|Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem|
Israel’s fractional reality
By MICHAEL WIDLANSKI
Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett will find a common denominator in pulling and pushing haredi families to remain religious while also becoming part of working Israel.
In Israel, the devil is not so much in the details as it is in the
Ignore the puffy pundits on TV who have been wrong all along.
The math is easy. Likud Beytenu is a fourth. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid is a sixth.
Labor is an eighth, while Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home is a 10th.
anyone crunches fractions knows, there is only one way to do deal with
fractions: finding a common denominator.
Binyamin Netanyahu knows this,
and that is why he will be prime minister.
Yair Lapid knows this, and
that is why he ignored Tzipi Livni’s and Shelly Yacimovich’s advice to make
extreme demands or political statements about never doing business with
Netanyahu and about making deals with the anti- Zionist Arab parties.
quarter plus one sixth, in the case of the 120-member Knesset, is 50 seats. Add
Bennett’s one sixth, and that is a 62-member coalition base.
ALTHOUGH THE Israeli press – Yediot Aharonot, Channel
10, Channel 2 etc – like to call Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yacimovich “moderates”
or “centrists,” they are not at the heart of Israeli consensus, as fractious and
fractional as that consensus 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 past 30
years, especially after the failure of the 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
The so-called “peace process” was only an issue in the mind of
Shimon Peres, Livni and Amir Peretz, none of whom will be prime
That is why Kadima has evaporated, and that is why 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 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
American and European leaders also need to see this reality
rather than continuing the charade of phony meetings that go
LIKE BARACK OBAMA, Netanyahu has been re-elected with reduced
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
When he was prime minister, Sharon knew well enough to ask
Netanyahu to be his finance minister.
Then and now, Netanyahu did a
remarkable job of balancing social needs, taxes and job production.
of the OECD countries, Israel’s performance beats that of America or Germany –
no small trick.
Compare also Netanyahu’s military performance on Gaza
with Olmert’s work on Gaza and Lebanon or Barak’s fiasco with the second
Netanyahu will form the next coalition because most Israelis
think he is best qualified for the job. They are right, and they are also,
POLLSTER MINA TSEMAH said 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”
is nonsense. Lapid is not on the Left politically or economically.
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 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-Bennett
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
The writer, 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.