were rolling.
MK Michael Ben-Ari and MK Tzipi Hotoveli began to fight, Ben-Ari
attacking the Likud and Hotoveli defending her party. And itís not
that Ben-Ari said anything technically incorrect, or that Hoteveliís
arguments held water (audience members even corrected some of her
more obvious mistakes).
The whole thing was just terribly inappropriate.
It finally reached a point where Hotoveli got up and walked out,
right in the middle of the press conference Ė but, to her credit,
announced that she would still vote for the bill Ė despite what had
Is this how the Right expects to win and keep allies? By spitting in
their faces? By acting like children in front of reporters? By not
showing even a little savvy?
If only it were just a matter of being unschooled in media issues.
Unfortunately, itís worse.
Two weeks ago, the National Union was prepared to bring their bill to
save the Ulpana neighborhood to a vote. Back then, with most Right
wing MKs making statements about saving the houses, it had a chance
But Netanyahu fooled them. He asked them to hold off for two weeks,
to give him a chance to find a solution to the problem that would not
catch the High Courtís ire. If he failed, they could go ahead with
Except Netanyahu wasnít looking for a solution to save Givat Ulpana
during those two weeks. He needed time to find a way to defeat the
But the National Union, in their honesty and good faith, and naivete,
if you ask me, gave Netanyahu the two weeks he needed to line up his
troops and kill their bill.
Time and again, we see Israeli Right-wing politicians and activists
playing touch football in a tackle game, and time and again they walk
away with bloody noses, if not worse.
To save Givat Ulpana we need a quarterback and receivers and tackles
willing to do whatever it takes to get the ball into the other teamís
The majority of the Jews in Israel are behind us, the majority of the
Knesset members essentially agree with us ó itís our game to lose.
So stop playing like youíre still in Little League! (© 2012
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