Reality Check: Vote for change and a better tomorrow

Netanyahu has been prime minister for the past six years and his record is one of almost abject failure in all areas.

March 15, 2015 21:53
4 minute read.
herzog speaking to reporters

herzog . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Remember how Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog was mercilessly mocked after an early election rally in which he screeched “mahapach, mahapach, mahapach” (“[political] change, change, change”) into the microphone? Many of those laughing then are now laughing on the other side of their face as Herzog looks to have pulled off the incredible and seems set to lead the Zionist Union to a convincing victory over the Likud in Tuesday’s election.

The atmosphere is definitely one of change. The sight of a panic-stricken Benjamin Netanyahu desperately making the rounds of the television studios last week after having previously refused to take part in any debate clearly suggests that the prime minister’s own internal polls show that he is lagging behind Herzog.

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And in adopting Putin-like behavior – holding a closed-to-the-press election tour of Jerusalem’s shuk Mahaneh Yehuda because of fear of a hostile reception, or trying to dictate to Channel 10 which journalist should interview him – Netanyahu has proved once again that, under pressure, he crumbles.

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Netanyahu’s refusal to face Drucker, who has led a number of investigations into alleged illegal misconduct on the part of the prime minister and his wife, was an act of extreme political cowardice and unworthy of someone seeking the electorate’s support for another term in office.

When the next Israel Prize for journalism is awarded (assuming Netanyahu’s political meddling in this year’s prizes hasn’t irrevocably harmed their prestige), there can be only one winner: Channel 10 News head Golan Yahpouz, who refused to bow to Netanyahu’s blackballing of Drucker and turned down an interview with the prime minister.

But there are, of course, more serious reasons than Netanyahu’s reluctance to face his critics for Israelis to make sure the prime minister is not reelected come polling day and that Herzog and the Zionist Union have a strong enough base to ensure the creation of a center- left government.

Netanyahu has been prime minister for the past six years and his record is one of almost abject failure in all areas. Despite his supposed expertise in economics, his government has failed miserably to improve the average Israeli’s standard of living and his total inaction on the housing market front has left a whole generation without the prospect of owning their own home for many years to come.

And for someone who styles himself as “Mr. Security,” Netanyahu’s record is even more lamentable. The supposed uncompromising figure on the war against terror released 1,000 terrorists in return for Gilad Schalit, and dozens more dangerous terrorists as part of a deal to allow Israel to lift the construction freeze on settlement building in the West Bank. In two rounds of fighting with Hamas in Gaza during his premiership, it’s hard to make the case that Israel ended either campaign as the clear victor.

Further afield in Iran, the supposed focus of Netanyahu’s attention for the whole of his premiership, Tehran’s building of centrifuges has continued apace. As former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin pointed out over the weekend, Iran today has three times more centrifuges for enriching uranium that it did when Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009, and Iran now has 10 times more enriched uranium than it did six years ago.

Not only have Israel’s enemies prospered during Netanyahu’s leadership but Israel’s relationships with the United States and the European Union have plummeted to new lows. Netanyahu’s unprecedented meddling in internal American politics on behalf of casino owner Sheldon Adelson has to have been the most reckless behavior of any Israeli prime minister and will cost the country dearly should Netanyahu be reelected.

Back in 1999, when Netanyahu lost to Ehud Barak after his first term of office, Israelis were glad to see the back of him, following a succession of scandals surrounding his family life, inept political leadership and the tensions he single-handedly created with the Clinton White House. Fast-forward one-and-a-half decades, after another two terms of a Netanyahu premiership, the country is in a similar position, desperately needing change.

Herzog might not have Netanyahu’s deep voice or rhetorical skills but he is what the country needs at this juncture: an honest politician driven by a desire to unite Israel’s different communities, build better relations with our Palestinian neighbors and restore our relations with our closest allies, particularly the US, a country he knows just as well as Netanyahu.

It’s definitely time for a change. Come Tuesday, a vote for the Zionist Union is a vote for a new, better Israel. We mustn’t miss this chance to replace the net of fear that Netanyahu has cast over the country with one of hope for a better tomorrow.

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