Most of us would be relieved if the election season could be considerably
shortened. The worst aspects of our dysfunctional politics have been highlighted
in this campaign, commencing with primaries which tended to promote the lowest
common denominator, frequently involving sleazy deals and even outright
A record number of candidates were undemocratically and
summarily hand-picked by leaders like Avigdor Liberman, Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid
or even Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – not to mention Shaul Mofaz, whose Kadima party is
unlikely to muster sufficient votes to pass the threshold for any
In such a chaotic, corrupt and undemocratic environment,
it is understandable why most talented Israelis shun political
Barring a political earthquake, the outcome of this election is
a foregone conclusion. Notwithstanding his weaknesses, in the absence of serious
competition, Binyamin Netanyahu stands head and shoulders above any other
candidate and will be reelected.
The unity ticket forged between Likud
and Yisrael Beytenu will guarantee that the combined list will be the largest in
the Knesset. But at this stage it seems that running as a bloc may alienate
radicals and liberals in both parties and substantially reduce the number of
seats they obtained when they ran separately.
This may be further
complicated by the intervention of the attorney-general. I have no axe to grind
on behalf of Liberman, but having procrastinated for over 12 years before
failing to indict him on any serious charges, one must wonder what motivated the
attorney general, just a month before elections, to indict Liberman for a
relatively minor offense, thus prompting his ministerial resignation.
undermines confidence, stinks to high heaven and warrants an investigation into
the entire judicial system.
The polls indicate that the “national camp”
and religious bloc will be strengthened. In addition, Likud seems to have moved
further to the Right with liberals like Dan Meridor, Bennie Begin and Michael
Eitan eliminated at the primaries. The national religious Bayit Yehudi, which
absorbed the right-wing settler party, is predicted to emerge as a major player
in the next government, winning as many as 10 to 14 seats.
Deri’s return to Shas failed to generate an upsurge in votes, there is concern
that the haredim may retain sufficient leverage to protect their one-dimensional
interests and prevent the government from introducing overdue reforms relating
to the draft and inducing them to productively contribute toward the economy
rather than preponderantly remaining lifelong recipients of welfare.
centrist and left-wing opposition parties are in a state of total disarray. Many
of their candidates are chameleons, shameless opportunists devoid of principles
or morals, adapting themselves to any party to retain their Knesset
Kadima is the role model for immorality and crass opportunism.
Its successive leaders have all been disastrous.
Tzipi Livni, the darling
of the anti-Netanyahu camp, proved to be a serial failure. Her frenetic personal
hatred of Netanyahu made her lose all sense of perspective, as she shamelessly
demonized the government abroad.
She opposed Netanyahu for conceding to a
settlement freeze and then attacked him for failing to re-introduce a settlement
freeze. Her hysteria ultimately led the party to replace her with the current
leader, Shaul Mofaz – who proved to be an even greater failure. The electorate
is now likely to humiliate Kadima, currently the largest party in the Knesset,
by sending all its members home.
In this almost insane environment Tzipi
Livni forms a new “Tzipi Livni Party.” After having left Kadima with debts in
excess of NIS 30 million, she had the chutzpah to cajole seven former Kadima
members to join her in order to exploit the “Mofaz law” (which she had opposed),
to obtain millions of shekels of government funds for her new party which would
otherwise have gone to Kadima.
She invited scores of people – most of
whom declined – to join her list. Describing herself as a follower of
Jabotinsky, she persuaded Amir Peretz, the number three on the Labor list, whom
she had previously excoriated for his failures as defense minister, to defect to
She also appointed as No. 2 on her list Amram Mitzna, the former
failed leader of Labor whose views would qualify him for Meretz. Meir Sheetrit,
who admitted he holds Livni in utter contempt but was desperate to remain in the
Knesset, became her number five. Livni succeeded in seducing the national
religious Elazar Stern to join her list as number four by allowing him to vote
independently on all issues relating to the Palestinians, making a mockery of
the political process. In a subsequent interview, Stern conceded that he had not
bothered to check whether his views concerning the Palestinians coincided with
those of his party leader.
Yet notwithstanding the support of Yediot
Aharonot, whose proprietor’s vendetta against Netanyahu is obsessive, it is
astonishing that there are Israelis who are actually contemplating voting for
this mad hatters’ party. As the election draws nearer, maybe some sanity will
Shelly Yacimovich is poised to lead Labor into reasserting
itself as a formidable political force and become leader of the opposition. She
has distanced herself from Oslo and the delusional leftists and post-Zionists
who hijacked and virtually destroyed the Labor party. Instead she is
concentrating on social and economic issues. The defection of Peretz to Livni
will in the long run be to her benefit. Regrettably, if her social welfare
program were to be implemented, it would lead the nation into
But she may prove to be willing to join a broader
There are other flamboyant players. The smartest is Ehud
Barak who, recognizing that his party – Independence – might not pass the
minimum threshold, announced his retirement immediately after the Gaza conflict
when his standing was at its highest. He failed to give advance notice to the
other four loyal members of his party, whose political careers came to an
unexpected and abrupt end. There are other colorful politicians who will not
return, including those remaining in Kadima.
Despite lacking political
experience, if Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party joins the government, he could make
a major contribution in relation to the haredi draft issue. In contrast to his
late father, a former minister of justice who was a haredi basher, Yair is more
tolerant and would support responsible reform in relation to religion and
That he selected a prominent religious Zionist rabbi as his number
two demonstrates his sincerity.
Bayit Yehudi would also encourage the
government to introduce major internal reforms relating to state and religion,
especially a gradual but ultimately universal military and national service
which would incorporate haredim and ensure that they become productive elements
of society rather than subsisting on welfare.
appalling, corrupt circus and despite the increased strength of the Right, I
predict that the next government will be more broadly based and will retain a
consensual centrist stand which will be flexible and enjoy the support of the
vast majority of the nation.
The writer’s website can be viewed at
www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at