Barbara Diamond

Courage in the Israeli voting booth

Elections for national leaders should be a simple matter. Go to vote, and presto- the Nation has a new leader and representatives to help him/her rule for the coming years. Not so in Israel. The nature of the process is so convoluted as to allow 32 political parties to enter the fray in the upcoming election. Believe it or not, this is a reduced number from the previous election on April 9th which included 47 parties. As a result of the sheer numbers, it is a given that no party will “win.” The only possibility for governing is the creation of a coalition with like-minded parties. In the process- deals are made, promises of the past are reversed and compromises required change the very nature of what began as a clear process. Each party had a platform. After the elections they become unrecognizable.

The last time I went to the Israeli voting booth, I was a coward. In my heart-of-hearts, I wanted to vote for the party of Bennett, Shaked and Glick… but I fell victim to Bibi Netanyahu’s last minute plea claiming that he would not be invited to make a government without enough mandates, So I voted for him. Clearly that was not sufficient, and thus we go a second voting round to resolve the next Israeli government election. I also voted for Netanyahu because under his leadership we have remained relatively safe and economically healthy. Additionally, he has opened up relations around the world which have brought Israel much honor at a time when we have been blasphemed beyond any reason or cause by so many nations. He has my total respect for his campaign to make the world face the vile nature of Iran and its intentions globally. The history books will record his courage in the face of so much criticism. That having been said…

One’s vote should be private. Mine always was. But after seeing my “hero” compromise on so many issues, I have decided to bare my soul. I was sickened when Israel exchanged a thousand criminals with blood on their hands for one Israeli citizen held hostage. I am tired of promises broken and secret deals that give power to minorities that do not represent the body politic as a whole. I am tired of excusing Netanyahu’s claim that he believes in a two-state solution, when it cannot possibly be anything other than a ruse. I forgave him for saying it because I felt sure he knew it was an impossibility. I believed that he understood that the world wanted to hear those words… even if they were false. It is only a “little lie” after all. Still, I would have preferred he stand proud and honest about the absolute impossibility of such a solution.

I do not accuse the Prime Minister of wrongdoing in the matters of his court cases. Some of the accusations are blown entirely out of proportion and I do not believe cases will come to any severe conclusions. Those who want to depose him have gone after him with a vengeance. The claims that his wife “rules the roost” imply that he has no substance or convictions. I do not believe that. These are not the reasons why I will change my lifetime pattern of voting for Likud in this election.

In spite of what I have written thus far, I look at the Netanyahu of today and compare him to the statements he has made throughout his career. He has made many compromises along the way. Perhaps that is the way of the real world. It feels as though he is “worn out” and needs an injection of younger and more fervent blood to enable him to stand firm during his next term of office. I fear that without those who are even more to the right than he has proven himself to be, he may fall victim to President Trump’s “peace plan”… even if it sorely compromises his own beliefs.. If all the lovely U.S. initiatives on behalf of Israel are a form of foreplay which will then be used as leverage to make Netanyahu accept a plan which falls short on Israel’s self-interest, then a very strong Knesset full of members not prepared to allow such a compromise will be critical.

On Monday night Naftali Bennett spoke to an English audience… I found him intelligent, knowledgeable and thoughtful. His views paralleled my own and for the second time I have been impressed the goals of his party’s platform. Israel is ready for the influence of the next generation. The gauntlet will not be handed to Ayelet Shaked in this election, but the impact of a healthy number of “Yemina” Knesset members will be felt in the coming years of policy decision making.

It feels very much as though Israel has been “treading water”. Allowing thousands of rockets to fall on the south is unconscionable. Kites flying over Israeli land starting untold forest fires is an unacceptable form of warfare which deserves a creative but deliberate response. The influence of a strong right flank in the next Knesset could change the game plan for future action. Netanyahu has been quite monolithic during his rule. It is time to strengthen his resolve and impact upon his decision-making.

Avigdor Liberman has promised an alliance with Ganz and Lapid. Considering Liberman’s once right-wing views, this makes one doubt the sincerity of his core values. He is clearly angry at Netanyahu for abandoning him. Politics indeed makes strange bedfellows, but this “menage-a-trois” at best seems poorly matched. At worst, they are an example of “selling” one’s soul to try to attain power.

As a “card carrying” Likud member, I was invited to hear the Prime Minister speak at the Maccabia stadium to hear his election pitch. At first glance it seemed he was mirroring Trump’’s favorite form of crowd appealing communication. Upon reflection I found my reaction quite severe. I was being asked to stand in line for hours of security scrutiny to hear a standing Prime Minister make promises about what he plans to do in the coming term of office. Clearly the promises would be about things that he has not accomplished over the past ten plus years in power. I think we have all had enough of promises which cannot be fulfilled and which should have been accomplished if they were indeed ever a priority. If one wants Netanyahu in power (and I do… considering the alternatives ), it must be based not on promises but on trust. That trust can be insured with a Knesset which is strong and which will see that he does not waver off-course.

Not too long ago, one of my avid readers told me that there was no personal opinion ventured in one of my article about the next Lebanon war. It was was not a personal opinion piece, but an evaluation based on the opinions of experts. Today’s look at the coming election is by contrast, about as personal as it gets. Netanyahu is getting close to his “sell-by”date. He needs new blood to make him strong over the next term of office. This time, I will vote my conscience and not “wimp-out!”

As a wonderful friend once said to me… “So now… tell us what you really think!” I have done so today. Please go out and vote your conscience… whatever direction you feel is best. It is critical that Israeli voters do not stay home this time! We must give Israel a clear mandate to move forward on behalf of us all.

About the Author
Born in the Washington DC area, Barbara has been a pro Israel activist for over four decades, having had a radio show in Jerusalem called "Barbara Diamond One on One" , doing in depth interviews which aired in Israel and in the UK. She participated in missions to the USSR to meet with Refuseniks, to Ethiopia with a medical team to help the Jewish villages and to China to open up relations prior to China recognizing the State of Israel, She has been pro-active lobbying congress and helping to start a Pro Israel PAC in Los Angeles. She stays involved through the Jerusalem Press Club attending up to the moment briefings which she would like to share with the readers. Ms. Diamond is the author of the new website - and is the 2018 recipient of the "StandWithUs"-Israel leadership award.
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