Likud weakened itself by attacking Habayit Hayehudi
Were the recent elections an earthquaking change? An upheaval? A respected publicist’s analysis translated from the Hebrew “Besheva” weekly.
And even if President Peres tries his best to avoid it, he will be forced to give Netanyahu, albeit a Netanyahu whose wings have been clipped, the task of forming the next government.
And while a great many lessons will be learned from these election results, in this column, we will limit ourselves to elucidating how Netanyahu brought them upon himself.
The big surprise of the election was, of course, the massive transfer of votes to Yair Lapid that occurred, according to pundits, during the last days before the voting took place – and at the expense of the Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party, among others.
Bennett lost those votes – which were evidence of an unprecedented level of support from the secular population – due to targeted hits “below the belt” from the Likud, apparently with Netanyahu’s tacit approval, and possibly at his initiative.
And that’s how the Likud shot itself in the leg.
The Likud did not gain any Knesset seats by mounting a smear campaign against Rabbi Dov Lior (Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, ed.) and a concomitant character assassination of candidate Orit Strook of Hevron. Quite the contrary – it caused voters to leave the nationalist camp straight for the arms of Lapid’s amorphous Yesh Atid party. The Likud’s propaganda machine resurrected the old “shooting within the troop carrier” custom back from the days of Shamir and Sharon, ceaselessly aiming relentless machine gun fire on Bennett and the Jewish Home party – and it almost lost the election.
The Likud lost many other votes because of its immoral, foolish and unacceptable long term way of running things. These votes would have made the difference between the current situation where it is barely keeping its head above water electorally versus achieving Netanyahu’s goal of obtaining a strong base for a stable government.
Netanyahu had lost seats to Bennett, not because of the latter’s superior – and evident – abilities, but because of his own actions in distancing the ideological elements of the Likud. He left them no home other than the “Jewish Home”.
There is no use going into all the sorry details, but let us state only the most obvious of those errors: the “two states for two peoples” speech; the construction freeze that included Jerusalem; allowing his enemy Ehud Barak to work against him by persecuting the residents of Judea and Samaria with every measure his control of the military government there could allow, from midnight expulsions and destruction to banishment and exile; throwing the Edmond Levy Report into the dustbin; drastic limits to Jewish property rights in Hevron; not really responding to the PA statehood challenge in the United Nations.
Netanyahu’s judgment is faulty if he did not realize that events of such magnitude would exact an electoral price. And if he thought that in exchange for giving up the spiritual identity and ideological core of his movement – its very soul – he would gain the admiration of the “peace camp” – he does not have a proper grasp of reality. If he thought that he would gain international approval by sacrificing party loyalists on the altar of “moderation”, flexibility and pragmatism, he committed an egregious mistake. In fact, in a conversation between the two, French President Sarkozy called Netanyahu a “liar” and U.S. President Obama mourned the “bitter fate” that forced them to be in frequent contact.
The Likud likes to call itself the “ruling party”. May we remind it that there was a previous ruling party, one that still uses the initials “EMT” (read as “emet”, Hebrew for truth), that was defeated by the campaign slogan “So then tell us the truth!”. Why did that happen? Because the EMT party, Labor, lied and lied, until the sheer weight of its lies brought it down.
There is no doubt that had Netanyahu not told every world leader and every media personality or political figure here in Israel exactly what each one wanted to hear – always intending to do nothing of the sort – had he spoken and acted with clarity and integrity according to the Jewish and Zionist truths in which he believes, the hostile world and the hallucinatory left would not have stopped attacking him. But they would have given him their grudging respect. Israelis would not have developed the prevalent apathy and disinterest towards the Likud and its leader that observers noted before election eve. Activists would not have discovered that Likud voters do not expect anything from their party and don’t believe its promises. That is what really cost the Likud the seats that make the whole difference now.
Netanyahu’s third term will give him another chance to return to his roots, if his party is still able to do so and if it will let him continue to be at its helm. Because if the Likud continues on the way it did during the campaign and continues to blame others for its problems, it will find itself where the previous ruling party ended up – and there will be those who will take its place. The key to this return is in the hands of the wonderful nationalist core that the Likud itself chose for its Knesset list and in the hands of the rightist parties that are outside it.
Hope springs eternal.
Report: Bennett Underwent Polygraph Test Over Leaks on Bibi
Jewish Home chairman underwent a polygraph test in 2009, after Netanyahu suspected that he had leaked sensitive information.
By Arutz Sheva Staff
Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett underwent a polygraph test in 2009, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu suspected that he had leaked sensitive information to Channel 10 television.
According to the Sunday evening report on Channel 2 News, Bennett was found to be telling the truth and passed the test. The Jewish Home chairman would not comment on this when asked by Channel 2.
The classified information in question is tied to the so-called “Bibi Tours Affair”. Channel 10 reported at the time that Netanyahu accepted funding from private sources for trips for him and his family while in public office.
A few months ago, then-State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss submitted two findings to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein regarding the allegations.
The Channel 2 report on Sunday evening came following a report in the Haaretz daily, which said that Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, had vetoed the Jewish Home’s joining of the coalition because of Bennett’s alleged leaks about Netanyahu.
The Netanyahus reportedly lost trust in Bennett because of the supposed leaks. Netanyahu’s strained relationship with Bennett is an open secret, although Bennett denies it. According to persistent accounts, Bennett left his job as Netanyahu’s chief of staff because he did not get along with Sarah, who is said by the media to be a dominant force in Netanyahu’s decision making apparatus.
Officials in the Likud rejected on Sunday the claims that the tension between the Netanyahu family and Bennett would lead to the Jewish Home’s being left out of the coalition, saying, “Despite the personal smear campaign, the Prime Minister will continue to operate using relevant considerations and aims to establish as broad a government as possible. Such a coalition will also include the Jewish Home.”
During the elections, the Likud carried on a smear campaign of falsified character assassination against Bayit Yehudi candidates that was an integral part of their TV and radio ads. Part of this campaign included ads that portrayed some of the Jewish Home’s candidates as “extremists” and “sexist”.
If this campaign was not enough, after the results of the elections were publicized, Netanyahu chose to first speak with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, whose centrist party became the second largest party in the Knesset, meeting him a few hours later. Netanyahu saved his phone call to Bennett for last.
The delay is widely seen as significant, since the order in which negotiations take place with parties determines which party will join the coalition first, and receive the “juiciest” portfolios, and which is “left to dry out.”
Netanyahu is under fire by members of his party over his treatment of Bennett, which Likud members say has been inappropriate, demeaning and solely based on personal reasons.