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Israeli campaign enters final day

On the eve of Israeli election day…

  • Ha’aretz provides a last-minute election primer for its readers. Former Likud Defense Minister Moshe Arens gives an overview of the electoral system and what it means to the voter. Hint: For a stable government, vote Likud or Labor, he counsels. Columnist Akiva Elder offers his guide to the perplexed for the leftist voter, describing Kadima, Meretz and Labor as center-left triplets. Columnist Bradley Burston offers his own Israel Election Guide and discusses how a coalition may ultimately shake out. Columnist Ze’ev Segal reminds readers about the importance of No. 2: Remember, Ehud Olmert’s ascension to the Prime Minister’s Office came on the heels of Ariel Sharon’s stroke. 
  • The New York Times anoints Avigdor Lieberman as Israel’s political "power broker" in a news feature on the controversial hard-liner.
  • A Jerusalem Post Op-Ed by Michael Marmur, dean of the school of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, says we have already lost the elections because: "Whoever wins, whichever party of government emerges, the face of Israel which has appeared in these last weeks has been ugly." In the same vein, an Arab-Israeli elementary school principal writes in Ynet that the Arab-Israeli leadership’s extremism led to his community’s anti-Israel radicalism, which has boosted Lieberman among Jewish voters.
  • Friday was the last day by law that Israeli newspapers could publish polls that predict how many seats each party may get. The final Ha’aretz-Dialog poll shows the gap between Kadima and Likud down to two seats, in Likud’s favor. Yisrael Beiteinu is at 18 seats, up from 15 last week. A Yediot Achronot poll also shows a two-seat split between Likud (25) and Kadima (23), with Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu (19) besting Labor (16). A Channel 10 poll also gave Kadima and Likud a two-vote split, with Likud at 27 seats, and found that twice as many lawmakers will recommend to President Shimon Peres that Netanyahu form the next government over those who back Livni. A poll released Sunday and reported in the Jerusalem Post says that more right-wing voters are undecided than voters on the left.
  • Lieberman has been a hot item not only in the Israeli media but also in the foreign media, from big networks like CNN and  BBC to local stations in Japan and Norway, Ynet reports. Also in Ynet, Op-Ed writer Hanoch Daum asks if Lieberman is really as terrible as he is being portrayed in the media. Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz discusses Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu in this IBA television interview
  • Kahane won, declares a disgusted Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy:

"Rabbi Meir Kahane can rest in peace: His doctrine has won. Twenty years after his Knesset list was disqualified and 18 years after he was murdered, Kahanism has become legitimate in public discourse. If there is something that typifies Israel’s current murky, hollow election campaign, which ends the day after tomorrow, it is the transformation of racism and nationalism into accepted values.

"If Kahane were alive and running for the 18th Knesset, not only would his list not be banned, it would win many votes, as Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to do. The prohibited has become permitted, the ostracized is now accepted, the detestable has become the talented — that’s the slippery slope down which Israeli society has skidded over the past two decades."

  • The L.A. Times must be trying to appeal to all its Israeli readers in the run-up to the elections with this feature on Avigdor Lieberman and this one on Tzipi Livni.
  • The Jerusalem Post’s Sunday editorial encourages voters to become familiar with their favorite party’s stands on domestic issues, such as law enforcement, education and dealing with the country’s severe water shortage.
  • "Just days before Election Day, Israelis have already made one decision: They don’t like the candidates," as evidenced by a 20 percent undecided rate, Shmuel Rosner writes in Slate.
  • Ha’aretz columnist Nehemia Shtrasler says he believes Bibi will act on his beliefs in the foreign policy and economic arenas, which he called "frightening and dangerous."
  • Al Arabiya offers its own take on Israel’s election.
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