Here is the simplest way to describe what happened in Israel’s election: the Right won and the Likud lost.
The Right’s clear win is not surprising. Ehud Olmert provided Israel’s citizens with all the incentive they needed to vote for the Right. But the greatest surprise is without doubt the Likud’s searing defeat.
It takes extraordinary talent to take the ruling party of the national camp from its height of nearly 40 Knesset mandates at the beginning of December – leading the collapsing Kadima by 15 mandates (all figures based on the Uzit average of pre-election weekly polls) – and to lose to Kadima just two months later.
True, it seems that Benjamin Netanyahu has a reasonable chance to form a coalition. But even if he succeeds, and I am far from sure of that, it will be a short-term national paralysis government – at best. Even when Netanyahu had scored a clear victory over the Left in the past, he did not know how to translate this majority into concrete policy changes that would steer Israel on a steady, nationalist course. Now that the Likud has lost and Netanyahu’s power is dependant on Avigdor Lieberman, it is highly unlikely that Netanyahu will be able to lead Israel to make the changes vital to Israel’s survival.
The other possibility is, of course, a national unity government. I have written many times that a national unity government essentially creates a monopoly of ideas, neutralizing the voters’ choice. When corporations do that for money it is called a cartel, and their directors go to jail. When politicians do it for power it is called “unity,” and they go to the prime ministerial residence.
But even if we momentarily ignore the problematic nature of all unity governments, it is clear that in the best case, this government would be paralyzed. It would be unable to negate the Oslo rationale of retreat and destruction when Oslo’s inventors and proponents would be the bulwark of the government.
The solid nationalist Jewish majority in Israel has lost its ability to rule. That is due in large part because it did not have the wisdom to establish a clear, Jewish alternative to the anti-Jewish agenda of the Left. But in this election, the fundamental problem has taken on a new political expression. While the Jewish majority grew even more, its ruling party lost.
It is not complicated to analyze the reasons for the Likud defeat. The graph of the polls shows exactly where the Likud began to lose ground. Leaving that issue aside for now, the simple fact is that this is the third straight loss for the Likud under Netanyahu’s leadership.
In the 1999 elections, the Likud under Netanyahu plunged from 32 to 19 mandates. Six years later, the Likud under Netanyahu nosedived from 38 mandates to just 12. And now, despite wall-to-wall predictions of a clear victory for the Likud, Netanyahu has led the party to defeat at the hands of Kadima.
The first defeat could possibly be explained due to extreme media bias against Netanyahu. The second defeat could possibly be explained due to Ariel Sharon having just created the Kadima party. But this third defeat has no explanation – other than Netanyahu himself. In fact, the only time that Netanyahu ever won an election was against Shimon Peres. Now it seems that the ruling party and leadership tool of the national camp has gotten stuck with a “Shimon Peres” of its very own.
This is not just the Likud’s problem or an intra-party question. It is a question of the Jewish majority’s ability to shake off the Oslo mentality, lead the nation on a Jewish path, and save Israel from the agony of the autoimmune plague that we know as Oslo.
Manhigut Yehudit Dinners
This year Manhigut Yehudit scheduled two annual dinners, one in New York and the other in Jerusalem. The March 1 dinner in Jerusalem (the first ever in Israel) took place at the Ramada Hotel. The New York dinner – our 7th annual such event – will be held at the Sands of Atlantic Beach on Wednesday, March 11.
We welcome your participation in these dinners either in person, or by sending in an ad for our special Journal Book. These dinners are a mustfor our organization, as they are the onlyfundraising events of the year and they determine the level of activity for the coming year.
Like the dinner in Israel, I will be joined as guest speaker at the New York dinner by my Manhigut co-founder Shmuel Sackett. Come watch our original film, “Campaign 2008” – the Likud primary from beginning to end, with amazing media clips and behind-the-scenes footage. For information and reservations, please call 516-295-3222.