Barry Shaw

Why Herzog lost

One of the reasons that the Zionist Union of Herzog/Livni dropped from a lead of 4 points to lose the election was because they ran a campaign of “We or them” without explaining to the Israeli public who “We” were.

They failed to bring in candidates representing the “We” of Israeli society. No kippa-wearing people. No Russian or prominent Anglo or French immigrants. No people from the periphery of Israeli society.

The “We” became alien, unrepresentative of the majority of the Israeli voting public.

The Herzog/Livni camp ran a campaign of fear of Bibi, while Bibi ran a campaign of fear of a nuclear Iran. The voters bought Bibi’s message, not Herzog’s.  Zionist Union campaign manager, Reuven Adler, who inherited this fear slogan, admitted after the defeat that he disliked this strategy from the beginning.

The ugly Israeli media won the election for Bibi.

For a month, the Israeli media, with outside help, mounted an ugly campaign against Benjamin Netanyahu. Everything was permissible in this effort to bring him down. Defending Israel in Congress was considered a sin. Speaking up against the Iranian nuclear deal was considered ‘fear-mongering.’

The left-wing media went after Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, accusing them both of living an extravagant life style. Everything was fair game. This despite the fact that former Labour Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, was shown to have maintained the presidential residence at a considerably greater cost to the tax payer than the prime minister’s household.

The personal attacks were headed by Noni Moses, the owner of the Yediot Achronot newspaper and online social media, but other media outlets joined in the hunt against Bibi, his wife and household.

One highlight of the hate campaign was their success in staging a primetime televised press conference with a worker at the Bibi household with two lawyers throwing who threw petty accusations against Bibi’s wife during the height of the election campaigning.

The Herzog/Livni message regarding a peace process with the Palestinians was confusing. While Herzog stated that Israel’s security border would be the Jordan River the Israeli public was sufficiently savvy to realize that no current Palestinian leader would accept Israeli security presence on their territory post Palestinian state agreement. Livni spoke about east Jerusalem as being part of Israel’s eastern border, but few Israelis accept an eastern border being in the streets and alleyways of the nation’s capital.

Amos Yadlin, touted to be the Zionist Union candidate for Defense Minister, spoke of a three-tier proposal for peace. This relied on initial direct negotiations with the Palestinians before reaching out to the regional Sunni Arab states when these talks collapse, or run into difficulties. Then, with the failure, appeal to the international community that Israel would not be to blame for yet another breakdown in negotiations with a rejectionist Palestinian leadership.

Clearly the Israeli public found the Zionist Union unconvincing on security. Neither did the ZU convince voters they would handle the economy any better than Bibi.

Herzog recruited Professor Trachtenberg into his ranks with the promise that he would be his Finance Minister. Herzog, however, expressed his readiness to give this post to Moshe Kachlon, who headed the Kulanu party, as part of his potential coalition. Knowing that Bibi would also give this ministry to Kachlon, the voters felt they had a better world with Bibi stronger on security as Prime Minister partnered with Kachlon, who had a convincing record of economic reforms in the past Knesset.

The intervention of an army of Obama presidential campaigners, hiding behind the State Department sponsored One Voice NGO, landing into Tel Aviv annoyed the Israeli voter and rebounded against Herzog as the country renounced the foreign interference into the election process under the V15 banner of ‘Anyone but Bibi.’

The Israeli public was so offended by the negative campaigning that they swung behind a leader they saw as being victimized for being strong for Israel.

They were so affected by the ugly media that they overturned a 4 seat deficit to a 6 point victory. The intense negativity rebounded against a left-wing media and the Herzog party.

The media will find it hard, if not impossible, to recover from the damage and loss of trust by a public upon which they depend for their living.

Meanwhile, Herzog and Livni are confined to the Knesset opposition benches, and Netanyahu will be in power long after Obama vacates the White House.


Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the


About the Author
Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is also the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism,' '1917. From Palestine to the Land of Israel, 'BDS for IDIOTS,' and his latest work 'A Tale of Love and Destiny,' the dramatic life of a Jewish heroine.
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