The oddest result of a month of polls is that there has been almost absolutely no change in the numbers.
The weekly Rafi Smith poll published Thursday night reveals that all parties are more or less stagnant and that national religious voters favoring the new Yachad party headed by Eli Yishai may be wasting their votes.
The new party has been on the edge of winning the minimum number of votes to enter the Knesset, but the Smith poll leaves Yachad under the radar. If polls in the next two weeks do not clearly show that the party has enough backing to win Knesset representation, voters are likely to abandon the sinking ship in favor of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.
Labor-Livni, running under the banner of the “Zionist Camp” party, would win 25 seats in the Knesset if elections were held today, according to the Smith survey. The number is unchanged from last week’s survey.
Similarly, the Likud party, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, would win 24 seats, followed by Bayit Yehudi with 16, one more than last week.
Next in line are Yesh Atid, whose chairman is Yair Lapid, with nine seats, and Shas, headed by Aryeh Deri with eight Knesset Members. Both parties’ support is unchanged from last week.
Kulanu (All of Us) headed by Moshe Kahlon won enough backing for eight seats, one less than last week.
Yehadut HaTorah (United Torah Judaism), the Ashkenazi Haredi party, gained one seat and now has eight projected MKs. Both Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu lost one seat and are down to five,
The joint Arab list of parties won 12 seats, one more than in the previous poll.
The changes of one seat up or down are relatively insignificant given the margin of error in surveys.
Pollsters insist there is a large bloc of undecided voters, but if that is the case, they appear to be decidedly undecided.
No matter how you spin the numbers, the results still show that Labor-Livni, or the Zionist Camp if you prefer the official name, have no chance of forming a government.
One Jewish Press report last week suggested that the Arab parties are “natural partners” for a left-wing coalition and that even if they don’t join the coalition, they would give their support for it in critical votes. Arab parties never have agreed to be part of an Israeli government, and given the fact that several of the Arab MKs are blatantly pro-Palestinian Authority and openly against a Jewish State of Israel, they are not about to change the tradition.
However, it also is unlikely that Kulanu and Yesh Atid would accept demands of the Arab parties if push came to shove and Herzog and Livni were to propose a coalition needing support of Arab MKs.
No party has any momentum. The only likely changes in the strength of the left-wing or right-wing camp will come from lukewarm supporters of Kulanu and Yesh Lapid.
That leaves the undecided voters to make up their minds, and they have a little more than six weeks to do so.
Neither Hezbollah nor Israel will go to war right now. Israel cannot defeat Hezbollah now any more than it could in the war n 2006, which ended in a military stalemate but a strategic victory for Hezbollah.
Hezbollah won’t go to war against Israel because it cannot afford to lose its already questionable prestige in Lebanon due to the terrorist party’s having entered the conflagration in Syria and bringing it inside Lebanon’s borders.
Hezbollah’s attack in Israel yesterday was an eye-for-an-eye retaliation for Israel’s pre-emptive bombing raid in Syria two weeks ago in which a dozen Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers and commanders were wiped out.
Their plan to attack the Israeli side of the Golan Heights bore out fears that Hezbollah wants to be able to strike Israel along the entire northern border, from the Mediterranean Coast of Lebanon to the eastern side of the Golan Heights.
“Hezbollah” does not just mean the terrorist party and army. It also means “Iran,” its financial and military mother.
“Hezbollah” also means “Lebanon,” to a large extent. Hassan Nasrallah’s party dominates the government, but the world recognizes “Lebanon” and not “Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah, diplomatically, is a state within a state. It has one of the largest military arsenals of any army in the world, with 120,000 missiles in Lebanon, and now in Syria, poised to pulverize not only northern Israel but also Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
It is an act of war when a country’s army attacks another nation and kills two soldiers. “Restraint” is not the proper response. The proper response is an all-out retaliation to end the enemy threat.
But officially, neither Lebanon nor Iran attacked Israel yesterday. The provocateur was a terrorist army and party. Israel cannot wipe out the Hezbollah army because, like Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, it operates from within civilian population centers and now also is located in the maze of hell that is called Syria,” which no longer exists as a nation except in name.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said yesterday, “My recommendation to those who challenge us in the north is to take a look at what happened in Gaza.”
Hamas had several thousand rockets, some of them sophisticated, but Israel’s Iron Dome system was able to intercept most of them. In addition, the land mass of Hamas-controlled Gaza is all of 139 square miles (360 square kilometers), surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and an unfriendly Egypt and Israel on the south, west and north.
Lebanon is nearly 30 times larger with 4,015 square miles (10,400 sq km). Besides the Mediterranean Sea on the west and Israel on the south, Lebanon — and Hezbollah — have Syria for a neighbor in the east and north.
Netanyahu said, “The (Israel Defense Forces) is responding now to the incident in the north. The IDF stands ready to act forcefully on all fronts.” In truth, he was only reassuring Israelis and sending shivers down the spines of the West, but he and Hezbollah know very well that Israel is not going to “act forcefully on all fronts.”
Israel does not have an anti-missile system that can protect the country against 120,000 missiles, some of them very long-range rocket and probably with chemical warheads. The IDF indeed could crush Lebanon. It could punish the country for allowing and actively supporting Hezbollah.
Before doing so, who knows how much Hezbollah would cripple Israel with missiles.
But everyone, especially Netanyahu, knows that any large-military operation would leave Israel isolated in the world
The United States stated yesterday its usual wishy-washy position that backs Israel with a big “but”:
We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon. We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation.
That was the same language used every time Hamas attacks Israel with a missile.
Any Israeli attack would be “disproportionate.” The international community does not apply the rules of war when it comes to Israel, which always must show it is so Christian that it can turn the other cheek and not use force.
As disgusting it sounds, the bitter truth is that Israeli won’t go to war over the deaths of two soldiers. It should but it won’t.
Israeli does not have the self-confidence, spiritually and diplomatically, to attack Hezbollah and Lebanon.
Nine years ago, Hezbollah kidnapped and murdered two soldiers and sparked a five-week war that proved that exposed, once again, Israel’s real weakness.
The Foreign Minister at the time was Tzipi Livni, who now threatens to become the next Prime Minister of Israel on a rotational basis with Labor party chairman Yitzchak Herzog.
Livni signed on the dotted line of United Nations Resolution 1701 that was a cease-fire version of the Oslo Accords. Instead of the Palestinian Authority, it was the United Nations that promised to disarm “foreign armies,” without naming Hezbollah.
The resolution stated:
Pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state.
The resolution called for:
Israel to withdraw all of its forces from Lebanon in parallel with Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers deploying throughout the South…
Disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon (implying but not stating Hezbollah)
No armed forces other than UNIFIL and Lebanese (implying Hezbollah and Israeli forces) will be south of the Litani River
No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government….
The importance of full control of Lebanon by the government of Lebanon .
Of course, Israel withdrew. Not only did UNIFIL not dis-arm Hezbollah, UNIFIL allowed it to continue to smuggle weapons from Iran, via Syria.
The resolution left Hezbollah ins a stronger than ever position and weakened Israel, which proved again its military may be strong but its backbone Is too weak to support a military victory to safeguard the country.
Below is a video of how Hezbollah terrorists escapes an Israel Air Force bombing of a missile launcher in the war in Lebanon in 2006.
Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni can’t catch a break.
The two thought they were being smart when they decided to change the name of the Labor party to “The Zionist Camp”, but Bayit Yehudi candidate Ronen Shoval filed an appeal on Thursday with the judge of Central Elections Committee claiming the party is misleading the public with false claims, and the evidence he brought were the anti/post-Zionist statements of the former Labor party’s own top candidates.
But that’s minor compared to the internal problems the Zionist Camp faces.
Tzipi Livni, who hopes to be rotating Prime Minister with Yitzchak Herzog after the March elections, said today she doesn’t want Jerusalem to be divided, but as for whether it will happen, she “hops not.”
She made the comment in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, in which said that dividing Jerusalem would be “part of the negotiations” with the Palestinian Authority.
Theoretically, she was being very honest since no one knows what will be tomorrow, let alone two months from now.
But that kind of intellectual honesty is not exactly what voters want to hear when it comes to knowing in whose to deliver the fate of Jerusalem, and of Israel.
“I hope not” is not going to convince anyone on the left or the right of Livni’s ability to stand up for what she thinks is right, unless the correct policy is to blow with the wind out of Ramallah.
Livni and Herzog suffer from an image of lack of strength, especially when it comes to security. That is Netanyahu’s ace in the hole.
But even worse for Herzog-Livni than the “I hope jot” position is the ridiculous notion of talking about “negotiations.”
Either Livni is parroting John Jerry or she really is out of the loop.
Palestinian Authority official “negotiator” said this week that relations with Israel have reached “the point of no return.”
Yesh Atid was actually Stern’s preferred choice before the previous election, but as he was late in making up his mind about running, the only realistic option left open to him at that point was the HaTnua party.
Four pre-election polls published Thursday night and Friday morning show varying results, but two of them reveal that the popularity of Labor-Livni has grown by a solitary seat in the Knesset. Nevertheless, Israel’s establishment media are reporting the trivial news as if there is a rush of support for the left.
Polls are not meaningless, but when a party registers one seat more or one less from week to week, it is virtually insignificant, numerically as well as statistically when taking into account the margin of error in small samples.
That has not stopped Israel Radio, known by the misnomer in English as the Voice of Israel, from promoting the results of this week’s poll as a victory for the “Zionist camp,” a label now claimed by everyone except for Neturei Karta.
Similarly, three television polls show that the lead party is the “Zionist camp,” whose list of candidates likely to be elected includes those who want to turn over all of Judea and Samaria as well as half of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, which has said that no Jew will be allowed to live there.
The same poll trumpeted by Israel radio also shows that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has a 4 percentage lead over Labor party leaders Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni when voters are faced with the question of who should be Prime Minister. However, Rafi Smith, who carried out the poll, said this is insignificant because of the margin of error, which apparently does not apply to results in favor of the left.
But that was the secondary headline.
The big news, according to Israel Radio, is that Herzog-Livni is now leading the Likud party by two seats instead of one.
The gap is 2, 4 and 1 in three polls on television channels 2, 10 and 1.
More significant is that Herzog-Livni still have no chance to form a coalition government without an ungodly collection of Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu or Yisrael Beiteinu and Haredi parties.
After adding up all the numbers, the picture has not changed from last week or even last month: There are two camps: the anti-Netanyahu parties of Labor-Livni, Meretz and Yesh Atid, headed by Yair Lapid; and the pro-Netanyahu camp of the Likud and the Jewish Home, which according to all polls is holding stable with 16-17 mandates.
The most significant changes in the numbers relate to Yisrael Beiteinu, which has been in a clear trend of a decline in the past month. The four polls give the party 5, 6 and 7 seats, far less than when the current Knesset was dissolved.
After taking into account small differences in poll results for the other parties, Kulanu, headed by Moshe Kahlon, Yesh Atid, Meretz and Shas are not moving up or down significantly.
Eli Yishai, who split from Shas and formed his own party, still is on the borderline of being shut out of the Knesset.
There are other very significant indications: If Labor-Livni picks up any more seats, it will be at the expense of Meretz or Yesh Atid, and vice-versa. If Kulanu attracts more voters, they likely will move over from Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beiteinu and possibly the Likud.
There still are two months left before voters go to the polls, and Israel Radio and most of the television channels will try to convince voters that Herzog and Livni have the best chance to win.
If the combined party comes out on top, President Reuven Rivlin will have little choice but to give it the first crack at forming a government, which brings back to mind the elections five years ago.
I was returning to my home in Israel after being in the States for a month.
Near the end of the ride, the airline attendants gave the 15 minute warning, after which everyone would have to stay seated, buckled-up in preparation for landing.
I was near the front of the line, waiting. A heavy-set man, perhaps in his early sixties, began speaking to me in Hebrew. I turned and smiled, and explained my Hebrew was not very good. He then continued speaking, this time in a broad mid-western American English.
I asked the man how it was that his Hebrew was so good, and he explained he had served in the IDF in the 1970’s. I was a little surprised, as he was not very rugged looking (or sounding), but I thanked him for serving.
He asked me whether I had been to Israel before, and I explained to him that I have been many times before and was living in the country for this whole year.
So far so good. An easy, smile-filled patter continued briefly, although I sensed a small dip of disappointment, perhaps realizing he would not be able to play the role of informed insider to a wide-eyed new visitor.
And then everything changed.
It changed when I told him where I was living this year.
Once I told him I was living in Gush Etzion, in the community of Efrat, a prickly shell began forming.
“Oh, one of my relatives lives there. He’s very right-wing,” he said to me.
“Really?” I replied, “What does that mean?” Perhaps my gaze became a little more focused at this point, perhaps a shell began coating my soft outer flesh.
“Oh, well, I know many settlers, I met them when I was serving in the West Bank, actually many are very nice.”
“But?” I prompted, still gazing intently at him.
“Well, like my friends, and as all of the major military figures agree, I know that the only hope for Israel is the new party with Herzog and Livni*,” he said, assuming that because there are former members of the Israeli military championing his dream ticket, he would win this round.
“What do you mean, the only hope for Israel?” I asked.
“Well, the only hope for peace,” he explained.
“So, you think Israel is the obstacle to peace?” I asked. That was the end of the conversation. He looked away, found a teenage girl who had come up behind us, and began querying her about her future plans. I heard him encouraging her to consider applying to the midwestern state university where he teaches.
It took a few minutes for my blood to cool.
I am sure my airplane bathroom line partner really believes he knows what’s best for Israel. He has to believe he loves Israel. And yet, he actually believes that Israel is the obstacle to peace. He firmly believes that unless a less “hardline” regime is voted in, Israel is doomed.
Never mind that Ehud Olmert tried to hand over control of Israel’s security to the moderate terrorist sitting in the driver’s seat over at the Palestinian Authority. Never mind that from before the time Israel was reborn she has never had true peace no matter who was sitting in the Prime Minister’s office, left, right or center.
On whom can we blame this man’s misguided thinking? And how can we hope to counter the message he so quickly shares on bathroom lines and, no doubt, in his classroom and synagogue listserv and possibly at public speaking events in his midwestern community?