UK media portray a 'divided nation' voting

Low-key coverage puts spotlight on the apparent swing to the right by the Israeli electorate.

newspaper 88 (photo credit: )
newspaper 88
(photo credit: )
As Israelis went to the polls Tuesday, the British media's coverage was low-key and put the spotlight on the apparent swing to the right by the Israeli electorate. Although the Independent has covered the lead up to the election, Tuesday's print version has no coverage at all, choosing instead to focus on the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. However in an online piece entitled "Down in the souk, a divided nation argues as Israel prepares to vote," the newspaper's Jerusalem correspondent, Donald Macintyre, put forward the question, "Bibi or Livni; Israelis must choose between aggression and the olive branch." Macintyre interviewed stall owners in the capital's Mahane Yehuda market and quoted supporters of Avigdor Lieberman, including one who said removing the settlements in Gaza was a "mistake," as well as store owners who vote for Likud and Kadima to make his case that Israel is divided. "In 10 years, Europe will be completely Muslim. But we should have gone on [in Gaza] till the end. Now they want a cease-fire and in six months they will be back with their missiles and we'll have to fight again. When you're weak with the Arabs, they see it as a way to take advantage of you," 48-year-old dried fruit seller Itzik Shimon told the Independent why he was voting for Lieberman. In an article looking at the campaign clips of Lieberman, Balad and the Green Leaf Party, The Guardian also said the elections represent a choice between the "bad" [Livni] and "terrible" [Netanyahu]. The paper's online edition had as a main feature a report from Gaza in which it interviewed a family living in a tent after their home was destroyed during Operation Cast Lead. The Times predicted a Netanyahu victory and, calling Lieberman a "far-right firebrand," said he was in a strong position to be part of a coalition, while the Daily Telegraph looked at demographics stating that whoever wins the election will face one unavoidable reality - that Israel will soon have more Arabs than Jews. Calling for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the article asks, "If Israel keeps all this territory, the country will face a terrible dilemma. Will it be a Jewish state, or a democracy? Once the Arabs form the majority, Israel could not be both."