Get ready for the ugliest elections in Israeli history

The parties that Israelis vote for should promote hope and a vision for the country and its people. They shouldn’t run on a campaign of fear and divisiveness.

March 11, 2018 20:15
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting on March 11, 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting on March 11, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Whether elections are announced this week, next month or in the summer, we can be certain of one development: This will be the ugliest election in Israel’s history.

And this is sad.

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Israel has known dirty and ugly elections. In 2015, for example, the Likud party ran commercials claiming that if Labor won, ISIS would take over Israel. “It’s either us or them,” the Likud’s slogan went at the time, referring to the Right and Left. If the Left wins, Likud claimed, terror will reign.

Then there was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s high-noon election day appeal, in which he claimed that left-wing organizations were busing Arabs in “droves” to the polls, endangering the right-wing government. While he later apologized for the remark, the end justified the means.

Netanyahu had to get reelected, and was willing to do whatever it (legally) took, even if it meant engaging in racially divisive rhetoric.

Now, with the corruption investigations against Netanyahu gaining steam and an indictment (or two) looming on the horizon, if an election is called in the coming weeks, we can expect even worse – not just from Netanyahu, but also from the opposition.

It will be a campaign of mudslinging and scorched-earth tactics. The opposition – and even some of the parties on the Right – will claim that Netanyahu is corrupt, is a hedonist, and is destroying the country. He, in return, will warn of the destruction of Israel if Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid or Labor’s Avi Gabbay comes out on top.

Likud will attack the media, the police, the attorney-general and the courts. Everything will be fair game, nothing will be off limits.

The Left will not be that different. It will slam Netanyahu, his wife and son. It’ll accuse him of being against peace, against Arabs and against basic freedoms.

Politicians from across the spectrum will try to divide and conquer. They will separate the religious from the secular, and the settlers from the Tel Avivians. In short, this election has the potential to become extremely ugly, to the point that it could cause long-term damage to Israeli society.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Israelis can stand up and refuse to accept such a reality. Instead of telling us what they won’t do, we should demand that the parties tell us what they will do.

The parties that Israelis vote for should promote hope and a vision for the country and its people. They shouldn’t run on a campaign of fear and divisiveness, but on one of optimism and how the country can look if they came to power and were able to implement their platform.

It is the difference between optimism and pessimism, hope and despair, unity and division.

This election – whenever it comes – will be historic. It will either solidify Netanyahu’s leadership like no Israeli politician before him, or turn a page in history with Netanyahu removed from office and a new politician elected to lead the country.

Whatever the result, the elections should not make us forget the real challenge: to advance Israel, to keep it safe, and to ensure the country’s continued economic, military and social growth in the years to come. This is what truly matters.

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