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In today's pages: Israeli elections, the new TARP and the octuplets

February 11, 2009 | 12:42 pm

Israel, Palestinians, Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman, loyalty oath, Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu, Tim Rutten, Bellflower octuplets, Nadya Suleman, fertility treatments, Iran, Mohammad Khatami, TARP, troubled assets, Timothy Geithner, digital TV transition, analog cutoff, FCC, Jonathan Adelstein The elections in Israel dominate today's Opinion pages, with two Op-Eds and an editorial devoted at least in part to the leading players. Analyst M.J. Rosenberg and Israeli politician Danny Ayalon go head to head on the subject of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the conservative Yisrael Beiteinu party. The YB's claim to fame is demanding that Arabs in the country sign a loyalty oath to Israel to gain the benefits of citizenship. Rosenberg argues that the oath fueled Lieberman's rise to power, and that's a scary prospect:

His voters apparently like his promise to treat Arab members of the Knesset as "collaborators" who should be dealt with like collaborators with the Nazis. They like his pledge to create "separation of the two nations and the creation of homogenous states." They agree that "the biggest problem of the 21st century is how to deal with minorities. Every country where you have two languages, two religions and two races, you have conflict."

Ayalon, a YB member newly elected to the Knesset, counters that Lieberman is popular because "he tells it like it is" about the peace process:

That appeals to Israelis after years of sweet talk about concessions for peace that have yielded nothing but more loss of life on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Not that Lieberman or the electorate has given up on peace. They hope that a more right-wing government will succeed where the left has failed.

Over on the editorial page, the Times' editorial board notes that Israel and Iran may both return to power the leaders they had a decade ago -- a more welcome event in the latter than the former....

The board also expressed concerns about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's plan for modifying the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, saying he offered too few details on some of the most important elements. And it urged community groups to start reaching out now to help people prepare for the analog TV cutoff, regardless of the four-month delay approved by Congress.

Finally, columnist Tim Rutten revisits the well-visited subject of the Bellflower octuplets, arguing that mother Nadya Suleman hasn't really told the truth about her motivation:

When the Nadya Sulemans of the world say, as she has in interviews, that they undergo these extreme, invasive, unpleasant, uncertain and expensive medical procedures because they "want children," that isn't really the case. If what people want is children -- and the incomparable experience of parenthood -- there are tens of thousands of children in our country and perhaps millions more abroad waiting for adoption. Thousands of others in our country are waiting for foster care.

Photo: Avigdor Lieberman. Credit: Yehuda Raizner/AFP/Getty Images

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