Okay, I’m just going to say it outright: When Likud is in power fewer Israelis die.
Our current right-wing government may have failed Israelis on so many other levels. But even with the widest social unrest the country has ever seen, and strikes by everyone from baggage handlers to doctors to lecturers, the one thing that Israelis can be sure of is that there is less chance of war when Likud is running the show. It is this that has proven to be its golden ticket, and it is this that has led to the upswell in support for Likud evidenced by recent polls in Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz.
The reason is clear: Likudniks aren’t interested in rocking the boat by changing anything. They will approve more settlements — more than the left would like to see and less than their own partners in government want. They will not try to make peace with anyone — they won’t even sit down with the Palestinians — and in the meantime, everyone, on both sides of the wall and in Gaza, will get on with their lives, firm in the knowledge that their daily routine won’t come under threat.
It is when the left is in power and politicians attempt to actually make things better in the long run that the attacks begin. Under Likud Hamas has been hitting us with just enough rockets to warrant the occasional air strike, but not enough to provoke another ground invasion, while Hezbollah has been almost completely silent. Under Olmert and Livni it was open season, and attacks on us led to two wars. Whenever they tried to make peace, the extremists came out of the woodwork to prevent the spectre of change and increase their own popularity through war.
When we go to the polls, probably in September, we will be asking ourselves whether we should continue to think of a relatively peaceful today and therefore vote for the Likud. Although we all know that with every settlement built it will be that much harder for us to leave the West Bank in the future, we opt for that choice over the prospect of a stormy today. In the long term, the left may offer the eventual possibility of normalization of relations with the rest of the Middle East, a state of Palestine alongside ours, and a corresponding improvement of our standing in the international community. But in the short term, that spells nothing but more hardship.
With the left there is everything to gain and everything to lose; with the right there is no prospect of gain and, apparently at least, nothing to lose.
As for me, I’ll be voting for Lapid, in the hope that Yesh Atid will really usher in the future that I want to see. Still, I’m under no illusions as to the hardships that await us should any peace process begin — which is why I can certainly understand why people would choose to vote for the right. But make no mistake about it: there is only so long that even the strongest swimmer is able to tread water.