The Israeli elections: putting an end to blackmail

Over the past few weeks we read all kinds of promptings from all kinds of sources how the right should unite. Torah nationalists together, secular nationalists together, then all of them together, along with Zehut which is a party that could satisfy them all. Not to be overlooked was the call for the right that is not nationalist, though it claims it is, to unite: New Right, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Likud together in one bloc. And then, it was supposed, the two blocs, the nationalist bloc and the fake nationalist bloc, could unite to form a government and block the left, which is as fake left as the right is fake right, from running the show.

These promptings were justified by arguments that if the right does not form the government, Israel will wind up ceding more land to the so-called Palestinian thugs that run Gaza, Judea and Samaria in a peace deal foisted on her by the Americans. We are at a critical junction, it is argued, with the friendliest U.S. administration in history still opting for a two-state solution which would prove hard for a Likud government to resist, and which a left government under Gantz and Lapid would embrace. But these arguments hold no water. They are the time-worn arguments that have for so long blackmailed the Israeli public and held the Israeli political system to ransom. It is time to put an end to the circus.

Right and left mean nothing. They are convenient terms to simplify political choices and make life easier for the pundits who earn big salaries bamboozling the public. They enable party bosses to keep control of their clients by blackmailing the public into voting according to the slogan “don’t waste your vote”. People wind up voting for parties they do not believe in, while the results are never the ones promised. Did Jewish Home get any portfolios in the last government that had clout over the security situation? Did they manage to persuade the government to put an end to the terror coming from Gaza and the PA? Will it make any difference after the elections when the time comes to distribute ministerial portfolios? The Likud heavyweights will continue to dominate the government, the self-designated religious Orthodox will continue to control civil life and channel funds to their favored institutions, the situation will continue to be managed while Jews are murdered in their streets and homes and forests and their fields burn, and everyone will complain there is nothing they can do because of the constraints of the coalition, while they brandish the menace of how worse things would be if the left got into power.

Right and left mean nothing because in a modern society everyone is for both change and preservation, progress and tradition. In Israel the cleavage between right and left is, in addition, coded terminology for approaches to the security situation. But in fact, as the past near decade has shown, the right does what the left says it will do: talk about a two-state solution which everyone knows is finished, manage the perennial insecurity where Jews are murdered for living in the Jewish state with selective retaliation that carries no real penalties, eventually even cede more territory in exchange for a false peace. In fact, the right will continue to bury its head in the sand, hoping for a day when Israel’s thoroughly anti-Semitic neighbors will come around and become a partner in peace. In short, more blackmail.

If the right had had any sense, it would have dissolved itself and its leading members would have joined a party that offers a clear, principled and logical solution to Israel’s perennial security situation while making room for everyone, religious and secular, charitable and entrepreneurial, based on a program that promises liberty in all fields. Fortunately, there is such a party running in the current election. It is called Zehut, though it is blackballed from many polls and media discussions because to include it would shake up the political discourse of left and right and cause people to think outside the box. Instead, all discussion turns on whether that party, like others, will pass the minimum threshold required to get seats in the Knesset.

If all the wise men and women of the right really felt that the security situation trumps everything, they should present a united front under the banner of one political party that calls for the extension of sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the defeat and unconditional surrender of Israel’s enemies and the expulsion of a population that is unremitting in its genocidal aim of liquidating the only Jewish state and its citizens. Both Torah nationalists and secular nationalists should be in agreement on this, just as both should be in agreement that Israel is a Jewish state, the homeland of the Jewish people, an affirmation that has nothing undemocratic about it. And the religious right should support a program that calls for the separation of synagogue and state, because if people are going to understand the pertinence of the Torah they cannot be coerced into doing so.

But the Jewish right will not do this because they like the horse-trading that goes on before the elections in order to justify the horse-trading that goes on afterwards. They like the extreme proportional representation that encourages this farce because they like the power that the electoral system confers on party bosses and all their underlings, down to the clients and clowns who depend for life support on the funds and power that dribble down to them. And they like this charade because that is what Jews have been doing politically ever since they left Egypt, turning on leaders as soon as they elect them, every Jew a Korach and a would-be prince in waiting.

Moshe Feiglin is right. It is a disgrace the way the left has hounded Prime Minister Netanyahu and dragged his family through the mud simply because they don’t like the man. It is a disgrace that they think that receiving a gift of champagne and cigars could lead him to betray Israel’s interests. It is a disgrace that the left struts about thinking it embodies all that is morally correct in the world. Netanyahu should be criticized, but on political grounds. He should be opposed for not offering Israelis a clear path out of the matzav to which the country has adapted itself like one giant Stockholm syndrome, dragging the entire Jewish diaspora with it.

No issue is more important for Israel and for Jews everywhere than the need to put an end to this ongoing nightmare where Jews are murdered for living in their homeland. Nor should any Jew have to visit Israel with the thought in the back of his or her mind that he or she is taking his or her life in his or her hands. You have nothing to fear, we are constantly told, but who wants to be murdered for walking in the Jerusalem forest as Ori Ansbacher was? Who wants to visit the Old City and be told by Israeli soldiers and policemen that only Muslims are allowed on the Temple Mount? Who wants to defend Israel day after day if Israelis will not defend themselves? Blackmail has its limits, but it only stops working when people refuse to pay up. It is time to refuse.

About the Author
Stephen Schecter is a sociologist, poet and writer who specializes in telling stories from the Hebrew Bible. His work can be seen at
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