Rubin Reports: One Leader Who Will be Re-elected – Israel Goes to Elections (JEWISH PRESS) By: Barry Rubin 05/02/12)
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Israel is apparently going to have elections this autumn and Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly win by a big
margin. Understanding why explains a lot about the country that
people think they know the most about but in fact comprehend the
According to polls, Netanyahu’s Likud party may go from 28 to 30
seats in the 120-member Knesset. That may not sound like a big
percentage but with around 12 different parties likely to win seats
that margin would be sufficient.
One key element in this equation is that the country is doing pretty
well. True, it faces serious security problems but that’s the norm
for Israel. Indeed, with no other trusted leader on the horizon,
Netanyahu is the one most trusted to manage that dangerous situation.
True, too, there have been real social problems due largely to the
gap between low salaries and high living costs that especially hurts
younger people and provoked protests last year. That the protests
have dissipated and Israel’s economy is doing better—including low
unemployment, low inflation, and manageable state debt–than any other
in the West, is partly due to the same economic problems that impose
those social costs.
A third factor is the total fractionalization of the opposition.
Indeed, one might speak of Netanyahu and the seven dwarfs. Aside from
Kadima there are three other mid-sized parties that take votes from
the same potential constituency and quarrel among themselves:
–Kadima, the main opposition party which is vaguely centrist, is so
discredited by its former, failed leader Tzipi Livni that it will not
be saved by its new head, the militarily competent but colorless
Shaul Mofaz, from falling as far as losing 20 of its current 29 seats.
–Labor, which has reinvented itself as a social issues party and has
an untested leader who is a radio personality, might come in a
–A new centrist party—named, perhaps in wishful thinking for itself—
There is a Future—pushes the same secular centrism that has
repeatedly produced one-election parties before.
–Israel Our Home, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has a
solid base among immigrants from the former Soviet Union but by that
very fact—and given the fact that Lieberman is widely disliked and
close to indictment—should hold but not expand its base.
It is ironic to think that the Obama Administration, whose ignorance
of Israel and its politics cannot possibly be overestimated, thought
it was going to bring down Netanyahu and replace him with a more
pliable Livni. In fact, by its periodic bashing of Israel and ham-
handed Middle East policy promoting Israel-hating Islamists, Obama
unintentionally mobilized domestic support for Netanyahu.
Speaking about myths about Israel and Israeli politics here are some
of the main ones:
–Netanyahu is no longer a “right-winger” in the way he was 15 years
ago. He has moved into the center, a key factor explaining his
–Israelis do not believe they have a peace option at present, with
the Palestinians uninterested in a deal, and Egypt, Iran, Turkey, the
Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Syria in an all-out hostile mode.
–There is no faith in U.S backing given the Obama Administration’s
views and actions.
–Israeli are neither stupid—giving away everything, as the foreign
right often seems to think—or evil, as the foreign left definitely
does think. (© 2012 JewishPress. 05/02/12)
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