Members of the Likud went to the polls earlier this week to select their slate
of candidates for the next Knesset. Dozens of public and not-so-public figures
vied for a spot on the list, hoping to ride the party’s expected electoral
victory and land a much-coveted parliamentary seat.
Tens of thousands of
Israelis from all walks of life cast their ballots, and the results produced
quite a few surprises, with veteran ministers such as Michael Eitan, Dan Meridor
and Benny Begin failing to earn a realistic slot.
Instead, a younger band
of contenders made their mark, signaling a change of generations in the
venerable political movement. Forty-somethings such as Gideon Sa’ar, Gilad
Erdan, Danny Danon and Yariv Levin are now among the newer and fresher faces of
the ruling party.
Nonetheless, this seismic shift was all but ignored in
much of the coverage of the vote. Instead, from the reactions of many observers,
a person could be forgiven for thinking that Attila the Hun will be representing
the Likud in the next Knesset.
The Likud, thundered Haaretz, “has become
an extreme right-wing party,” one in which “the top of the list is studded with
settlement lobbyists, warmongers and people who undermine
Sure, Haaretz didn’t explicitly use the word “fascist,” but
they did come pretty close.
Not surprisingly, the reaction of the Likud’s
rivals was fairly similar, as they all read from the same talking points,
hurling invective and trying to paint the party as beyond the Israeli
“The list that was chosen,” said Labor leader Shelly
Yacimovich, “turns the Likud into an extreme right-wing party.”
presented an alarming list,” Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party warned, saying that it
“revolves around the axis of the deals of old politics and extremist
“The liberal Likud has died,” lamented Meretz chairman Zahava
Gal-On, reciting the secular version of the Kaddish prayer.
You get the
point. It is good old-fashioned name-calling at work. Those who cannot argue
inevitably choose to vilify. After all, it is much easier to call someone a fool
than to make a dignified and compelling case that his views are
But let’s humor the Left for a moment and consider their
accusation. Is the Likud really “extreme”? This is the party that made peace
with Egypt and gave up Sinai, in the process setting the precedent of bulldozing
Jewish communities and expelling their residents. It was a Likud prime minister,
Yitzhak Shamir, who agreed to attend the 1991 Madrid Conference.
was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the start of his second term who
endorsed the principle of a two-state solution, froze settlement construction in
the territories and called for a resumption of negotiations with the
Those are hardly the actions of an “extreme” right-wing
To be sure, many of the Likud’s new members are less enamored with
the peace process, but so is much of Israeli society. They understand that
turning over territory has only brought more death and destruction, rather than
reconciliation and harmony, and that Israel simply does not have a partner with
whom to end the Palestinian conflict.
That is not extremism – it is
Likud MK Danny Danon put it best when he said, “Is someone who
loves the Land of Israel, the people of Israel and the Torah of Israel extreme?”
Indeed, the real extremism is not to be found in the Likud, which was willing to
compromise its core principles for the sake of peace, but among the Left, which
refuses to let go of its failed ideology even in the face of disastrous
Ever since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Left has been
repeating the same mantras, assuring the Israeli public that withdrawal would
Hence, Israel pulled out of Gaza in 1994, withdrew
from cities in Judea and Samaria in 1995 and from Hebron in 1997, and went on to
uproot Jewish communities in Gush Katif and northern Samaria in 2005.
just what exactly did that bring us? Unprecedented Palestinian suicide bombings
and terrorism in the ‘90s, the second intifada, rockets last week on Sderot,
Ashkelon and Tel Aviv, and a unilateral move by the Palestinian Authority this
week to obtain UN recognition of an independent state.
continue to call for still more of the same, as if they had learned nothing from
the experience of the past 20 years.
After everything Israel has been
through, it is sheer folly to think that yielding more to the Palestinians will
bring about a better result. When a normal person finds himself in a hole, he
stops digging. But the Left continues to reach for the shovel.
continue to adhere to an idea even in the face of prolonged, repeated and
overwhelmingly fatal failure, as the Left has done, is the true definition of
zealotry. It was Winston Churchill who correctly pointed out that, “A fanatic is
one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
the two sides of Israel’s political spectrum, it is fairly clear to whom that
The real extremists whom we need to fear are not the
parliamentarians of the Likud. It is those on the Left who continue to cling to
fantasy and dare to present it as policy.