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...

  • Blogs Sports Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    Gold on the Galilee: Israeli Kayaker Comes of Age, Eyes Olympics (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Three years ago, kayaking coach Roei Lev found aspiring Olympian Ilya Podpolnyy crying on the steps of the Jordan Valley Sprint Kayak Club overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Podpolnyy, then 17 years old, had just been disqualified from the Israeli kayaking championship. He couldn’t survive the heats. He didn’t make the start line. He was devastated—and he had no one with whom to share his hopes, his dreams, and his disappointment. His divorced parents still live in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.