The Prime Minister has been reelected. In truth this result was practically inevitable. The prospect that Bibi could be defeated was only a utopian vision put forth by the left not unlike that of recent elections in the United States.
The elections for the 20th Knesset have concluded and the final results have been tallied. They show a resounding victory for Likud and the right. The Left Bloc and the Haredi (Ultra-orthodox) Bloc have shrunk while the Right Bloc and the Arab Bloc (represented en toto by the United List) have grown. Israel is unique in the Middle East, in that a ethnic and religious minority making up less than 20% of the population is so well represented in the national parliament.
Never a Viable Candidate
In the United States in 2013 the dust had barely settled from the 2012 elections when the next round began. We began to hear about the exciting candidates the left was going to field in the next election. Obama’s wave of popularity had brought two presidential election year victories. Why couldn’t the mid-terms be a success as well?
One such candidate was Wendy Davis, heretofore notable only for her opposition to Texas safety regulations placed on abortion clinics. The media spread the bubbly narrative that she was going to win the governorship of Texas; the largest and most prosperous red state. Likewise, Greg Orman, an independent candidate, was going to oust Pat Roberts one of the most conservative senators in one of the most conservative states: Kansas, which I happen to call home. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback faced a serious challenge from Democrat Paul Davis. Moreover, the Democrats claimed to have a major effort afoot to defend their majority in the US Senate.
In the end it all turned out to be a pipe dream drummed up by the media, and only ever existed in the abstract ether of the hopes and dreams of America’s Progressive left. The Democrats lost 9 seats in the US Senate, handing a solid victory to the Republicans. Greg Abbot was elected governor of Texas with nearly 60% of the vote; Davis could not even top 40%. In Kansas, Pat Roberts won a comfortable reelection with 53% and only embattled governor Sam Brownback narrowly missed a majority of the vote while besting his opponent by 4 points.
Republicans went on to win more offices at the state and local level than the GOP has held since the late 19th Century. Republicans control the legislatures and governorships in 24 states representing 47% of the American people. Only 7 states are likewise controlled by the Democrats, representing 13% of the population, of which only the perpetually bankrupt California is worthy of note. In 17 more states the GOP controls at least one house or the governorship; this includes Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts; all very blue states.
In truth, a Democrat victory was never truly viable. There was not going to be Democrat governor of Texas elected in 2014, their Senate majority was doomed from the start, and many other candidates were destined for defeat. In their defense, the left claimed that it resulted from low voter turnout. This lie works only if you consider voter turnout nationally, which is typically low in a mid-term election. In those states with contested elections, however, there was record turnout. Kansas had more voters turn out than in any mid-term election in history. The simple fact is, those who do not turnout to vote are also voting, their votes are in absolute agreement with the result, or they would have turned out and made their opinion heard.
This utopian effort was soon to play out once again on a far off continent.
Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s government began to crack, and slowly collapsed. Bibi had tried to answer the popular will in the 2013 election by working with Jewish Home to his right and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (There is a Future) Party to his left. Even Tzipi Livni, who had been runner up to Bibi for the PM’s office just four years earlier and had led the opposition, was welcomed into the coalition as Justice Minister. This balancing act, this effort to appease centre-left voters, turned out to be an error, and a costly one, especially for Israeli taxpayers. National elections in Israel often cost upwards of 250 Million Shekels ($71 million). to produce nothing more than a repeat of an earlier election? Surely, this money could have been better spent.
The Israeli left, perhaps egged on from the White House, convinced themselves that if elections were held they might have a chance at winning. Aware of Bibi’s, albeit temporary, low approval ratings following the recent flare up in the Gaza Strip, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid, at that time coalition members, slowly obstructed policy and ultimately refused to cooperate with the Prime Minister and the rest of the cabinet. This brought on the recent elections but two years after Israeli voters went to the polls.
Many attacks were leveled against Netanyahu from former intelligence, security, and military leaders. The media was frantic with a utopian vision of a government led by Labor Party leader Isaac “Buji” Herzog. In this orgy of energy and excitement for their leftist vision a key constituency was ignored: Israeli voters. Polls showed right from the beginning that voters were more likely to reelect Bibi than not. The truth is, there was never going to be a victory for the left, there was never going to be a defeat for Bibi Netanyahu, and there was certainly never going to be a government led by Buji; he may lead a future government, elected at a different time and in a different atmosphere, but not today. Like the Pharaoh’s efforts to retain his Hebrew slaves, a Zionist Union victory simply was not possibility.
In a series of posts here on the Times of Israel, I have written about the slow collapse of the government. I warned that if elections were held they would only bring a more right-leaning government to power. I shamelessly and unreservedly predicted Bibi’s reelection. I was not incorrect. In an article published December 5th of last year entitled Israeli Voters: All Dressed Up With Nowhere to Go, I predicted the outcome of the elections: reelection for Bibi and a stronger right. I do not buy in to utopian visions. I live in the real world. I have worked in the Knesset. I have spoken at length with many Israelis from almost every sector of society, including many of Israel’s various Arab groups. I never doubted the results for a minute.
Likewise, although I did not opine on the subject here, I never doubted the landslide victory of the GOP in the 2014 mid-terms. Nor do I have any hesitation in predicting a GOP win at all levels of the Federal government in next year’s contest. All over the world, people are rejecting the various utopian agendas of the western secular left. Whether it is fundamentalist Islam, the Russian strong man, the leaders of the developing world, or large numbers western voters.
After all the propaganda, half-truths, “faulty” polling, and the barrages against the Prime Minister, Bibi has emerged victorious. Now he will likely form a stable right-leaning government with the Haredi to the exclusion of the left. If Livni and Lapid had not believed their own hype, if they had not bought into the false premise that the left could win, if they had instead patiently remained in the coalition, they would continue to wield influence in Israel.
With her decision to drop out of contention for the PM’s office, Tzipi Livni may very well be finished. She is desperately touting the 12 seats she claims to have brought to Zionist Union by her merger with Labor, in an effort to retain her relevance. Even so, she will probably never come close to the PM’s office again. Lapid has weathered this storm with reasonable fortitude. His Yesh Atid (There is a Future) Party lost 8 seats but remained a substantial faction with 11 seats. He may yet have the opportunity to be influential to a future Israeli government.
For the moment, all on the left must lick their deep, devastating, and very self-inflicted wounds (from which many egos may never recover) and find a way to soldier on for the great cause in which they believe so strongly; but one that voters have, once again, soundly rejected. At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, yet another of Bibi’s opponents is nursing a bruised ego. Perhaps he should have thought better than to bully the leader of his country’s closest ally… Perhaps also America’s Jews should awaken to the reality that one party only patronizes Jews, while the other celebrates and defends their interests…