Israel’s shift to the right

The vote in Israel shows that a majority of Israelis voted for right-leaning parties. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, loathed by many for issues like wanting Arab Israelis to swear a loyalty oath, won fifteen seats in the Knesset. Labor, the party that gave us the worst Defense Minister ever (but the best Stalin lookalike, Amir Peretz) won only thirteen. The “peace” parties—the parties that the world most expected to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians—were shoved aside. Why is that? Why is Labor doomed to the opposition, and Meretz even more marginalized than before? Read what an Arab member of the Knesset says:

Nonetheless, MK Ahmad Tibi said, “The Israeli public must ask itself how a fascist like Lieberman wins 15 mandates and becomes the third largest in Israel. Fifteen mandates is too much. It’s shameful for Israel.”

I don’t think it’s the Israeli public that much ask itself how Lieberman can win fifteen mandates. I think it is the world that needs to ask itself why the Israeli public felt the need to give fifteen mandates to Yisrael Beitenu. And the answer is pretty clear:

A mortar shell landed in an open area in Eshkol Regional Council Wednesday afternoon. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Tuesday night, half an hour before polling stations closed, a Qassam rocket was fired at the western Negev.

The rocket exploded in an open area between the Sha’ar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils. No one was injured and no damage was caused.

Sunday morning another rocket was fired on Israel, and exploded in a parking lot in a kibbutz in Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council. No one was injured, but a number of cars were damaged and caught fire.

Ariel Sharon broke with Likud in 2005 to form Kadima so that he could effect the withdrawal from Gaza. And many Israelis believed Sharon’s promise that withdrawing from Gaza would be good for Israel. After Sharon’s stroke, Israelis gave Ehud Olmert the chance to continue with Sharon’s work. In response, Israel got thousands of rockets, terror attacks, shootings, a kidnapped soldier, and no peace. Israel’s situation since leaving Gaza has worsened. The war that just ended last month has not stopped Hamas from firing rockets and mortars. So Israeli voters withdrew their approval for the centrists, and gave it to the parties that lean to the right. If Likud had been headed by a new face that Israelis trusted, rather than an old face that Israelis lack confidence in, Likud might very well have come off the big winner. The election result is a decided thumbs-down for Kadima.

Israelis want peace. But the policies of the last decade have failed. So Israelis are voting for the strong horse, as they say, but only just. The right-leaning parties have a bare majority in a 120-seat Knesset. The majority of Israelis no longer trust the peace process, because they’ve tried it for decades, and every time Israel gives up land, in return, they get terror.

The Gaza Strip was not blockaded when Israel first pulled out. Instead of working on building Gaza up economically, Gazans destroyed every last vestige of Israel, including the greenhouses, and then installed Hamas firmly into the government. The message to Israel was clear: We’re still going to destroy you. The thousands of missiles carried that message to southern Israel on a regular basis. Even now, Hamas refuses to stop the rockets, refuses to put aside “resistance,” and still calls for an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israelis aren’t stupid. They were hopeful. They were optimistic. They were willing to believe that the Palestinians wanted peace just as much as they did.

They were wrong.

And that’s why the Israeli vote went to the right. Not because of the drivel that you read in the AP that says Israelis have a “self image as a besieged nation surrounded by enemies.” Not because “many Israelis are still traumatized by the Palestinian uprising.”

They voted for Likud and Yisrael Beitenu because Israel gave peace a chance. They tried land for peace. It didn’t work. Now, Israelis are going to give the Palestinians a government that won’t keep trying the same failed policies. Bibi Netanyahu has promised to work from the bottom up, instead of the top down, which is exactly what should be done. Let the Palestinians stop the terror first. It’s about time they stopped being rewarded for not fulfilling their end of any deal.

This entry was posted in Israel, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Israel’s shift to the right

  1. Soccerdad says:

    As I mentioned in my e-mail, there’s something perverse about Tibi, who served as Arafat’s adviser even as he served in Knesset criticizing Lieberman. If there weren’t Arab politicians like Tibi, there wouldn’t be Israeli politicians like Lieberman.

  2. LynnB says:

    Great analysis, Meryl.

    One small correction: The disengagment from Gaza was completed on August 22, 2005 (and from northern Samaria the next day). Sharon announced his intention to leave the Likud and form his own party on November 21, 2005.

    So clearly he didn’t form Kadima to effect the disengagement, which had been completed three months earlier. The split was more a result of the disengagement and the subsequent fracturing of the party as a result.

    I only bother to mention this because I’ve seen this error repeated a few times now in the post-election reporting and once it gets repeated often enough on the internet it will be hard to call back.

Comments are closed.