In the coming elections, Israelis will need to choose between the Left – whose actions will harm Israel’s interests; and the Right – whose actions have already improved their lives.
Election season has started: primaries in full force, new polls coming out every day predicting the success or demise of various political figures.
Even before the campaign began, the Left’s strategy was clear: Paint Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Right as an inactive or reactive movement that never leads the way forward.
However, as much as the clearly left-leaning Israeli media try to push such an image of the Right, this image is at odds with reality.
The Right has been in power for the majority of the past two decades – decades that have seen Israel grow in prosperity, thanks to smart governing by right-wing leaders. The times during which the Left has held power in these decades are the same eras that have seen security and economic problems. These issues have remained for right-wing conservatives to fix: the Oslo Accords, the evacuation of southern Lebanon and the disengagement.
Moreover, the Right is still trying to fix the various economic problems that plague Israel due to the socialist policies with which leftists have led the country since its inception.
While the Left is trying to convince the world that “the Right does nothing, while the Left does,” the truth of the matter is that the Left does bad, while the Right does good.
In the past, Netanyahu – along with Naftali Bennett, the right-wing economy minister – has pushed for important reforms that have advanced the Jewish state. As representatives of the right-wing parties in the current elections, the Likud’s Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi’s Bennett have proven records of success.
This contrasts sharply with recent mishaps by the Left when placed in positions of power.The Right improves the economy
The year was 2003, the middle of the second intifada. The economy was hurting, and Netanyahu was named finance minister.
Most finance ministers before Netanyahu had limited themselves to minor reforms. Setting himself apart, Netanyahu entered the post and immediately started leading the way towards dramatic changes – advocating for tax cuts, the privatization of many government- owned companies such as El Al and Zim, and the reduction of various allowances granted to certain societal sectors.
In this way, Netanyahu brought the economy from an incredibly unhealthy and unfair socialist vehicle to a much healthier free market.
Plenty of room remains for improvement, but the steps taken by Netanyahu were seen by all as revolutionary.
While today Moshe Kahlon is taking full credit for the cellular revolution which increased competition in the cellphone service market, it was not too long ago that Kahlon himself admitted this revolution was pushed by Netanyahu. Thanks to Netanyahu’s leadership, all of Israel can now save over NIS 200 shekels monthly on their cellphone bill.
In the field of transportation, every Israeli who travels on Route 1 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is witness to the massive renovations implemented under Netanyahu’s leadership. In just a few years, Israelis will be able to go from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by train in just over half an hour, a trip that today takes over an hour in traffic. The highway will also be tremendously renovated, making it easier for those who still prefer using their cars.
The unprecedented changes pushed by Netanyahu are, for the first time, making Israel a country where one can live in the periphery and work in the Center. While left-wing governments focused on subsidies to the periphery that simply act as temporary band-aids and do not solve any problems, the Right is bringing solutions.
Bennett continued in the tradition of Netanyahu.
Since entering the Economy Ministry, he has led the way with serious reforms that have, in a very short time, already positively affected quality of life. In a groundbreaking decision, Bennett did what very few political actors are willing to do: he limited his own power to raise tariffs.
Though unexpected, the reasoning behind this unselfish decision is simple to understand and beneficial for all parties involved. Bennett understood that tariffs are harmful to the local economy, and that he would not remain economy minister forever.
At the same time, Bennett lowered existing tariffs in some areas and worked to facilitate imports. The goal was clear: increase competition and lower retail prices.
As a result, this September – for the first time in years – prices have stopped rising and have even started to drop.
These examples are only a few of the many accomplishments of the Right while leading the State of Israel. Even so, the Left keeps claiming that nothing is being done – complaining while the Right is busy getting things done.
Actually, in the last year, we had a small glimpse of the type of economic leadership the Left is proposing should it come to power.
Former finance minister Yair Lapid proposed a ridiculous plan to attempt to lower the price of housing. His “no value-added tax” housing plan was so absurd that even one economist has yet to come out in its support. Rather, his chief economist quit in protest, claiming the plan would cost Israel billions of dollars while raising demand for housing, thus increasing the prices of housing rather than actually lowering them.
This type of populist policy is what one should expect from the Left: policies that sound good in a Facebook status, but would never be backed by any reasonable professional.The Left hurts Israel
If the Right is doing so much, how does the Left manage to convince so many people with its claim of right-wing inaction? The truth is that the underlying leftist claim when talking about the Right’s inaction is not focused on economic issues, rather diplomatic issues. The Left is annoyed with the Right for not signing any peace agreement with the Palestinians, and not evacuating the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.
After all, the Left did so much when it was in power! Leftists signed the Oslo Accords, giving the Arabs in Judea and Samaria full autonomy, bringing Yasser Arafat back to Ramallah, enabling all the components necessary for the planning and execution of the second intifada – which has brought us over 1,000 Israeli deaths.
The Left also enabled Ariel Sharon’s expulsion of Jews from Gaza, resulting in the Hamas takeover of the Strip that has brought us thousands of rockets, three military operations and dozens of Israeli deaths. On the northern front, the Left allowed the evacuation of southern Lebanon, which led to the strengthening of Hezbollah in the North, one serious war and the creation of one of Israel’s most serious current threats.
The choice between the Left’s actions vs the Right’s justified reluctance for this type of initiative should be obvious. Israel cannot afford more “actions” of the type the Left is encouraging.The choice is clear
In the coming elections, Israelis have a clear choice in front of them.
They need to choose between an obsessive Left that wants to concede to the Palestinians at all costs – even when it does not need to do so – and a Right which understands one must be cautious before compromising on security issues.
They need to choose between a Left that wants to bring the economic system backwards by going back to the times of Socialism; and a Right that will keep moving the economy forward, freeing the market from government control and investing in infrastructure instead of subsidies.
The Right does good. The Left does bad. This is the reality.
For the good of Israel, let us hope that the Right continues to be the group tasked with implementing the state’s actions. The writer is an attorney and a former legislative adviser to Knesset’s coalition chairman; he previously served in a legal capacity at the Foreign Ministry. He is a graduate of McGill University Law School and Hebrew University’s master’s program in public policy.
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