While I’m not voting for Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu this election cycle, I feel it prudent nonetheless to consider the party. I’ve voted for them three times, joined the party once, and wrote a few blogs here about why I voted for them.
My vote is to the right of Likud — whether under Bibi or someone else. In previous campaigns Liberman advocated ”loyalty pledges” and ”death penalty for some murderers.” Yet, even when granted powerful ministerial positions that — ostensibly — granted him the power to act on his promises, his electorate got nothing. However, a 70+ strong coalition of Beytenu and Blue White and Likud is a powerful coalition. With or without Bibi at the head, as long as Yvet sits under a Likud premier the country will be in decent hands.
Still, I have the option to allow the Bibi-led-Likud to a coalition of 61+ right-wing MKs. This can be accomplished by voting for either of the Haredi parties, or Yemina — led by Shaked. While true that Shaked/Bennet would probably find a place in the Likud/KL/YB coalition at the expense of their more religious party members, a vote for Beytenu would absolutely not further my goal of a guaranteed right-wing Knesset.
Let me be clear, HAD Liberman managed to push through either/both of his previous campaign pledges he’d probably receive my vote again. He’d’ve demonstrated an ability to push rightist/nationalist policies through in a coalition that counted ”halachists” and ”messianic-minded” parties as members. So, while its very likely that there are some 70+ secular mandates to be had, that there are also some 70+ religious/right mandates to be had. And I do not believe that Liberman can bride the anyone-but-Bibi divide amongst them to create the 70+ mk coalition-of-the-secular.
Liberman’s Beytenu tries to straddle the fence between religious/secular AND right/left. Most people will not readily compromise on either their R/S OR R/L values simply because a party-of-the-middle is running. In previous elections I chose to vote for Beytenu because Liberman pledged to push rightist/nationalist policies that even those to his (and Bibi’s) Right didn’t propose. Those pledges simply weren’t advanced beyond ”paka paka” stage and the national dialogue on these issues has remained without viable policy solutions.
The choice between a pulled-Right-Bibi-led-Likud government OR a pulled-center-Gantz-led government is not a difficult choice for me. I appreciate that Liberman wants the Knesset to have a 70+ mk strong coalition, but as a right-minded voter, I have to ask, ”to what end?” What benefit would I see with Liberman sitting in the coalition? The experience-based answer is: Nothing.
Like many, however, I am worried by the growing Haredi influence on national politics. I am most irked by their seeming intransigence on sharing the national burden of serving the IDF or entering the workforce. I do not believe that their societal norms can be changed by outsiders, nor by them sitting outside the coalition. While I’d prefer them outside the coalition, there aren’t enough MKs who’d sit under Bibi and keep the coalition right-of-center.
I’ve tried to weigh my dissatisfaction with Liberman’s party’s over the past few governments VS his obvious strength-of-character AND political acumen, but the scales tipped against him. Though I like his secular nationalist agenda I do not want to risk a center-left government — even if Liberman crashes it a few months from now — when the alternative is a rightist coalition. So, I will NOT be voting for Beytenu, and you can too.