Daniel Greenfield has written an interesting essay (“Why the Israeli Election Isn’t a ‘Win’”, Front Page Mag, March 18, 2015). He takes a first look at the results of Israel’s March 2015 national elections. He doesn’t like what he sees.
Greenfield is a strong pro-Israel advocate. He understands the nature of Netanyahu’s win. He’s not happy about it. He sees it as “a worse version of the status quo” (ibid). He could be correct.
He says Likud has either kept the same amount of seats it had, or lost a few seats. Here, I’d say he’s wrong. He’s got the correct insight about the Right. But he may have missed something.
First, look at some election numbers: Likud went from 20 seats in 2013 to 30 seats yesterday. That’s a very strong increase.
Yes, in 2013, Netanyahu actually got 31 seats total. But 11 of those 31 seats didn’t belong to Likud. They belonged to Likud’s partner Yisroel Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Liberman. They came into Netanyahu’s hand through a business deal with Liberman, not because of Likud’s winning message.
His 30 seats in 2015 were won entirely by Likud’s message alone. That could give Netanyahu a stronger hand. It could be a plus for Likud. But it’s potentially a devastating minus for the Right.
Likud under Netanyahu hasn’t been a ‘Right’ Party. The Left in both Israel and the US say Likud is a Right-wing Party. On paper, that might be true. But under Netanyahu’s leadership, Likud has not been Right.
A truly Right Party leader wouldn’t pursue peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas. A truly Right Party leader wouldn’t release terrorists. A truly Right Party leader wouldn’t have ended the 2014 Gaza-Israel war so soon. A truly Right Party leader wouldn’t harass small outlying Jewish communities (and the Jews who live in those communities) in Judea-Samaria. A true Right leader wouldn’t declare during an election season, ‘there will be no two-state solution’ and then two days after the election state, “I Want a Two-State Solution” (Gil Ronen, “Netanyahu Flip Flop: I Want a Two-State Solution” Arutz Sheva, March 19, 2015).
Jewish Home, Yisroel Beiteinu and Yachad are Israel’s true Right Parties. Yisroel Beiteinu lost almost half its seats in this election (it had 11 seats in 2013; it now has 6). Jewish Home lost a third of its seats. It went from 12 seats in 2013 to 8 seats. Yachad didn’t even make the cut: it will have zero seats in the Knesset.
In 2013, the Right (outside of Likud) had 23 seats. In 2015, it has 14.
This is why this election did more than weaken the Right. The Right lost 39 per cent of its seats. It’s been crushed.
The irony is, Netanyahu was on his way to losing this election. Jewish Home was on its way to consolidating its power base. Netanyahu couldn’t close the polling gap between himself and Isaac Herzog of Labor. But then he appealed to the Right: no two-state solution or terrorist releases if I’m Prime Minister, he said. Vote for me for a secure Israel, he said.
That was enough to get him elected. Rightist voters abandoned their more ‘Rightist’ Parties to help Netanyahu. He won.
Many say he won because of those last-minute promises. Unfortunately, he has a history of reneging on campaign promises to the Right. Has he just reneged again? (“Netanyahu Flip Flop: I Want a Two-State Solution”, above)
As Greenfield points out, Israel’s true Right is currently tethered to a Likud that doesn’t represent its ideology. The danger is, with a stronger false-Right Likud facing a weaker true-Right in the Knesset, Netanyahu might feel free to continue making the kinds of anti-Right decisions he’s made in the past—with even less interference from a now-weakened Right.
But then there’s this to consider: Netanyahu turned to his Right to be saved from defeat. In a sense, it was the Right’s positive response to his appeal that helped him escape--at the very last moment--from the jaws of certain defeat.
Will he now actually honour what he’s promised? Will he repay the Right for saving him?
Today’s flip-flop doesn’t sound encouraging.
Here’s a simple question followed by a simpler answer:
Simple Question: will Benjamin Netanyahu give us a secure Israel or a two-state nightmare?
Simpler Answer: start praying.