As is becoming clear Wednesday morning, with more than 92% of the votes counted, Yamina, the last vestige of religious Zionism in the Knesset, which has received 7 seats – 2 better than in the disastrous, April 9 election – could have won 8 and even 9 seats had Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit listened to reason and bowed out before Tuesday’s election.
Ben Gvir, a gifted attorney and one of Israel’s best street theater performers, promised until the last minute that those internal polls suggesting he couldn’t possibly cross the 3.25% threshold were wrong. Like another delusional rightwing politician, Moshe Feiglin, who last April was convinced he was getting 8 seats and ended up with gurnisht, Ben Gvir had no doubt he was going to save the right, getting a Netanyahu coalition government past the needed 61 seats. In the end, Otzma’s loss dragged the rightwing bloc down by at least one, if not two seats, making Yamina even less relevant in the process.
An ideological, religious Jewish party, one would have expected from Otzma Yehudit at least a few “al Chet” claps on the chest, apologies to their voters and to the rest of us, who this morning are anxious about the future of a Likud-led coalition, even as Blue&White chairman Benny Gantz is already meeting with the Joint Arab List to discuss their promising future.
No such luck. The Maccabee warrior Ben Gvir looked inside the oil jar, realized it’s not providing for even close to 8 days’ worth of light, and started blaming his fellow Maccabees.
Ben Gvir began by suggesting his catastrophic failure was, actually, a huge victory: “I’m disappointed, I wish the vote samples were wrong, but it must be said, nevertheless, that we have had a tremendous achievement over here.”
He then went on to blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his personal nakba: “They say about Prime Minister Netanyahu that he is a political genius, but apparently, right now, he is neither genius nor political. Netanyahu made a grave mistake when he went for our heads again and again. Look at the way Gantz treated [Labor chairman] Amir Peretz, while Netanyahu simply dismantled his own government.”
“Next in line to receive a pointing finger of blame are Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett and Smotrich, their vanity and arrogance,” Ben Gvir continued his anti-tashlich. “They came to do an exit from religious Zionism: theirs is not religious Zionism.”
Naturally, the exit comment was a jab at Naftali Bennett who sold his hi tech shares to enter Habayit Hayehudi politics. So Ben Gvir is witty enough, but is this the way a religious Zionist leader begs forgiveness for his costly failure?
Finally the Otzma Yehudit hero got around to blaming the biggest culprit: the religious Zionist media:
“The religious media and those journalists who have really made it [in mainstream media] must do some introspection,” Ben Gvir said, actually telling others to meditate on their failures.
“I’m talking about [Channel 12 News star] Amit Segal, who, together with others complain that the media are biased, and they did the same thing to us. What they claim is being done to the right – they did to us.”
Let’s hope that between election day and Yom Kippur the Otzma Yehudit leadership will come to its spiritual senses and admit that they never had a chance, that they simply never had enough voters to go past the threshold, that they should have settled for the 8th slot on the Yamina list, and that they were misled by the modern age’s version of false prophecy: Internet-based polls.
This reporter definitely sides with MK Bezalel Smotrich who last night called Ben Gvir and his party “irresponsible people who because of their ego threw votes in the trash.”
Which is almost like tashlich…