The Left in Israel continue to find themselves on the losing end of national elections. Post election you’ll find numerous political figures and endless articles pouring out from the Left with an overwhelming tone of bitterness and blame. Instead of the Left’s leadership taking responsibility for their loss, reevaluating their positions, and marketing them better, they continue to bury themselves further into isolation or as many call it “the Tel Aviv Bubble”.
Economics. Israel’s housing prices have skyrocketed and this has mostly occurred under Netanyahu’s leadership and it is his responsibility to bring down the prices. Aside from the soaring house prices, the economic arguments from the Left do not match the reality on the ground. For example many staple goods such as coffee has dropped significantly, along with cell phone plans, water bills, gas prices, electric bills and other basic necessities. Not all of these improvements are directly associated with the Right, but it is counter to the Left’s narrative.
People know very well why a Milky or chocolate pudding is cheaper in Berlin or New York. These countries have serious competition in the market forcing competitive prices. Voters, especially from the former Soviet Union, are aware of the government’s support for big businesses, therefore suppressing legislation that will open up industries to real competition.
The Histadrut (Israel’s major labor union) has done significant damage to Israel’s Left. The Histadrut has routinely gone on strike and shut down Israel’s airports, seaports, post offices and practically every part of the country. They have denied the worker his or her right to earn a living by calling a strike on his or her behalf. The Histadrut has also increased prices by forcing ships to wait at sea and making it extremely difficult and expensive to conduct business. The middle class has woken up to the damage the Histadrut and the unions have caused to the economy and the cost of living. Israel’s Left must distance themselves from the Histadrut and come out against them, as the liberal Yesh Atid party has.
Overall the economy is doing rather well and people attribute that to a Netanyahu government. Hi-tech is soaring. Tourism is at an all time high. Israel has free trade agreements in the pipeline with Japan, China and India. The minimum wage was just raised. The Israeli economy thrived during the international recession. Competition has increased in most sectors, and prices have dropped. Above all, Israel was unanimously accepted to the OECD. Voters notice this all happened under Netanyahu’s leadership and they feel it when they go to the store.
Appeasement. The Israeli Left said Israel would never be accepted to the OECD (which needs a unanimous vote from all members to join) because of settlement construction and because we are internationally isolated under a Netanyahu government. When the 31 advanced nations voted Israel into their exclusive group, it became apparent that the Right’s policies have not isolated Israel and that the Left continues to ‘cry wolf’ when international outcry has had minimal impact.
Repeatedly throughout the campaign when interviewers asked Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog what his first steps would be as prime minister, his focus was consistently appeasing the PLO and the White House. Many on the Left, consider these policies in Israel’s best interest, however they have become very insecure in Israel’s existence. This explains all the panic and hysteria by the Zionist Union leadership over Netanyahu’s speech to Congress and the need to appease the PLO and the Obama administration. Most Israelis however are very confident and optimistic in Israel’s future and see appeasement as weakness, particularly since we live in the Middle East..
International Support. The Israeli Left has more foreign support and funding than they do at home. Most of the funding for their NGOs such as V15, the New Israel Fund and other organizations are provided by foreigners with foreign allegiances. If the Zionist Union wanted to get elected, voters needed to feel that their loyalty was with them over alien funding and supporters. Most Israelis see these NGOs operating in Israel as a fifth column, it would have served the Zionist Union to at least verbally come out against these organizations rather than quietly embracing and collaborating with them.
Bigotry. The Left continues to attack Russian, Ethiopian and traditional Sephardi voters. Liberal academic Amir Hestroni recently said “If we didn’t open our legs without selection to all kinds of Jews, questionable Jews and half-Jews from third-rate countries, whose uniting characteristics are to kiss amulets, eat hummus, drink borscht, take government handouts and get an orgasm from arguing with the world — Boujie [Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog] would have taken it in a cake walk…The Israeli Left is paying the Zionist price, and no one other than the professor [Hetsroni himself]…is willing to say it.”
The Labor party is having trouble expanding beyond the Jewish voters of European descent. It is not because voters are not willing to give the Left a try, rather the Left continues to attack the poor, lower and middle class of Russian and Mizrahi Jews. Just recently, there have been social media campaigns from the Left to stop giving charity to the poor segments of society because of their general support for right leaning parties.
Before the elections the Zionist Union held a large rally in Rabin Square to boost their base. One of their headline speakers Yair Garboz said in his speech to the huge crowd “the thieves and bribe-takers, who kiss the ‘luck charms’ (mezuzahs) and bow down at the graves of the dead and the like are controlling and ruining Israel.” This is someone the Zionist Union decided to have speak at their major rally before the election. How disconnected can they get?
These examples of bigoted rhetoric lost many votes for the Left. This consequentially fired up the Russians and Sephardi Jews to come out and vote against this bigotry by giving support to the diverse right wing parties.
Post-election. It’s a shame that when a side loses by a landslide it makes excuses and blames the winner. Calling the prime minister a racist will never help Labor win. Especially when most of the left wing is overwhelmingly of European origin and the right wing are mostly Mizrahi. It would be wise if the Left got together and did some internal polling to see how their policies lined up with the public. But this is unlikely because slinging mud against your political opponent is easier than taking a public stand for all citizens against the United States and Iran. After all if they did take a stand, they would no longer be left wingers.