A vote of unintended consequences

When entering the voting booth on March 17 Israelis must not be confused.

March 12, 2015 22:22
3 minute read.
Bulletins de vote

Israeli election ballots [File]. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

I have been engaged in Israeli politics since my days as a student activist at Ramat Gan’s storied Blich High School almost 30 years ago. Those who support me, and even my most critical detractors, all agree that my political activism is based on a passionate belief in an ideological path that I have hewed closely to throughout my years in public service. While I can understand why voters often search for the political party that closely matches their ideology, I know that in this election there is only one choice for those who want a proud, right-wing Israeli government.

During my travels all over the country throughout this election campaign, I have encountered too many voters who believe they are voting in a strategic manner. With the purest of intentions, they believe that by strengthening satellite or sectorial parties they will have a say in forming the ideological makeup of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s next government.

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Quite simply, they think they can have their cake and eat it too.

The facts, however, disprove this notion.

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Almost every reputable poll published over the past week shows an extremely tight race between the Likud and the Zionist Union. If too many of those currently deliberating between the Likud and other parties do not vote for the Likud, then we will wake up on March 18 with a number of smaller to mid-size right-wing parties.

It is clearer than ever that if the Zionist Union significantly increases in size, the so-called centrist parties, that have declined to openly state their preference for the next prime minister, will team up with the Joint Arab List and recommend Isaac Herzog as the next prime minister to President Reuven Rivlin. The path is paved for Herzog and Tzipi Livni to form the next government.

For those who have forgotten, or been somehow convinced by the misinformation spread by our opponents, now is the time to recall where Herzog and Livni stand on some issues that are critical to all of us. There is no need to elaborate too much on Livni. Her record as Ehud Olmert’s foreign minister, and then as the lead negotiator in the previous government, leave no doubt regarding intentions.

If given the chance to hold an influential portfolio, or even serve as prime minister, we will quickly see her retreat to the pre-1967 borders and divide Jerusalem.

While Herzog’s positions may not be as well known to the general public, there is much cause for concern if he were to be elected. Herzog is on record as saying that he supports Palestinian sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods. Even more worrying, as we await word on what seems to be a very dangerous deal between the P5+1 powers and Iran, Herzog gave an interview in which he refused to classify a nuclear Iran as an existential threat to Israel and said that he trusts the American administration to negotiate the best possible deal with the ayatollahs.

Herzog and Livni are of course entitled to these opinions, and those who support them should vote for Zionist Union next Tuesday. Those, on the other hand, who believe that an experienced right-wing government is best suited to lead Israel in what promises to be a critical few years, must only vote Likud. A vote for any other party may very well lead to a situation where we are sitting on the opposition benches together with our natural allies watching as Herzog and Livni take office.

I respect the passionate dedication to the Land of Israel and the ideological path chosen by so many Israelis. There are times, however, when we must channel this passion into logical and rational choices that will have monumental repercussions.

When entering the voting booth on March 17 Israelis must not be confused.

We are faced with two clear ideological choices. Any attempt to overthink this in the hope of predetermining the makeup of the next government could result in unintended consequences that will be disastrous for our beloved State of Israel.

The author is former deputy defense minister and a Knesset member for Likud.

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