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December 21, 2014 12:32 pm

Poll Dancing and Wishful Thinking

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Israel's Knesset. Photo: Tazpit News Agency.

A Haaretz poll, conducted on Tuesday by the Dialog Institute and supervised by “ŽProfessor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, revealed seemingly paradoxical results.

According to the poll, which was taken among a representative sample of 505 Israelis, “ŽPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is very unpopular, but remains the best candidate for “Žthe job.”Ž

Indeed, while most of the public does not want him to win a third consecutive term “Ž”Ž(which would constitute a fourth term overall), his rivals fare worse.”Ž

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It must be kept in mind that the Knesset elections are scheduled for March, nearly three “Žmonths away. A lot can happen in that time, especially in Israel, where events are “Žincredibly dynamic on a daily basis. “Ž

Proof of this is how distant the war in Gaza now seems, though it ended very recently. In “ŽJuly and August, Hamas missiles were flying all over the country, sending the entire “Žpopulace into bomb shelters and a smaller number into Gaza to fight the terrorists and “Ždestroy their infrastructure. By October, the cheap cost of chocolate pudding in Berlin “Žcompared with that in Tel Aviv was front-page news.”Ž

In addition, because of the nature of survey questions, which leave no room for nuance or “Žqualifications, they are not reliable. What they provide, however, is a general, anecdotal “Žsense of the way the wind is blowing at any given moment. Like man-in-the-street “Žinterviews, they serve as a gauge of temporary gut sentiment.”Ž

Due to the way the political system works in Israel, one main question on the mind of “Žaverage voters is whether to cast their ballot for the largest party that comes closest to “Žtheir worldview, or to go with a smaller party with a more specific focus. Opting for the “Žlatter often means throwing one’s vote into the garbage, since narrow-interest tickets — “Žsuch as the marijuana party — usually don’t pass the electoral threshold to make it into the “ŽKnesset. “Ž

This used to be a far more cut-and-dry choice between Left and Right. The major parties “Žwould garner most of the votes, and the victor among the two would form the coalition.”Ž

But since both previous major blocs, Likud and Labor, have split over the years, the Knesset “Žmap has changed. Today, there are three or four parties hovering around the same number of seats, or at least garnering a sufficient number to make them a force for the party “Žforming the coalition to be reckoned with.”Ž

It is precisely this state of affairs that caused the current government to fall. Netanyahu’s “Žcabinet was made up of such a diverse bunch that it was virtually impossible for him to “Žforge and implement coherent policies, both foreign and domestic. It is no wonder, then, “Žthat the public, which gave him unprecedented support during Operation Protective Edge “Žthis summer, is dissatisfied with his stewardship. “Ž

Ironically, however, the behavior and ideology of the leaders of the other parties are also “Žbeing faulted. Furthermore, in spite of all the hatred of Netanyahu from the Left, and the “Žanger at him on the part of right-wingers who view him as a sellout, there is an unspoken “Žconsensus among the floating voters that he is the only party leader on the scene with “Žsufficient gravitas to be prime minister.”Ž

Hence the merger of former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Opposition and Labor Party “Žleader Isaac Herzog. They clearly came to realize that neither has the standing and “Žstatesmanship of their arch rival, and that in order to beat him, they need to put their two “Žhalf-heads together, on the one hand, and to stop diluting the “peace-camp” brand on the “Žother.”Ž

The one candidate who is causing the undecided voters pause is Moshe Kahlon. Credited “Žwith having opened the cellphone market to competition and drastically reduced “Žconsumer prices, the former communications minister from the Likud who resigned two “Žyears ago has re-emerged to form the Kulanu (“All of Us”) party.”Ž

A handsome figure with one capitalist accomplishment under his belt, Kahlon is “Žbecoming the social-democratic flavor of the month for promising to be all things for all “Žpeople. “Ž

Yes, his message is that our children deserve a better future. How original. Why hasn’t “Žanyone else thought of it?”Ž

His goal is to bring about peace, security, quality education, better health care, social “Žjustice, affordable housing and pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. To this end, he is in “Žthe process of recruiting like-minded “centrists,” such as former Ambassador to the U.S. “ŽMichael Oren and former MK Orna Angel, a former advisor to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. He is also “Žconsidering joining forces with former Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the former journalist “Žwho was formerly popular for promising all the same things.”Ž

This goes to show that Israelis are as stupid as they are smart. “Ž

In spite of grasping that Iran is about to get the bomb, that the Palestinians are more “Žinterested in killing Jews than establishing an independent state, that the United States “Žunder Barack Obama is a dubious ally, that anti-Semitism is on a steep rise across the “Žworld, and that “centrist” parties always move to the left without delivering the goods, “Žthey still want to be seduced into fantasy-land.”Ž

If Kahlon succeeds at pulling the wool over the eyes of voters who have an aversion to “ŽNetanyahu but see no alternative on the horizon, he will become the kingmaker of the “Župcoming elections.”Ž

Only another war — or a miracle — will prevent that from happening. Wishful thinking “Žcauses me to hope for the latter.”Ž

Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab “ŽSpring.'””Ž This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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  • steven L

    The solution to the IL-Pal quandary is in the hands of the Palestinians.
    The West refuses to accept this fundamental fact because they want to convince a sane people to give into to an insane people.

  • Abraham

    In a recent poll conducted in Israel by Avraham Ben Joseph and Associates the poll indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is popular and that 77% look at him favorably. However, it indicated his blunders and pointed out three major flaws. The first miscalculation was the release of terrorist with blood on their hands. The second unpopular move was the capitulation to the U.S. and the international community regarding the building of homes in Jerusalem and the disputed areas. And lastly, not destroying Hamas and allowing Hamas the ability to recover in the future. These three factors hurt him politically. Politically speaking, he is the best and most experienced candidate for election.

    However, it will be a tough battle if another crisis erupts. What he should do in in order to win in next election, is to call on the Israeli government to abrogate the Oslo, Hebron and Wye agreements, which have been repeatedly violated by the PLO-Palestinian Authority. The second step is to annex all of Judea and Samaria including Gaza. This would send a message to all in the region and the international community that all of Judea and Samaria is Israel’s birthright and inheritance.

    Lastly, pressure the Jordanian government to accept a minimum of 500,000 Palestinians living in the disputed areas to take them in as citizens. A transfer of population would be in the best interest of the Palestinians. They were once citizens of Jordan but their citizenship was striped by the Jordanian government.

  • NCS

    Great writing and intelligent analysis of what and who will possibly be included on the March ballot. Hopefully Israelis will cast their votes for the party and persons who will keep Israel safe and prospering. World opinion will not keep Israel safe and prospering.

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