The election of Israel’s next Prime Minister will not take place during the next (as yet unscheduled) national election. Instead, the selection of Israel’s next leader will most probably occur at the end of this month, on January 31, when the nation’s most powerful political Party—Likud—is scheduled to hold an internal primary.
Observers of the political scene in Israel have good reason to believe that the next national leader will come from Likud because there is simply no other political party with Likud’s reach. The one Party most capable of displacing Likud—Kadima—has actually been falling behind Likud in polls taken over the last six months. After Kadima, the next most powerful party—Yisrael Beiteinu—has approximately half the seats of either Likud or Kadima. In the competition for national leadership, the only game in town is Likud vs Kadima—and right now, with an Israeli electorate becoming increasingly suspicious of a two-state solution just as Kadima repeatedly declares that our only option is a two-state solution, it is no surprise that Likud looks as strong as it does.
The issues facing Likud members who vote in this primary focus on philosophy and preparedness. As of today, there are two major candidates running for head-of-Likud: Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Feiglin. Each of these men has a philosophy and a preparedness to be Prime Minister. The differences are stark.Benjamin Netanyahu, as current Prime Minister, is an experienced leader. To use an expression, he ‘knows the drill’. But is he the best man to face what is to come? Odds makers in America currently have Barack Obama as winner of the 2012 US Presidential election—and while that could change, it is the only data Likud voters will have at the end of the month when they vote. How will Mr Obama treat Israel should he win re-election? Conventional wisdom suggests that his behaviour towards Israel will not be especially positive. The two recent instances during which Mr Netanyahu had to cope with a hostile US President suggest that he is not equipped to handle that hostility. In February and March, 2011, after the US vetoed a UN attempt to label Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria as ‘illegal’, Mr Obama’s anger was, according to some American Jewish leaders, shocking. There is evidence to suggest that Mr Netanyahu was bullied at that time, and caved in to that bullying (read the blog essay below found in March 2011, ‘America’s UN veto and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu’). In the second incident, in late May 2011, during Mr Netanyahu’s visit to the US, he responded—at first—with honor and courage to Mr Obama’s pressure; but then, upon returning home, appeared again to cave in by offering to accept pre-1967 borders. Re-elected, Mr Obama’s pressure on an Israeli Prime Minister could be too much for a man who has a track record of yielding-under-fire. Mr Netanyahu’s philosophy is to yield to the Left at home, and back-pedal on the international stage. His behaviour suggests that he may not be the best man to lead Israel into an increasingly hostile future. His philosophy-in-action reveals two problems: first, it is not Likud; and second, it has prompted him to back-pedal so much, he has left himself little room to manoeuvre in the face of future international pressure. Worse, he has no philosophic basis upon which to build a determined resistance to pressure. He will therefore continue to melt.
Mr Feiglin, on the other hand, does not have Mr Netanyahu’s experience. Normally, this could be a negative. But here, it is a positive because Mr Netanyahu’s experience has been, essentially, to cave under pressure and to seek succour with Leftists. His behaviour is not Likud-like. Mr Feiglin has no such ‘experience’. His experience is founded upon a philosophy that puts G-d and Israel first. His decisions are based on faith and a clear understanding of what he believes. He has a strong foundation from which to resist international pressure. Mr Netanyahu has no such foundation.The Left in Israel rejects Judea and Samaria. Kadima supports this rejection. Mr Netanyahu is Likud, and the Likud Platform is clear about keeping Judea and Samaria; we should therefore expect that he will defend and protect that land. But by agreeing to 1949 borders as a pre-condition to talks with Abbas, he has instead rejected Likud. Other recent actions reveal his basic truth: he embraces the Left and he will therefore react as a Leftist at the negotiation table. This is what he has done. It is how he acts. It is how he prepares to lead us into the future.
Mr Feiglin has no such liabilities. Read his website postings for 2011. See how he has responded to international and domestic events. Compare those responses with Mr Netanyahu’s.If you are Likud, who should you vote for?