Israel’s Left is in trouble. It’s frightened. We know it’s frightened because of the way it’s gone on an emotional rampage when it saw ultra-Orthodox and religious Zionist Parties become part of the new ruling government.
This is not a good sign for the Left. A grande mal political tantrum could endanger its survival.
Last week, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finalized his new coalition government by inviting the religious Zionist Jewish Home Party to join him. He had already included two ultra-Orthodox Parties.
Leftists in Israel went absolutely nuclear. They took one look at those ultra-religious Jews and religious Zionists and turned with rage and scorn against the coalition.
That’s how much they hate the religious and the religious Zionists in Israel. They instantly committed to tearing down the new government as soon as they could.
Their language was filled with outrage:
-The coalition was a ‘national failure’ (Elad Benari, “Herzog: This is a 'Government of National Failure'”, Arutz Sheva, May 7, 2015).
-It was dangerous (Cynthia Blank, “Livni: I Won't Do Anything to Help Netanyahu”, Arutz Sheva, May 10, 2015).
-It was irresponsible (“Herzog: 'Weak' Government Will Soon be Replaced”, Arutz Sheva, May 6, 2015).
-It was unstable (ibid).
-It was a government of extortion (ibid).
It was weak. It won't promote a thing (ibid).
-it will destroy Israel (Yedidya Ben Or, “Herzog: Bibi Should Give the Mandate Back to the President”, Arutz Sheva, May 8, 2015).
They didn’t forget about Netanyahu. Here’s what they said about him:
-He sold out all of Israel's national interests to sectorial parties (ibid).
-He spat in Israel’s face (Tova Dvorin, “'Netanyahu is Spitting in the Face of the Israeli Public'”, Arutz Sheva, May 10, 2015).
-He was undermining democracy (Ido Ben Porat, Cynthia Blank, “Galon: Netanyahu is Acting Like the Extreme Right's Lackey”, Arutz Sheva, April 27, 2015).
In the days after the election, Netanyahu offered a plan to expand the number Minister portfolios in his cabinet from 18 to 20. That set off another round of outrage. Labor head Herzog told the Speaker of the Knesset to stop the expansion request. He went to Israel’s Attorney General with the same request.
Centrist Yair Lapid went further. He went directly to Israel’s High Court. He demanded it stop Netanyahu.
Herzog was adamant: these moves (to stop Netanyahu) were “only the beginning of what we will do as a fighting opposition” (“Herzog: We Are a 'Fighting Opposition'”, Arutz Sheva, May 11, 2015). He promised to end “this failed government” (which was barely sworn in) as soon as possible” (ibid).
He’s already called for new elections. He swears to Netanyahu, “'We will not let you lead; you will not be able to function" (Shlomo Pitrikovsky, Cynthia Blank, “Herzog Vows to Cripple Netanyahu's Coalition” Arutz Sheva, May 11, 2015).
Nice guy. While he raged, both the Attorney General and Israel’s High Court refused to respond positively to his request to block Netanyahu’s attempts to expand the number of Ministers. Both rejected the Left’s request.
As the Left threw its tantrum, two Jewish Home MKs, both women, suffered. One received death threats. She’ll now be assigned a bodyguard. The other had her personal appearance compared to Nazi Germany’s ‘Reich women’ (Uzi Baruch, Cynthia Blank, “Paritzky: Shaked's Looks Only Good Thing to Say About Her”, Arutz Sheva, May 10, 2015).
This kind of outrageous behaviour will not endear the Left to Israeli voters. Remember now, over the last three decades, Israel’s political spectrum has shifted to the right. Our Jewish population in Israel has become more nationalistic, religiously conservative, and hawkish on foreign policy and security affairs (Haim Malka, “Crossroads: The Future of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2011, p 19). As this right-ward drift unfolds, Israel’s liberal secularism retreats (ibid, p 99).
Therefore, throwing a temper tantrum isn’t going to help the Left in the political arena, not in this ‘new’ Israel. That kind of behaviour won’t make the Left attractive. It’ll make the Left look like bullies.
So far, it’s been less than a week since the new coalition was formed. So far, much of the political news we’ve seen seems to focus on the Left’s rage.
Well, it wasn’t all rage. Tzipi Livni, co-head of the Leftist Labor-Hatnua Party, did add a positive note to these proceedings--after she took her turn bashing Netanyahu and the new government. She said, “I’m not interested in political mudslinging” (“Livni”, above). Then she called Netanyahu a political “chameleon” (“Livni: Netanyahu is a Kind of Chameleon”, Arutz Sheva, May 11, 2015).
Is this the beginning of the end for Israel’s Left?