Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Israel’s Fractional Reality

January 25, 2013 1:06 am 0 comments

Yair Lapid in 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In Israel, the devil is not so much in the details as it is in the fractions.

Ignore the puffy pundits on TV who have been wrong all along. The math is easy. Likud-Beitenu is a fourth. Yair Lapid’s Yesh-Atid is a sixth. Labor is an eighth, while Naftali Bennet’s Jewish Home is a tenth.

And as anyone who crunches fractions knows, there is only one way to do deal with fractions: finding a common denominator.

Benjamin Netanyahu knows this, and that is why he will be prime minister. Yair Lapid knows this, and that is why he ignored the advice of Tzippy Livni and Shelly Yehimovitz to make extreme demands or political statements about never doing business with Netanyahu and about making deals with the anti-Zionist Arab parties.

One quarter and one-sixth in the case of the 120-member Knesset is 50 seats. With Bennet’s one-sixth, that is a 62-member coalition base. Small, strong, workable.

Although the Israeli press—Yediot, Channel 10, Channel Two etc—like to call Tzippy Livni and Shelly Yehimovitz “moderates” or “centrists,” they are not at the heart of Israeli consensus, as fractious and fractional as that is.

The truth is that the Likud is at the heart of the Jewish vote, and that is why it has rarely lost in the last 30 years, especially after the failure of Oslo pacts and the Gaza withdrawal championed by Labor and Kadima. Public opinion polls consistently show that Jewish voters do not feel Israel can make a deal with the PLO or Hamas.

The so-called “peace process” was only an issue in the mind of Shimon Peres, Tzippy Livni and Amir Peretz. None of them will be prime minister.

That is why Kadima has evaporated, and that is why Tzippy Livni got fewer votes than Meretz or the Haredi parties.. Livni built her campaign on talking to the PLO, which actually became more extreme after Arafat’s death and the succession of Mahmoud Abbas, a leader who Livni insists is the answer to Israel’s prayers.

Even Palestinians laugh at this analysis, and it is about time that the Israeli Left recognize the fact that the Palestinian national movement does not have any room in its heart for a real two-state solution. American and European leaders will also need to see this reality rather than continuing the charade of phony meetings that go nowhere.

Like Barack Obama, who got reelected with reduced support, Netanyahu has been re-elected. As in the case of Obama, there is much disappointment with Netanyahu, but the basic truth is Netanyahu did a better job economically and militarily than his predecessors—Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Olmert.

Sharon knew well enough to ask Netanyahu to be his finance minister when Sharon was prime minister. Then and now, Netanyahu did a remarkable job of balancing social needs, taxes and job production. Out of the OECD countries, Israel’s performance beats that of America or Germany—no small trick.

Compare also Netnayahu’s military performance on Gaza with Olmert’s work on Gaza and Lebanon or Barak’s fiasco with the Second Intifada. Netanyahu will form the next coalition because most Israelis think he is best qualified for the job. They are right, and they are also, largely, Right.

Pollster Mina Tsemah said that half of Yair Lapid’s voters identify as rightists, and Lapid himself does not want to do business with the extreme Arab parties or make the kind of failed one-sided concessions that typify Livni and Olmert.

That is why the press talk of two “equal blocs” between the Left and the Right is nonsense. Lapid is not on the Left politically or economically. The heart of his message has been enunciated by his colleague Ofer Shelah—equalizing the burden of army service.

Actually this is symbolic of a larger issue: how to get the Haredi men and women to take a greater share in Israel’s economy. Lapid is smart enough to know that this has to be an evolutionary process, and Netanyahu is smart enough to know that it is the kind of painful change that will be resisted by Haredi leaders.

That is why Netanyahu will probably accept Lapid’s demand to keep Haredi parties out of the government, or at least make tough demands on them.

Aside from the common denominator of keeping Israel safe from Iran and collapsing Arab neighbors (Syria, Egypt, etc) and keeping the economy strong, Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennet will find a common denominator in pulling and pushing Haredi families to remain religious while also becoming part of working Israel.

Those are the common denominators, and that is how Israel can make the fractions work.

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. A former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers and The Jerusalem Post, he was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University. This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which started on Friday in New York City, features a mini-documentary about an elderly Jewish woman whose journey away from Orthodoxy leads her to taste forbidden food for the first time in her life. In Canadian director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, Razie Brownstone talks about ending her lifelong observance of keeping kosher as her 90th birthday approaches. The recently declared atheist said the discovery of the search engine Google spurred a lapse in her Jewish faith and made her decide to […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Food Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    A Chabad rabbi from Rhinebeck, NY, will face off a priest, a pastor and a nun-in-training in an upcoming episode of the Food Network‘s reality show, “Chopped,” Lubavitch.com reported. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht – who teaches up-and-coming chefs about the intricacies of kosher dietary laws at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — was nominated for the show by a professional chef, and went through a rigorous interview process at the Food Network’s studios in Chelsea, NY. Months later, he was informed he had been accepted as a contestant in the popular TV cooking competition. “I thought […]

    Read more →