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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough took to Instagram on Tuesday to marvel about climbing the famed Masada fortress with his band during their visit to Israel, where they will perform this week for the first time. The group’s second day of sightseeing in the Jewish state included the Masada hike, and taking a mud bath at the Dead Sea. A picture from the band’s official Twitter page shows the five singers covered in mud. While relaxing in the Dead Sea, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews US & Canada ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    A new book and its upcoming film adaptation tell the true story of how three former yeshiva students who habitually smoked marijuana scored a $300 million contract from the U.S. government to supply weapons for the Afghan Army, the New York Daily News reported on Sunday. Arms and the Dudes details how the Miami Beach potheads became “the most unlikely gunrunners in history,” according to the book’s author, investigative reporter Guy Lawson. The tale begins with Efraim Diveroli, nephew of [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    JNS.org – Natalie Portman, who directs and stars in the new Hebrew-language film adaptation of author Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, says that despite Oz’s record as a vocal left-wing critic of Israel, her film is not political. Like the book on which it is based, Portman’s film is about a young boy at the time of the founding of the state of Israel. “I think the movie is very much about this very particular, specific family story. Of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.