Within the realm of the possible, we cannot envision a better outcome of the Israeli election than the Netanyahu landslide.
Think about it: He is a seasoned player on the treacherous international scene. He shares our dream of a State of Israel astride the land of Biblical Israel. He is experienced in dealing with the duplicitous and corrupt Palestinian leadership as well as adversarial world leaders. As the architect of the startup Israeli economy, he is well-equipped to build on the Abraham Accords. He has been a friend to religious education and the religious community. Last but not least, his coalition government will be supported by 64 mandates in the Knesset, which will provide unusual stability and maneuverability.
The makeup of his 64 seat caucus means that, for the first time in its history, Israel will have an exclusively nationalist and religious governing coalition. In addition to Likud’s 32 seats, the Religious Zionist Party (including the factions led by Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, usually described as coming from the “far right”) secured 14 seats; and the Hareidi parties clinched 18 seats (Shas 11, United Torah Judaism 7).
While one could have expected that this unprecedented lineup would draw some international criticism from those supporting concessions to the Palestinians at the expense of Israel’s national interests, the heatedness of the disapproval was somewhat surprising. Officials from foreign governments – including the United States – were even quoted, anonymously to be sure, as saying that relationships with Israel would now likely be revisited across the board.
The criticism was not only from the government sector, either. Typical of some of the Jewish organizational responses was this statement from the Anti Defamation League:
“We congratulate PM and Likud Leader Benjamin Netanyahu on winning the elections and we wish him well in this endeavor. We are greatly concerned that the results of the Israeli election suggest the next government, led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will likely include representatives from the Yehudit and Religious Zionist parties, including their leaders Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, and offering the government ministries. Both have a long history of engaging in racist, anti-Arab, homophobic and other hateful behavior… We believe that including these far right individuals and parties in an Israeli government would run counter to Israel’s founding principles, and impact its standing, even amongst its strongest supporters.”
While the critics were prepared to challenge the results of an election in democratic Israel, none of the critics voiced any complaint we know of about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remaining in office 15 years after his term ended and refusing to allow new elections. Nor have we heard any mention of Abbas banning Palestinian activists from participating in a video conference in Ramallah to demand reforms and elections, though this action coincided with the release of the Israeli election results.
We are confident that Mr. Netanyahu will persevere in the face of all of the tumult, and that he is just the right person to lead Israel at this juncture. His critics should hold their fire and allow him to get on with the job for which the Israeli electorate chose him. He has an historic opportunity for nation-building and burnishing the Jewish nature of the Jewish state. And if they disagree with those goals, so be it.