An Israeli’s view of the elections
“Let the haters hate. Am Yisrael Chai!”
In case you missed the latest news, the final results of the Israeli elections are in, and here are the numbers:
Likud (Netanyahu): 30
Zionist Union (Yitzchak Herzog): 24
Joint Arab List: 13
Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid): 11
Kulanu (Moshe Kachlon): 10
Bayit Yehudi (Naftali Bennett): 8
Shas (Sephardi haredim): 7
Yisrael Beitenu (Avigdor Liberman): 6
United Torah Judaism (Ashkenazi Haredim): 6
I’m sure many of you have been wondering what the average Israeli thinks of the general elections and the Likud’s surprising win. The answer will depend on whom you ask.
As an avowed rightist I was both delighted and highly relieved at the result, though as a Naftali Bennett and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) voter, I admit to some disappointment that the party lost several seats, going down from 12 to 8.
It has been suggested that many Bayit Yehudi voters “sacrificed” their party to save the Likud on the basis that if Likud loses, Bayit Yehudi will be out for sure, whereas if the Likud manages to hold on to power, Bayit Yehudi will be taken into the coalition.
And indeed, despite its less than brilliant showing, and the sometimes bitter personal relationship between Netanyahu and Bennett, the gamble paid off as Bayit Yehudi was amongst the first parties approached by Netanyahu to enter the coalition (as opposed to the 2013 elections when Bayit Yehudi was left out in the cold until the very last minute).
Returning to the election campaign for a moment, it is widely agreed that it was a dirty, vicious campaign with ad hominem attacks, particularly from the Left, and not much debate on the very real issues themselves: security, Iran, the Palestinians, the economy, the high cost of living, gaps between rich and poor and between the big cities and the “periphery”, i.e. the border towns and development towns.
The impression I have received, from my own discussions with my family and friends and from a variety of media articles, is that the negative campaigning rebounded on the Left.
Being anti-something is never enough. One must give some idea of what your solutions are to these apparent problems. In addition, the intensely anti-Bibi campaign terrified the Right and mobilised them en masse to go out and vote. In fact it’s possible that the Left’s campaign did more to bring in Right-wing votes than all the right-wing volunteer workers combined.
I will quote from an article on Harry’s Place (a center-left site) by Marc Goldberg, like me an expat Brit now living in Israel, though of opposing political views. I certainly don’t agree with most of what he says about Netanyahu, but his views on the negative campaign pretty much sums up what happened:
Short of some mumbling about heading a committee to solve the problem of spiralling house prices very little of substance came from Herzog at all. Furthermore he seemed to be afraid to state left wing positions and pandered slightly to the right only to find himself out manoeuvred by Bibi from the even further right. This happened at the very start of the campaign when we saw Herzog and Livni awkwardly declaring something nice sounding about Jerusalem only for Bibi to call them out on it the next day.
And really this serves to demonstrate the fact that Herzog never quite figured out the right things to say or do at any given moment. He seemed to stick to attacking Bibi over and over again. Funny thing about that is the more he mentioned Bibi’s name the more he enhanced him as a leader.
Not all on the Left were as polite as Marc Goldberg. Ynet, that bastion of Israeli left-winginess, accused Netanyahu of lying and fear-mongering to garner his win.
He did it by using lies, throwing false accusations at his rivals, lashing out at the media and inciting. On the way to this victory, he didn’t stop at anything, including burning all the bridges to US President Barack Obama, confronting almost every possible sector, including his comment Tuesday against the Arab public, which was nothing short of a disgrace, and renouncing the promise he made in the previous election of two states for two people.
Ynet has nothing on Haaretz however, who are so extreme left that they almost turn themselves inside-out in their zeal to demonize anything that smacks of Israeli or Jewish nationalism. They reported on Bibi’s election win as nothing short of a disaster for Israel, and also accused him of race-baiting in his drive to the winning post.
What the left fail to understand is that Netanyahu was not saying that Arabs should not vote, or that their vote should not be counted.
On the contrary. He was worried that their massive voter turnout would tip the scales in favour of the left, and so he called on his supporters not to be complacent, but to come out and vote before it’s too late. I’m sure Haaretz would not take kindly to being called race-baiters for objecting to massive ultra-Orthodox voting, for example. It’s a two-way street, something they find hard to accept.
Of course the right-wing, and the center too, were overjoyed and hugely relieved at Likud’s victory. The sighs of relief were almost palpable. I’m an optimist at heart, but on Tuesday I was filled with a sense of foreboding, and tried to distract myself with Passover cleaning (in my defense, I was desperate!) and playing with my grandchildren so as not to focus on the ominous forecasts. In the end this dejection made the final victory that much more delicious.
I started to feel a glimmer of hope shortly before the polls closed, when early exit polls showed a dead heat between the two main parties, something which was widely accepted by all opinion-makers as an advantage to Bibi, since he had the greater chance of creating a coalition under those circumstances. And then the polls closed and the numbers started to be announced…
Arlene Kushner, an American Israeli journalist, describes these emotions perfectly in her article “With Gratitude and Gladness:
The Israeli election campaign just ended has been one hell of a dismal and ominous ride. I knew that well enough, but it was only when near-final results were released, and I began to cry, that I realized how very frightened I had been. For this nation that I love, and for the free world.
And so I am grateful. First to the Almighty. And then to the people of Israel, who saw their way past the nonsense, and saved the day.
Kushner addresses the viciousness of the election campaign and the barely legal interference of foreign elements (including possibly the State Department) on behalf of the Zionist Union party. And then the essence of the whole post:
What is most important is that the world see that a right-leaning nationalist government is where the Israeli electorate stands. This does not make us radicals, even though a left-leaning media will paint us so. A democratic election was held and the people have spoken. We will, we must, move on from here.
Interestingly, an article by Uri Heitner on the very right-wing, Netanyahu-supporting Israel Hayom, calls for some introspection on the right, despite their victory, saying that we need to heal the rifts in Israeli society:
The socio-economic record of the outgoing government — very troubling poverty rates, a high cost of living and staggering housing prices — should have paved the way for an upset. But the Zionist Union failed to articulate an appealing foreign policy. Its conduct was deplorable.
First, it chose to stay on the sidelines while Netanyahu actively took on the emerging deal with Iran — a deal that could cement Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state and grant it full legitimacy. Second, it torpedoed the Jewish state bill, casting it as racist and nationalist rather than as the expression of core Zionist principles championed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion; it turned its back on its own values. If Labor wants to regain power it must first return to its former old self; it must embrace its values and vision.
Netanyahu should also do some soul-searching. He may be tempted to rest on his laurels for having defied the polls and successfully swinging the pendulum in his direction. But he must not bask in the glory of his electoral success, despite his magician-like performance. When the state comptroller issued a damning housing report several weeks ago, he appeared out of touch, taking to social media to warn Israelis that the threat posed by Iran on “life itself” should concern them more than the cost of living. Netanyahu may not champion social justice, solidarity and egalitarianism but he cannot shed his responsibility for the welfare of Israel’s citizens, their ability to make ends meet, provide for their families and secure their future. Netanyahu needs to understand that alongside the security threats facing Israel, the daily lives of the Israeli citizens are in fact “life itself.”
Israelis on the whole need to do some soul-searching. This was the ugliest, most contrarian and radical election campaign Israel has seen in decades. Both sides are equally at fault. Now we just have to lick our wounds and wait to heal.
Heitner thinks that a unity government would be the best solution. I strongly disagree. Unity governments have only worked during wartime and even then barely. They tend to paralyze any decision-making of the government, and collapse ignominiously shortly afterwards.
But Heitner’s call for introspection is well-placed indeed. The temperature of Israel’s political emotions needs to be brought down to below boiling point. We have serious issues to face, both domestically and internationally, not to mention the Iranian sword hanging over our heads. We cannot achieve success in any of these fields with a society that is split and riven by hate.
But let’s not get too carried away with self-flagellation. Israel has so much to be proud of.
Israel Democracy Institute: Record Number of Female Members of Knesset http://t.co/p2WjW3EZHH
— Holly Huffnagle (@HHuffnagleAJC) March 18, 2015
I’m proud to be Israeli, proud of her achievements, proud of her ability to hold free and fair elections under the constant threat of war. I’m proud that an Arab Supreme Court Judge was the Chairman of the Elections Commission and that a record number of women have been elected.
I’m also proud that Israel allows the Pirates Party (no joke!) to stand for election, as well as the Breslav Hassidim “Na-Nach” Party, not to mention the Green Leaf party, campaigning for the legalising of marijuana.
Come to think of it, just imagine how mellow the Middle East would be if they came into power. 🙂
Let the haters hate. Am Yisrael Chai!
The author blogs at Anne’s Opinions, lives in Petah Tikva, and kindly met with Professor Jacobson in Israeli in 2013.
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.
Am Israel chai, indeed!
Now, pray for the USA and Obama. He sought and continues to seek Israel’s destruction. The Purim prayers of Netayahu will not fall to the ground before God. Obama should be careful what he does in relation to Israel in the near future.Netanyahu’s victory is the first part of the divine response; I shudder to think what the rest will be.
Oh, Lucifer, son of the morning, how art thou cast down….
I was halfway listening to Bibi on the radio this afternoon, and I realized I was hearing something strange.
It took me a while to isolate and identify it.
It was humility.
I am thrilled beyond belief that Tzipi Livni will never be Prime Minister.
What a relief Mr Netanyahu will remain PM
Next year in Jerusalem.
Ofra Haza – Yerushalaim Shel Zahav
If anybody can actually bring about a peace agreement during the coming term, it would be Netanyahu, not Herzog. All the same, I am not holding my breath while waiting for Hamas to have a change of heart, and repudiate its founding document.
‘As an avowed rightist…’
Remember: in rightist, there is mightist.
Bibi is 100,000,000 X the leader Obama wishes to be. I’m ashamed of our petulant man child in charge. I am envious that another country gets the true leader.
I don’t do bumper stickers, but if I ever do, “I stand with Israel” will be the first.
For faith, fun, and frustration of the Commies who worship their little ground god Obama, I’d have this: lo yiyeh lka ahuhreh elohim.
“Second, don’t believe the polls. Israelis constantly lie to pollsters. If you knew how often they call us, you’d understand why. On top of that, there are certain groups in society who are grossly under-represented in the polls. In 2013 and 1996 (to name two recent examples), the polls were way off.”
Israel Matzav is spot on. Even the exit polls were quite far off the mark, and that’s because there were no exit polls in Judea and Samaria (aka the settlements) or in the military, both of which groups vote strongly for the right. I can understand why there were none in the military – I’m sure the IDF didn’t want civilians wandering around their bases. But there’s no excuse for ignoring the settlements. They didn’t need to go the isolated outposts but they could easily have put exit polls in the big communities.
The military votes get counted a day or two after everyone else, and in every election I can remember, those votes added a seat or two to the right. It happened this time as well.
And every time the Left forgets about this phenomenon.
Am Yisrael Chai! God bless you all for making the tough choice in the face of foreign meddling by the US State Department.
A great article Ann, and yes, the introspection is necessary at all times. Seeking guidance from Divine providence has always been the hallmark of a wise and good leader. Let us hope that Bibi leans on the Lord more than on Pharoah’s (or President O’s) staff.
oops. Anne! (Sorry for the typo).
The root of contention seems obvious … the Obama Doctrine is “God Damn America” … and the rest of the western world. The apology tour and push to install Morsi made clear Obama disdains western values, and the power used to protect them.
Iran is the greatest sponsor of terrorism, backed by our greatest geopolitical enemy Russia. Hamas is backed by Iran. And now it seems half of Iraq is being yielded to Iran. Obama does not negotiate, he surrenders.
Obama doesn’t seem Christian or Muslim, he is more atheist Marxist. As a community organizer, he knows how to stir up contention, not how to bring allies together for a common good. Of course to Obama, the west is not good. It’s no wonder he can’t stand Bibi.
Obama’s black liberation pretense promotes class warfare, as he burns rather than builds communities like Ferguson, or Detroit. Traditional America would do well to stand up to Obama, as Netanyahu stands up for Israel.
Barracula made yet ANOTHER obsequious reference to a non-existent “anti-nuclear” fatwa from Iran.
The man is profoundly delusional. Any way you cut it.
And people like that will get you killed.
“the United States has said that Iran should have access to peaceful nuclear energy”
Nutty guy indeed … Iran sits on all that oil, but needs nuclear power. But the US can’t have new nuke plants, and Obama/Reid blocked use of Yucca Mountain after we spent $15B on it.
No energy is acceptable to Obama for US, unless it enriches his donors as Solyndra did. But he promotes “peaceful” nuke power for Iran. sheesh Tehran is writing his script it seems.
A boob who comments on another blog, a teacher at a community college in Maine, assured everyone that Iran needs nuklar power because it lacks refinery capacity.
How many refineries could they have built over the last decade for a LOT less money than they’ve spent on underground centrifuges?
AND…IFFFFFFF they needed nuklar pow-ah (small nod to Rev. Jackson), they could buy fuel for it on the legitimate market…and strictly account for it.
No. It’s all about them lying, and about delusional people eating those lies and making their own. They want a bomb, and Barracula seems to want them to have it, too.
From comments several people made to me, there was the fear that in the case of Herzog being Prime Minister and having to deal with another Hezbollah situation he would handle it as badly if not worse that Olmert.
Indeed that was the case. Despite the dominance of domestic economic and social justice issues in the election campaigns, in the end people didn’t trust Herzog and Livni to keep the country in once piece to start with. After all if you can’t defend your country you can hardly cope with its economy, right?
I have always believed, and believe now — offering BiBi’s win and Obama’s “loss” as another, timely proof — of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3. Just sayin’.
Bibi is a master politician. And, he knew Obama was going to come out against Israel ! Especially with a tu-tu-state solution. Drivel!
Bibi stuck himself in the line of fire! He called for elections. And, to the politicians who actually held portfolios, like Livni, it meant they were shooed off “easy street.”
Yes, the fight was ugly. But Bibi had to know his best opponent was obama, himself. As to the money that flowed in, it pays people. There’s no harm in money flowing around. Plus, obama lost BIG TIME!
Bibi’s next move is to take his time! He doesn’t have to play a single “portfolio” card for at least a month! And, each month that passes is another month closer to obama’s exit. Will he be like Jimmy Carter? Or will people write books?
I notice, too, that france just stepped up to the plate to complain about the iran deal, ahead. (Oh, and Kerry’s ambition for either a nobel putz prize, or the democratic nomination in 2016, looks dead in the water.)
obama is still a lame duck.