Monday, October 27, 2008

Heading Toward Elections in Israel

By making a move toward general elections in Israel, Kadima's Livni is taking a big gamble. The basic gamble is that either voter fraud or general political inertia will not only keep the situation stable but will give Kadima an advantage in the election.

Livni does have a few things going for her. Having just gotten on the job she's actually in the best position to gamble on new elections that she will ever be in, because the general public has yet to be disgusted by her. Backed by a heavy PR campaign focusing on accentuating her positive image, Livni is hoping to ride her new position to an election victory. With Kadima's approval ratings in the toilet, this may be her only chance to secure Kadima's survival.

Naturally the usual way the left prepares for elections is by crying about right wing extremism and arresting a few people for supposedly plotting to commit something that usually falls apart at the trial level. Lately they've raised the bar to actually committing staged attacks, all meant to convince the Israeli public that their imaginary "right wing extremists" are more dangerous than the Arab terrorists they're busy coddling.

Labor has managed its own resurrection game replacing one unpopular leader with one formerly unpopular leader. Barak still enjoys too much public confidence despite his abysmal failure once again. And though he's prepared to push the Saudi peace plan, it's not clear that his credibility has been exhausted again. As the only military leader in the public eye and the political sphere, Barak still holds more credibility than many of his rivals in and out of the party. While Labor has destroyed itself several times over, it may well be in a position for a resurgence as the leading party again.

Likud meanwhile remains the obvious but weak alternative. Netanyahu has always polled better in America than he has in Israel, his speaking style and campaigns lack the shrill tabloid edge so common in Israeli politics making him appear presidential abroad, but weak, cold blooded and effete in Israel. Netanyahu comes into any race with two major deficits, he is a conservative candidate in a country where the press is left wing, and his style is at odds with a Mediterranean country. Additionally Netanyahu comes into the election having lost several elections already and heading a party crippled by Sharon and partially integrated into Kadima. While some Kadima defectors may be returning to the Likud, they're all but certain to sow even more chaos there.

Threatening Shas with elections is a fairly safe bet for Livni, with an Iranian crisis and a possible economic crisis rising the party does not have a lot of appeal for voters right now, and its cynical willingness to trade Yerushalayim will also hurt it. Eli Yishai has always bargained that he can play the devil's game, extract enough concessions and then cite principles and jump off the train just in time. This is a maneuver that Shas has repeatedly managed to pull betraying the country for a few million shekels time and time again, but this time it may not pay off.

Shas' only real cards are its network of institutions and exploiting Mizrahi concerns over inequality that have flared up again in the wake of the Kadima primaries and the defeat of Mofaz. But the blind religious loyalty to Ovadya Yosef and the willingness of Shas voters to buy into the new spin of Shas as the protectors of Yerushalayim should not be underestimated. The remaining religious parties meanwhile are busy with their own internal feuds that have all but put them out of the game.

On the Russian front Avigdor Lieberman's ambitions remain deluded and corrupt despite an attempt to posture as right wing. On the Putin front, Gaydamak is still a real threat but not as much as he once was, after all there are only so many positive headlines that can be bought with showy philanthropy, but while he will likely not be a major player, nothing can really be ruled out either. If he can exploit the internal division in the religious parties to take control of Yerushalayim, Putin will have control over Israel's capital and if his party enters a coalition government, Putin may have his own Israeli minister. Either one is a rather grim prospect.

Either way barring a miracle the elections do not look good. With Peres in power and abusing his constitutional authority forming a non-appeasement coalition government will be trickier than ever. Even if Likud manages to become the dominant party it will face a landscape of post-Zionist parties leaving Netanyahu saddled with Shas all over again. But the odds are rigged toward Labor-Kadima, despite the revelations that both parties are prepared to hand over Jerusalem, the Golan and even accept the Saudi plan.

The problem with Israeli voters is that they have virtually no memories and are willing to accept the same batch of scoundrels after a short waiting period. There may be few second acts in American politics, but Israeli politics is all 2nd, 3rd and 4th acts as the same corrupt leaders take another shot at the top job, turning off many voters and leading to even greater public apathy.

And the real wild card, much as with the US election, is the foreign money which has already stolen more than one election. NGO's and European governments have gotten less shy than ever about funneling money to promote post-Zionist parties and agendas and with massive foreign investment in Israel, the "peace plank" has tended to get its way. Clinton succesfully brought down Netanyahu in favor of Barak, and while under Bush the US may not quite so overly tamper with Israeli elections, there is no question of whom the State Department favors, only a question of what Rice and her minions are willing to do on behalf of Livni and Barak.

And if Kadima-Labor take power again, Israel will likely have run out of time and survival options. A Livni government will do its best to make good its secret international agreements which will include the handover of major parts of Israel and the release of a new wave of terrorists. And even with a McCain administration in DC will likely be unable to do anything useful about Iran. As for an Obama administration, that will simply mean an open door for dismantling Israel at express speeds.

If the elections fail to save Israel, it will be up to the modern day Macabees to do so.


Lemon said...

Just as there are Americans who will vote for filth and junk on the left, so Israelis would think of voting for Kadima the junk and trash party that is murdering Israel?

What a shame the world has gone so far down the toilet without so much as a whimper.

Sultan Knish said...

well the left's usual approach is to destroy the opposition leaving the public with little choice

Rosalie and David said...

Although in the past I believe you have had correct political instincts, I believe that Shas was not being two-faced when they jumped ship, because of Jerusalem. I believe Shas under Eli Yishai is a different Shas than under Deri. It has shown itself by not entering the Disengagement Coalition (unlike UTJ and NU/NRP). Some people are mad they didn;t drop out of the coalition with Olmert, but looking back if they did then he could have bought off UTJ and brought in Meretz sealing Jerusalem's fate.

I believe that with elections three months away we are still in for some surprises. I for one live here and sense more of a change now than before the last elections. The poll numbers just released have been found to purposely skewed (see IMRA) and this is because I believe the Erev Govt. is concerned with a serious loss to Likud-Shas-NU/NRP.
Something else to think about is a possibility of some joint lists to ensure a Right Wing victory (Likud-NU/NRP or NU/NRP-Shas).
Of course you are correct that if The Erev Rav pulls off a win the Hashmoniam with HaShem's help will need to repeat history.

Keli Ata said...

If I were voting in Israel I'd probably lean towards Netanyahu, largely because he doesn't rant and rave, raise his voice and seems reasonable.

Livni I don't know...still too close to Olmert. Her association with him seems similiar to Bush's relationship with Condi Rice. Two peas in a pod and backstabbers when it comes to Israel.

Gaydamak? NO WAY. The last thing Israel needs is a Russian G-d father answering to Putin.

But I put my hope in the modern day Maccabees.

Sultan Knish said...

Eli Yishai is just as bad as Deri if not worse. He clearly signaled that Shas would be willing to enter for the right price, that price wasn't met. Just as this time around the price wasn't met. And naturally the spin is that this time Shas is standing on principle. It's not.

Shas under Yishai stuck in the coalition knowing full well Yerushalayim was being negotiated away, but there's always the "If we didn't do it, someone else would have" which is the prototypical excuse every Israeli crook from all walks of life uses when he gets caught

Shas is not right wing, it cares only about money. It will deal with anyone who provides that money. Yes UTJ is arguably just as bad, but Shas has the seats to actually make a real difference, and it was thanks to Shas' willingness to sacrifice everything for money that Oslo was even a reality.

Anonymous said...

Very depressing analysis, with a rabbid left wing media to brainwash people who don't read English on the Internet, a school and university sysem worse than the 60's in America, what do we have left? Commonsense? Anyone who vote Kadima must have his/her head examined. YNET already started the campaign to "soften our Tsipi's image" with a story of a marriage proposal and a dimond ring from Quebec. Totally crazy! Only HaShem can save us from ourselves.

Scipio said...

Netanyahu will win a resounding victory. The Israeli voting public will throw Kadima back on the dung heap where it belongs. Hopefully Olmert will be rotting in prison (he really deserves to be executed) by this time next year.

Shiloh said...

Olmert has done zero, except talk talk talk and give away nothing. This is why the witch hunt against him. I don't agree with his morals, but he is a master politician, second to none. As far a modern day macabees go, Shabak would crush it in a second. Don't kid yourself, the left, anti-Jewish machine has infiltrated every group that want's a Jewish Israel. So we can dream on, but in all reality, the ship will sink to a point where we beg haShem for help. Only then will He, blessed be He, step in.

Keli Ata said...

To Anony--

I remember reading the exit polls after Olmert's PM election. A lot of the people voting had only been in the country for a couple of months and admitted to knowing little if anything about Israeli politics. Many were influenced by pamphlets Kadima put out.

I think Kadima targets these new, non-Hebrew or English speaking immigrants.

But I suppose as long as they have virtually instant citizenship they're allowed to vote.

Same problem in the US with uneducated and uninformed voters.

OT: I read that Obama wants to make it legal for illegal immigrants in the US to vote.


Keli Ata said...

Another thought on Netanyahu...I hope the Israeli public doesn't view him in the same way many Americans view Ralph Nader...a perpetual candidate who runs for office and loses.

Devash said...

Netanyahu already was Prime Minister. He presided over the Wye Plantation give-away of Hevron. Nobody trusts him, not even his own party. Likud is so desperate for votes, that it is courting support among the so-called xian zionists with the hint of favors in store. (See )

G-d forbid that we should have anyone less than Mashiach at the helm after this. Anyone else will be a disaster. The whole sorry, stinking, corrupt system has got to go!

All the politicians out! And good riddance!!

Sultan Knish said...

Mashiach would be nice but he isn't here yet, so we either choose from the politicians or wind up with a Kadima figure who will be a good deal worse than Netanyahu

Shiloh said...

Devash, you are correct, they must go, but we at the same time will do everything to reject whom haShem will choose. Sadly, we will have to go the hard way. The Mashiakh will not be revealed again until we are crying to haShem for help. Don't hold your breath at anyrate, it's going to be a very rough ride.

Keli Ata said...

But in the time before Mashiach arrives...a good leader is essential to prevent the slaughter of innocents.

Didn't know Netanyahu was PM before.

Just from my limited perspective it seems every leader since Sharon has been a disaster. He set something evil loose when he gave away Gush Katif. I don't know...perhaps changing borders is a bigger sin than I realize.

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