Ballots are printed ahead of elections 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Hillel Halkin’s lament in the Forward last week, titled “An Israeli ballot with no good options,” perfectly encapsulated what many voters feel. Indeed, I had trouble disagreeing with his analysis of the various parties’ flaws. Yet I couldn’t disagree more strongly with his conclusion. Granted, I’m politically to his right. But speaking as someone who wants our next government to carry out the same kinds of domestic reforms as he does, I think centrists who want to increase the odds of that happening actually have an excellent voting option. Here’s Halkin’s analysis in a nutshell: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu isn’t as bad as he’s often painted; he “performed well on Iran,” isn’t to blame for the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and “deserves credit for standing firm on the West Bank and Jerusalem.” But he “missed golden opportunities to carry out the economic reforms he knows are needed, to make Israel a more affordable place for its young people, and to spur the integration of its haredi community into its army and society.” So why should anyone think he’ll do differently next time around? Kadima, Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah, and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid are all little more than vanity vehicles, while Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi obviously isn’t an option for center-leftists. And though Halkin initially liked Labor, party leader Shelly Yacimovich queered that idea by vowing not to join a Netanyahu government, thereby nixing the chance of a centrist coalition that could enact the necessary reforms. Therefore, he concluded, “It looks like I’ll be staying home on January 22.”