It’s all about Bibi…writes Ron Weiser

March 8, 2015 by Ron Weiser
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The most amazing thing about the coming Israeli election is that with so much going on in the region and with so many internal issues needing attention, when it comes to policy issues this is a Seinfeld election – an election about nothing – a policy free zone.

Dr Ron Weiser

Dr Ron Weiser

This leads to the particular irony that despite there being few substantial policy differences between all bar one of the political parties, many people claim that Israel is polarised and divided.

So how can this be?

This is not an election about whether to make peace with the Palestinians, this is not an election about what to do with Iran and this is not an election on the results of the recent Gaza war.

This is also not an election about haredim, social justice or numerous other internal issues.

This is an election about Bibi Netanyahu and optics.

The polarisation is around the Prime Minister himself.

Bibi IS the issue.

This is an election between those who support Bibi and those who support anyone but Bibi.

Whilst there are little policy differences between almost all of the parties, their manner and words in reaching the same conclusions “sound” different.

The real game is therefore the optics.

For example, both Bibi and Labor are committed to a 2 State Solution.

Both Bibi and Labor are committed to those 2 States being a Jewish State alongside an Arab/Palestinian State.

Both are opposed to the so-called Palestinian Right of Return.

Both are committed to retaining the settlement blocks and therefore the vast majority of the so-called settlers.

Both are worried that a Palestinian State will bring another Hamastan, this time on Israel’s east.

And neither believes a Palestinian State is going to happen anytime soon.

Nor does the Israeli public.

So in the absence of policy differences, it’s all about intentions, gauging the sincerity there of and sound bites – that is, optics.

How does it look? How does it sound?

Now this is important, but this is more important to Jews and Israel’s allies outside of Israel generally, than inside Israel herself.

The truth is that Bibi has a long history of being a poor election performer and has never been strongly supported by the voters.

At the same time, the truth is also that with the exception of one devastating electoral defeat in 1999 to Ehud Barak, no-one has come along who is much more popular than Bibi either.

The Likud under his leadership regularly achieves only around 20% plus/minus of the total Knesset seats – and all of the problems of governing flow from that statistic.

So, in short, Bibi is not all that popular, but no-one is more popular.

It is possible to make the following points about what will happen on the 17th of March and in the days and weeks after the election:

  • If Bibi defies the polls and the Likud comes out a clear winner, which is with many more seats than its nearest rival, then that obviously is that. But according to the current polls, that is unlikely.
  • If Naftali Bennett’s party (Jewish Home) does very well, then as it is the only Jewish based party that cannot go with Labor without going back on its policies, Bibi will be the best placed to form a government. How Bennett’s party polls will be, in my view, a key factor to who will ultimately be Prime Minister.
  • If the final tally sees Likud and Labor with a similar number of seats, and if Bennett performs only as well as a number of other parties, then the role of the President may well be decisive.

In 2009, Tzipi Livni’s then Kadima party got 1 more seat than Bibi/Likud and yet the “left wing” President Peres invited Bibi to form a government, as is the President’s prerogative. This seemed odd to some, but should not have.

Now we have the “right wing” President Ruby Rivlin, a person whose presidency Bibi tried to block and who it can be said, does not enjoy good relations with Bibi or Sara (Bibi’s wife and a key player), who will feel far from obligated to giving Bibi first run at forming a new government if an alternative looks even mildly feasible.

This election was called approximately half way into the government’s term.

No-one can really tell you why, other than for political self-interest.

Let’s hope that once the dust settles, Israel will have a government led by whoever it turns out to be – and it must be said that Bibi looks the most likely but not by all means a certainty, not at all – and that we can return to dealing with the real issues that Israel faces on so many fronts.

Comments

7 Responses to “It’s all about Bibi…writes Ron Weiser”
  1. Noel Erlich says:

    I watched a Statesman address the joint sitting of America’s Congress. This is an election about the security of Israel and the well being of all Jews in the Diaspora.He has weaknesses but he has an inner strength that we all need at this moment.

  2. Gil Solomon says:

    Ron,

    Your comments: “For example, both Bibi and Labor are committed to a 2 State Solution” and “Both Bibi and Labor are committed to those 2 States being a Jewish State alongside an Arab/Palestinian State” are tired old clichés that have long past their use by date.

    Certainly Netanyahu, Likud and other rightist parties no longer in their right minds believe a two state solution is possible. The issue of a two state solution with these people is dead and buried to all except the loony left.

    For once I’d like to see an article from you where you give an opinion one way or another on various issues, as against just pointing out this and that. An article where you stick your neck out and get comments back from those who agree or disagree with your point of view.

  3. Cody Flecker says:

    The jewish People never really had a leader who can deliver the real goods on prosperity. Israel always was faced with uncertainty and fear. The exception to that theory could be made in favor of King David, and his son Solomon. Other than that, Israel has always been in peril. What the State of Israel needs is another Bar Kochba, but instead it has to settle for a Bibi who out of practicality must deal with an Islamic President of the United States, taking all of the garbage that this Prudent can bestow upon the leader of the only democratic state in the Middle East. Most Jews regardless of where they live still have the ghetto mentality close to heart. Regardless of whether they are Orthodox or Reform, liberal or conservative, they still firth wrath of the populace “turning on them” This irrational fear makes these otherwise very successful people feel like they have something real to worry about. Things maybe worse in the diaspora, but in Israel this fear is realized by every Israeli 24/7. The fear of annihilation by a Muslim entity that every day calls for the death of the Jews. This fear is real as almost everyday, there is another tragedy, terrorist bombing, stoning, or wanton murder. The ghetto mentality is a fact of life to every Israeli, and this is why they need a feisty leader like Bibi Netanyahu. They need a leader who can stand up to the insults, and temper tantrums the leader of the free world showers on tiny Israel. They need PM Netanyahu.

    • schneur naji says:

      you are talking about a Jew who will be totally committed to Torah, not a traditionalist politician.
      You are talking about the Messianic Age.

  4. Evelyn Rosenbaum says:

    Bibi was not called by Peres as far as I remember. Livni was called and couldn’t garner enough to her side and then Bibi was called

    • Ron Weiser says:

      Sorry – that was not the case. There was speculation that if he had called Livni she might not be able to form a government, but she was not invited to. Peres went first to Netanyahu.

  5. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    The social economic issues facing working class Israelis should be at the centre of the election, poverty, real poverty is faced by a third of the electorate.
    Yes the threat of a nucleur Iran is a major issue, but is it the number one problem facing the Nation.
    I sense that another coalition of parties will be cobbled together in the well known Israeli form of “horse-trading” where the various leaders are eager to occupy the government benches more for their own sake than for the wider good.
    Israel needs fundamental electoral reform, until then, we will witness the present charade, similar faces jumping from party to party, making deals to enshrine themselves in government ministries under leaders with whom they disagree.

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