Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Elections 2015. The Day After

This election has been a wild one. Some thoughts on the day after:
1. Polsters. Oh boy – look how they got it wrong! Even if people changed their minds at the last moment, why were the exit polls so significantly incorrect?
And the questions: Did they mess up because they are unprofessional and only cover certain selective sectors?
Or much worse, was there a wishful thinking, a bias for the Left to win? If that is true, then almost certainly it backfired, and spurred the Right to victory.

2. Newspaper bias – This election has seen terrible newspaper bias. I am used to it from Haaretz, but this time Ynet exceeded Haaretz in their constant battery of Netanyahu. Don't get me wrong – I don’t love the guy – but can a newspaper be so blatantly partisan and still consider itself a newspaper? 

The night before the election, Ynet had a picture of Chief Rabbi Herzog alongside President Herzog and Buji. The tagline" The grandfather – Chief Rabbi; The father – President; the son – Who are you Buji Herzog?" What a cheap ploy! Ynet, throughout this election season have released negative stories about Netanyahu.

Rav Yoel bin Nun reflected and said that this election has seen demonization of Netanyahu as a failed leader who has deeply betrayed and endangered Israel, as reaching the levels of verbal incitement during the period of Yitzchak Rabin. He may be correct.

3. The dirty election – Leading on from this, why was this entire election "Just not Bibi" or "It's us or them?" Why did the Likud not even release a manifesto of its political views? Nothing? Why was the entire campaign about personal slurs and scaremongering? We all have to wake up the day after and be led by these people. It is destructive, irresponsible, dishonest, cheap. Can we find another way? (BTW, from what I saw Yesh Atid were pretty responsible in this zone… saying what they believed without blacklisting and insulting others.)

4. V15 – Why is it legal?
I am sure that most of us saw the ads on FB by V15; TLV was plastered with their ads. They were excellent emotive, effective. (If you don’t know who they are see this article link), But it is total absurdity! Since when can a foreign paid campaign give smooth but vague messaging about a better future saying that "the leadership must be changed" and that Bibi is useless (covering their tracks by not saying who specifically to elect)? Why is that legal? Political parties have a law to control them and limit abuse of the election. (It is an outdated law and certainly needs a huge overhaul.) Can any non-party organization use foreign money (lots of it) to manipulate an election. To me it sounds highly unethical. Why is it legal?

One other thing about the V15 ads and the negative electioneering. They made out as if everything is dark, gloomy and oppressive in an Israel lead by Netanyahu. Well, I too dislike his leadership style, his friends and many of his values and actions. BUT Israel is a free, prosperous, relatively safe society. It is a huge mistake and highly irresponsible, just to win an election, to paint everything black, exaggerate and lie to push your point. I think that now we understand that it is also counterproductive.

5. Bibi – the Election king (who are you Bibi?)
And having said point 2,3,and 4 it is INCREDIBLE that Netanyahu won with such a margin. He is truly an election genius, a political wizard.

And yet, may I add that he has taken a severe knock in this campaign.

He has been lambasted by Mossad chiefs and military heads, by fellow cabinet members, for fearmongering, an inept handling of the Gaza war, an inability to take brave decisions, a lack of forward thinking. Is it true? Is he a responsible leader? How much is real? Who are you Bibi?

He has been exposed as indulgent and portrayed as aloof. How can we feel that he cares about us common people?

How can Bibi – even after his victory – show us that he is a worthy principled leader? I think he really needs to? I hope that very little of what was said (by serious people) is true. It is deeply worrying.

Bibi did not involve any fellow Likud minister in his campaign. (Yisrael Katz ran it, but he was the sole face.) Bibi has successfully pushed out Gidon Saar, Cachlon and every competitor from the Likud. Who will succeed him? Can he foster a new generation of leadership. Will his leadership of Likud be challenged?

5. The Arab List – is the 3rd largest Knesset party. Who is prepared to take them seriously? How long can Jewish Israel pretend that the Arab Israelis are not there? How long can we sideline them? I was hoping that they could be incorporated into a future government (I dare you Bibi! … it will be the greatest surprise of your political career!) Israeli Arabs feel disenfranchised. For our collective future, we want them to feel more Israeli, less alienated, to feel more equal, to gain full services and excellent education, to be integrated more. For Israel's future, we need this. If this is done, I think they will reciprocate by showing more loyalty with Israel. Am I dreaming? Is this possible?
And besides this, will Bibi , like Ruby Rivlin, make some gestures to bridge-building with the Israeli Arab population, offering his hand to them and stating that he is leader of all Israeli citizens and will take their interests seriously?

6. The county is drifting rightwards. Will there ever be a Left-wing government in the foreseeable future?

7. Buji and Tzippy did the impossible. Look what they did… they created a viable leadership party out of a failure. Their economic plan is really interesting. I hope Buji stays as head of the opposition. I think he could be an excellent leader of the future (voice notwithstanding.) We need a powerful opposition to put up a liberal fight to what might be one of Israel's most right-wing governments. Possibly even Buji can move a step rightwards and win the next election … maybe w/out Tzippy!)

8. Yachad – Eli Yishai's party has (hopefully) not passed the threshold. I say hopefully because I would hate to see the Baruch Marzel in the Knesset. But they actually took 4 seats from HaBayit Hayehudi. Right Wing Zionist rabbis who backed Yishai due to some disfavor with Bennet or Ayelet Shaked should understand that they lost their party 4 seats.

9. What is going to be with Bibi-Obama for the next 2 years? Can they make a "sulcha"?  

10. Electoral Reform Can Cachlon insist on reform of the electoral system? Can we make a law that ensures  elections only every 4 years and not before? How can we prevent the inner wrangling of parties within the government and the cabinet and the political blackmailing? We desperately need that mechanism in places as soon as possible.
Lots of other thoughts… maybe in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Re Yesh Atid and the end of Point 3:

They sent out SMSs on election day stating:

"Netanyahu and Herzog will pay the Haredim... Vote according to your values."

Seems pretty negative to me.

Anonymous said...

you say: "Rav Yoel bin Nun reflected and said that this election has seen demonization of Netanyahu as a failed leader who has deeply betrayed and endangered Israel, as reaching the levels of verbal incitement during the period of Yitzchak Rabin." This is not exactly what Rav Yoel bin Nun said - he said that such demonization has not been seen SINCE that that was against Rabin. I think this is an important distinction. To claim that Netanyahu is demonized as much as Rabin z"l was is quite an irresponsible exaggeration.

Former talmid said...

Glaring in its absence from your thoughtful comments is any reference to the occupation, which seems the rather crucial elephant in the room of these elections - in the left being afraid to mention it, and Netanyahu declaring his intention to continue Israel's hurtling towards moral disaster on the eve of the election.

To quote Peter Beinart-: "We know in our bones, even without Meir Dagan telling us, that Israel is headed toward moral disaster. We know that a non-democratic Israel is a dead Israel. We know that if Israel makes permanent an occupation that reeks of colonialism and segregation, an America that is becoming ever more black and brown will eventually turn against it. We know the BDS one-staters are winning. We know that if Israel continues on its current path, our children will one day live in a world without a Jewish state. We know that our grandparents’ generation of Diaspora Jews will be remembered for having helped birth the first Jewish country in 2,000 years, and that ours will be remembered for having helped destroy it."

But then I guess there's only so much self-honesty that you can declare when you live in a West Bank apartheid colony (sorry Gush Etzion yishuv) where the Palestinian who lives in the orchard outside your security fence lives under martial law yet you get to vote and have full Israeli citizenship rights.

Maybe it's time I cancel my donation to Yeshivat Har Etzion sooner or later...

Former talmid said...

Is this where you want to bring up your kids?

In Alon Shvut-: 64% voted for racist, populist demagogue Bennett, 24% for Mr burn-your-bridges-with-the-world racist demagogue Netanyahu, 6% for ludicrously uber-racist Yachad

So yes, (minus the 1% who voted for chareidi parties) just 5% voted for centre or left parties.

What an enlightened neighborhood!

Daniel Tarlow said...

Rav Alex some interesting points.

I agree with the point about demonising of Bibi and also thought that the left is becoming what they accused the right of in those days.

In terms of the arab parties, the main problem is that too many of them try to represent either the palestinians of the PA - not the Israeli arabs who elected them - or the extreme anti Israel muslims who do not want to recognise our country. How can they be included as part of the government. Thatcher would never has asked Sinn Fein to join her, its almost the same.

When the arab parties are represented by more people like Mohammad Zoabi, who actually love and are proud of Israel then they will be accepted as partners in government - as are the arab mks in Likud and Labour. The sooner this happens the better. I think that the rhetoric of the arab MKs generally do more harm to Jewish Arab relations than anything else. More Mohamad Zoabis I say.

Alex Israel said...

Dear Former Talmid, whoever you are.

I am disturbed by the ad-hominem attack and the bitter tone of your comments. Things can be said nicely. We are clearly friends. Lets remain that way.

I am glad that you care so deeply about Israel, the soul of the Jewish people and the moral tone of Alo"sh.

And to the essence of your comments, I think you simplify things.

I didn't observe the occupation as a significant talking point in this election. The economy - Yes. Iran - Yes. Netanyahu and his wife - Yes. Occupation - No. Maybe that is a problem for Israel. We Israelis do need to talk about it. But it isn't my lack of "self-honesty"; talk to the media and the politicians. And why should the left be "afraid" to mention it? It is their responsibility (and that of the right.

I hear from what you are saying that you feel that the occupation is the most serious moral stain on Israel's soul and also endangers the future of Israel.

I too don't love the occupation. I am deeply disturbed by the limits on Palestinian's rights and their dreams of natioanl self-realization. I would like to see those aspirations realised.

I disagree with your description of Israel's policy as "apartheid". I dont think Israel is rascist. I see that Palestinians have many many rights and many freedoms. Most live under their own self-governance. Clearly, some they do not have. My Palestinian neighbours can travel freely w/out roadblocks to their children in Bethlehem and their cousins in Hebron. They vote in the PA elections (but the PA haven't held elections for a while.) It is not useful to cast the WB as a dire cesspit of suffering. Many Palestinians I talk with see the PA corruption as the prime problem more than occupation. They are more worried by their beleaguered economy rather than Israeli control.

I would like to see a political resolution in the WB. But honestly we are quite stuck. In negotiations the Israeli govt and the PA have not managed to agree on a middle ground, despite Israel offering 96% of WB territory. Israelis are rightfully concerned that if the WB is yielded and a creation of a Palestinian State , that it is susceptible to a Hamas takeover just like Gaza, that will not offer rights to the Palestinians, and also become a launching pad for rockets to Israel. We have no easy answers; few difficult ones. We are quite stuck here. And I am talking about the average Yesh Atid or even Herzog supporter.

Herzog said that Gush Etzion and other blocs would remain in Israeli hands i an future agreement. So your antipathy for me and my lack of self-honesty is not welcome. I think I am as self-honest as the next guy.

So that regards the occupation.

Regarding Alon Shevut, it is a great place to live. Having said that, I dont sign off on my neighbours political views. I know I am at odds with most of them. As an adult we rarely find a perfect place to live.

There are lots of issues in deciding where to live. Much is good there. Many of my neighbours are extremely anti-Arab. My kids get a better education, more nuanced, more sensitive education than I ever got in the UK and better than many of my friends' kids in other places in Israel. In our home, we supplement their local education with other values.

Nonetheless to describe Bibi and Bennet as illegitimate is mudslinging. You think he is uber-rascist; Israel sees him as a legitimate lawmaker.

Come and visit us. I would enjoy talking to you.

Former talmid said...

No upset intended. As the splits inevitably widen between the humanistic/humane/civilised Jewish world and the militaristic camp of the modern-day Bar Kochba-esque Judeans, people will feign upset.

Anonymity is necessary regrettably. The orthodox English-speaking Jewish world is still a few years behind the secular Jewish world in allowing free speech on the 14th Principle of Faith of modern day Judaism in the righteousness of Israel.

This is a Torah blog, so I don't want to waste your time on an inherently futile debate. However, whole swathes of the Jewish world are increasingly despairing of Israel. Bibi & Bennet are not illegitimate, but they are openly racist and they do bring the Am Kadosh into disrepute. The fact that they get huge numbers of votes is not a justification for their legitimacy, rather it is a proof of the disintegrating failure of Israeli society, and the religious society in particular.

Alon Shvut is no different to any other part of Yehuda v'Shomron - same mix of "state land" and building on stolen private Palestinian land; same obstacle to potential Palestinian territorial contiguity; same differential rights for Jews & Arabs within locale. Of course Arabs don't have no rights, but they do have different rights. The Labor Zionist movement's complicity in 90% of the West Bank settlement project is part of the problem, not a justification.

I don't mean to shock. Jews who are waking up to reality tend not to stay so religious as there is little place in the Jewish world. Those who stay religious have to keep quiet. Hence anonymity. Sincere apologies for arguable cowardice.

With greatest respect and humility,

Former talmid.

Avi Spodek said...


The blog post was great, but I'm really more intrigued by your dialogue with "Former talmid".

It seems that for Israelis, this election was basically a vote on a motion of no confidence, writ national referendum. Even had Bibi lost, not much would really change too quickly for most Israelis.

But here in the US I think the stakes were much higher. as a Bibi loss would have radically shifted the relationship between US and Israeli Jews.

The POTUS could spin the loss as, "Even Israelis reject Bibi"!. The pact with Iran would have more easily passed - even as rumored - with Republicans paralyzed to do anything about it.

JStreet could claim that it is actually more in line with Israeli politics than a toothless AIPAC, which ends up looking awfully like a society of dual-loyalists.

"Former talmid" is obviously not much of a fan of Zionism but he is not unique amongst many young, liberal Jewish Americans today who struggle with the moral and ethical shortcomings of a state that claims to represent them.

But while the schism between US and Israeli Jews continues to grow and already seems irreparable, the ripple-effect of a Bibi loss could have been so fast and so intense as to seem catastrophic.

Alex Israel said...

Thanks Avi.