Politics is rightly called a dirty business & our Prime Minister is proving very adept of playing the game below the belt.
The elections of last April ended in a stalement. There was no majority for a coalition Government. President Rivlin charged Netanyahu with the first opportunity to cobble together a coalition. He failed, after 28 days. He then asked for an additional 14 days, which the President did not have to grant, but he did. And what did Netanyahu end up doing – when he was again unsuccessful in forming a coalition – instead of turning over his mandate to President Rivlin in order for someone else to possibly form a Government, against convention, he dissolved the Knesset & threw the county back into an expensive election cycle.
Netanyahu is fond of claiming that a vote for the Likud is a vote for a strong right versus a vote for anyone else is a vote for the left. But this is a lie, on several fronts. First, the opposition is not all left wing; Gantz, Lapid, Ya’alon &. Ashkenazi can hardly be considered left wing. Second, if you take the two religious parties, UTJ & Shas, who support the right for mainly financial reasons, the left bloc is actually greater than the right. So the talk about the right being a greater bloc than the left is misleading. Third, as Netanyahu himself demonstrated following the last elections, offering the hated left positions in “his right wing Government” is suddenly “kosher” if it can help to keep him in power & out of jail.
And now we come to the biggest lie of them all: “The Arabs are stealing the election”. Like in 2015, when Netanyahu realised he might be losing the election, in the last hours that the polls were open Netanyahu took to the media that he criticises so readily to proclaim; “The Arabs are voting in droves”. That wasn’t the case but the “fear factor” he unleashed among his many “followers” acted to cause a last minute surge by Likud supporters at the voting booths that put Netanyahu over the top.
In the last elections Netanyahu had his lackey David Bitan, who is himself under inditement, organise the placing of cameras in many Arab voting districts. This practice had not been authorised by the Israeli Election Committee but happened none-the-less & paid off, in part, by introducing an intimation factor into the Arab sector that helped to suppress the Arab vote.
Suppressing the vote is not viewed by Netanyahu & his supporters as supplanting democracy; rather the opposite, in their twisted logic they are protecting democracy against the danger of Arab-Israelis committing some kind of voter fraud. Interestingly, the Likud seems to have no problem with their Haredi partners obtaining ridiculously high voter turnouts in Bnei Brak, Beitar Illit, Jerusalem & other Haredi strongholds.
This time around it is more of the same: “The election is being stolen” & therefore we need cameras in the voting booths (read Arab). Supposedly some unsubstantiated Likud investigations have revealed certain improprieties in Arab areas. So less than 12 days before the coming election the Likud suddenly wants cameras at the voting booths. The Attorney General, Mandelblit, who has been “soft” on Netanyahu regarding his legal problems, is against the cameras. So is Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, who heads the Central Elections Committee. But that is not enough to stop the Netanyahu campaign who plan to somehow try & ram through a bill in a Knesset that has supposedly been dissolved.
The question Israelis have to ask themselves is whether we want to become another Turkey or if we, the majority, can come to our senses in time, get off our behinds, & vote this demagogue out of office before he can hurt the country already more than he has?