Thursday, January 24, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume V, Issue VI

What We Learn From the Knesset

The 'other' weekly news magazine this week features The Art of Darkness [click to read]. The article centers on the controversy surrounding the movie: Zero Dark Thirty and director Kathryn Bigelow. We at THYME would like to explore another art... that of leadership. Binyamin Netanyahu just won an important election in Israel. Now he must forge a governing coalition.

Unlike the United States, where two parties pretty much dominate the political system, Israel has about seventeen different parties [1.] actively holding seats in the Knesset. There are 120 seats in the representative body and Netanyahu's Likud party held less than thirty after the 2009 elections. Other parties represented in the Knesset include Arab interests, Conservative interests, Liberal interests and a variety of others. Thus, in order to govern, these interests must come together to form a governing coalition.

In the 2009 election, Likud actually finished second, but Binyamin Netanyahu was able to elicit support from several major parties to build such a coalition. In a system such as Israel's bipartisan cooperation isn't just a lofty unattainable ideal, it is the rule of the road. In the Knesset, you cannot tell an Eric Cantor to "sit down, I won." You need to reason with the leaders of the four larger parties and it doesn't hurt to seek common ground with smaller groups in the chamber.

Though popular media regularly malign Israel, the reality is that the Middle-East's most representative government thrives there. The BBC presents a very interesting Guide to Israel's Political Parties [click to read]. There is a lesson for America here. Rather than dismiss the Tea Party Movement, for example, might we look to it as a step toward a more representative Congress? Might the emergence of a robust diversity of voices actually move us toward the spirit of cooperation so many of us profess to desiring?

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