Naftali Bennet is convincing me

When it comes to who I would vote for in the upcoming Israeli elections, my choice has been quite clear: Tzipi Livni.

This is because of several reasons: she seems more serious about the peace process than Shelly Yachmovich of the Labor party. She is an established political figure compared to a lot of others in the left, she also seems very serious about the issues of sharing the burden of national service with others who don’t go to the army or perform national service duties ie. majority of the haredi religious minority and Israeli Arabs. Add to all that is her experience as a foreign minister, a role in which I believe she performed well.

But now thanks to Habayit Hayehudi party’s head Naftali Bennett, I am starting to have doubts about my choice.

I have been watching his debates and his interviews over the last number of months. He believes that we need to build more settlements and to annex 60% of the West Bank for a variety of reasons, including to defend ourselves against fundamentalists in Egypt, and yes, you guessed it right, because of Iran. Watch the scary Iranian tank thunder across the border in his party’s promotional video.

So let me get this straight: he is basically saying that houses full of Israeli women and children in annexed parts of the West Bank will defend us against Iran’s “invading army” ?

So if in what he believes to be the likely scenario of Iran’s tanks reaching Iran’s border, then invading Iraq, then invading Jordan, we are going to throw Israeli women and children living in annexed parts of West Bank at those tanks in order to defend ourselves. Otherwise why else would Bennet see their presence as “contribution” to our security against Iran’s invading tanks? what other security contribution would they make to the state of Israel?

Sorry, that is not how we operate.

Houses full of women and children in annexed parts of West Bank are not for security, because the Israeli Defense Forces does not use its own population as human shield. Bennet is using security as an excuse. He wants to annex 60% of West Bank so that he fulfills his religious dream. This is about religion, not about security. If only army bases were in the West Bank, like there were only army bases in south Lebanon before we withdrew (and no settlements) then I would have had more time for the security argument. But not when it comes to Bennet’s arguments regarding the West Bank.

But you could say Bennet is not alone, Netanyahu and Lieberman have been saying the same.

Yes they have. But they are not as religious as Bennet. Also neither have called for annexation of 60% of the West Bank. Yes, I am going to say it: compared to Bennet, Netanyahu and Lieberman are more moderate. I can’t even believe that I am saying it, but its true.

I saw a short clip of his debate with Yossi Beilin (in Hebrew starting from 0:47 minute), one of the chief architects of the Oslo peace process. Bennett doesn’t mince his words, he says that Beilin should apologize for the Oslo accords and the “disaster which it has brought for Israel”.

Note the words “apologize” and “disaster”.

Imagine if we would have still controlled Gaza and all of the West Bank. With the Israeli tax payer funding all the security and food costs for all the 4 million Palestinians and with Israel being a pariah state. Bennet prefers that to Oslo which although has had its challenges, has made life better than before for Israel’s citizens and for some Palestinians.

Now Bennet wants to reverse as much as he can of that, by annexing 60% of the West Bank.

He will do well to remember the words “apologize” and “disaster” as he will need the first while we in Israel will be subject to the second.

Naftali Bennet, with his meteoric rise and his policies is convincing me, that my country is facing strategic disaster. I haven’t even begun to describe the opposition of his party to Gay marriage.

Suddenly, Tzipi Livni looks politically less attractive. I need to be honest, I am now more inclined to vote Meretz. Naftali Bennet is convincing me.

About the Author
Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian-Israeli author, commentator and lecturer. He teaches the Contemporary Iranian Politics course at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya. Mr. Javedanfar has guest lectured in five languages (Persian, Hebrew, English, Spanish and Portuguese) at more than 20 Universities around the world. He is the coauthor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's biography, 'The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran.'