Netanyahu’s mistake and opportunity

Very few people have been able to change Israel’s political face in such an impressive way. Nachman gave Samaria legitimacy in the eyes of Israeli society.

By RONEN SHOVAL
January 24, 2013 21:24
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Imagine a giant sombrero. Now imagine me eating it.

Two weeks ago, relying on the polls, I wrote that the Right would win this election by a knock-out. It turns out that this was a narrow victory on points, in the 15th round.

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But a victory on points is still a victory.

Indeed, the dreary election campaign suddenly turned into a fascinating political storm. But at the same time, one can assume that despite the surprise defection of parts of the right-wing bloc, the prime minister will still be Binyamin Netanyahu. It’s difficult to imagine that contrary to the dream of Shimon Peres, the left-wing bloc can make Yair Lapid prime minister.

When you look carefully at the data, it emerges that in spite of what commentators have been telling us, the people of Israel don’t want a change. The people continue to prefer the path of the Right.

All that happened was that the 28 seats that Kadima had in the 18th Knesset were dispersed, mostly to Lapid’s Yesh Atid, rather than to The Tzipi Livni Party or Labor.

At least half of those who voted for Lapid define themselves as on the Right of the political spectrum.



Lapid’s success within the Left did not require a brilliant campaign or a unique ideological platform on the part of he and his party.

The respectable number of seats he won doesn’t mean that anyone (including Lapid himself) really thinks that he is suitable to be prime minister.

And so, how can we explain Yesh Atid’s phenomenal success? Ultimately, it was the result of a particularly poorly managed campaign by Likud Beytenu.

When you analyze the voting patterns among Israelis, what stands out most is that young people abandoned the Likud.

Those who voted for the party were adults and the elderly. The Likud failed to provide an attractive alternative option in the battle for the younger generation.

The stagnation in the Likud’s candidates list put people off; new and relevant faces did not appear. The youth were drawn in recent months to Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party.

The Likud, which noticed that Bayit Yehudi was gaining strength, began attacking Bennett in such an exaggerated way that it bordered on hysteria.

The Likud managed to label Bayit Yehudi as an extreme party, and it was then that young voters began to ditch Bayit Yehudi, and instead of returning to the Likud, they went straight to Yesh Atid.

That’s how about four mandates moved from the Right to the Left. And this is something that will dramatically diminish the Likud’s capability to govern the country.

At the same time, the new map of mandates creates new and interesting possibilities for Israeli society. If Netanyahu dares to break his bond with the haredim, there could be a Likud-Yesh Atid-Bayit Yehudi coalition. Such a coalition could successfully confront the Iranian problem as well as a host of other challenges with regard to issues at the very heart of the ideologies of all three parties – stopping infiltrators crossing the Egyptian border, sharing the burden of military service, lowering housing prices, liberalizing the economy, safeguarding IDF soldiers and the State of Israel from dangerous threats, and significantly changing the legal and political system.

Ron Nachman’s life The death of Ariel’s founder and mayor, Ron Nachman, was almost lost in the media commotion over the election in the past week. Nachman, in his infinite dedication and determination, working day and night, managed to establish a city that became the capital of Samaria, which at first glance might have been extremely controversial. But Nachman, through the sheer power of his personality, founded a prosperous, modern city with a university, cultural center and industrial area and thousands of residents, a city that establishes Israel’s presence de facto over the Green Line.

Very few people have been able to change Israel’s political face in such an impressive way. Nachman gave Samaria legitimacy in the eyes of Israeli society.

When Yair Lapid paid a visit to Ariel several months ago to present his political platform, he voiced Ron Nachman’s true victory. May his memory be a blessing.

The writer is chairman and founder of Im Tirtzu.


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