Right of Reply: Make the Right 'Righter'

In the last elections, Israel Beiteinu received only 116 fewer votes than the Likud.

lieberman israel 88.298 (photo credit: Israel Beitenu)
lieberman israel 88.298
(photo credit: Israel Beitenu)
Evelyn Gordon made an impassioned plea for all right-leaning voters to vote in the Likud primaries and vote for Likud in the general election in her article: "Civil Fights: Stop whining, start voting!" (Jerusalem Post, November 26). This partisan piece was rife with inaccuracies and misinformation designed to benefit the Likud and its apparatchiks, not the right-leaning voters and certainly not the people of Israel. Gordon begins by stating a valid and notable complaint: right-leaning voters are upset with some of Likud's recent left-leaning additions and are dubious about Likud's intentions. People are also concerned that, should Likud win the election, it will partner with Kadima and return the conciliatory Livni back to the Foreign Ministry. The claim that the Likud primaries will allay this concern is immaterial, since only registered Likud members can vote in the primaries and registration for Likud is now impossible. Also, Netanyahu has campaigned hard to promote his acquisitions, and primaries are often influenced by less-than-ideological issues (what party was Naomi Blumenthal part of?). THE CLAIM that the primary results will affect Netanyahu's ability to lean left, imply that this is indeed his intention. It also disregards the fact that the government wields an inordinate amount of power over the Knesset, and can often push through legislation by buying off Knesset votes through promises of ministerial appointments and party advancements. In the run up to the destruction of Gush Katif, a Likud-led government not only overran its Knesset members, but even the will of its party members. If a Likud-led government can ignore the results of its own referendum, can any primary voter be sure that s/he can have any influence on the party machine? Gordon herself, admits to the weakness of the Knesset in her contention that it is actually the ministers who set the tone of the country. She adds a further untruth about primaries: that Netanyahu will have to appoint the primary leaders as ministers. Ehud Olmert rose to power from the Likud's fourth tier, simply by showing his willingness to tow Sharon's left-leaning line. Gordon also plays to the sympathies of the "strategic voter" by claiming that the Likud leader is the only right-wing contender for the post of prime minister. If Netanyahu's rightist credentials are in question, this tautology is simply untrue. In the last elections, Israel Beiteinu received only 116 fewer votes than Likud. Right-Wing voters have already asked for an alternative to Netanyahu and the Likud, which Israel Beiteinu intends to provide. The only way for a true right-wing government to emerge is for voters to distance themselves from the continuing contradictory stances of Likud and to choose a new party to represent them. Gordon lists a number of left-leaning moves committed by Likud leaders in recent years, finishing with the most heinous, the Gaza disengagement. She claims that the pro-withdrawal faction "left to become Kadima." This is misleading and factually untrue. If the pro-withdrawal faction can be defined as people who publicly voted for the disengagement and its supporting bills, then this faction's rolls include Limor Livnat, Silvan Shalom, Yuval Steinitz, Gideon Saar, Gilad Erdan and of course, Binyamin Netanyahu, who consistently supported the disengagement votes and only left the government when it was already a fait accomplit. The faction that was spat out of the Likud roster included those Knesset members who actually voted against the disengagement plan, and activists like Moshe Feiglin, who convinced Likud members to vote against the plan in the referendum, which was subsequently ignored. CONVERSELY, ISRAEL Beiteinu opposed the disengagement both in the Knesset and in the government, and Avigdor Lieberman allowed himself to be fired from his ministry in order to preserve his ideals. After the Second Lebanon War, Yisrael Beytenu entered the government to shore up the army and to pass a fiscally responsible budget. Despite being members of the government, Yisrael Beytenu consistently voted against Kadima's dangerous left-wing moves, and when our opposition to the Annapolis Conference could not prevent it, activists such as myself pressured our faction to leave the government. The party respected its conscience and the will of its voters and resigned. Yisrael Beytenu showed it accountability to its voters and to its nationalist, right-wing ideals. That is true representative leadership. This is the reason that a true nationalist, Uzi Landau, joined Israel Beiteinu and abandoned the ideologically-ambiguous Likud. Gordon is correct in a number of points: if the ruling party has many seats, its coalition partners and their demands become less relevant. Also, she is correct in stating that another left-leaning government will be catastrophic for Israel. Even those with the shortest memories will recall that this was precisely the situation after the 2003 elections. Likud was given enough mandates to completely control the government and the result was the destruction of the Gaza and North Shomron towns. If Likud takes on Kadima and Labor as coalition partners, as Netanyahu intends, will the right-leaning voters see more appealing results? The only way to avoid catastrophe is to support a party with a clear set of ideals, which has shown responsibility to the right-leaning public, and which is poised to lead the nationalist camp. The right's impotence has stemmed from its blind support of an ideologically-impotent party. So do as Gordon suggests: stop whining and start voting for Israel Beiteinu. The writer is a Canadian-born member of Israel Beiteinu, headed its English-language campaign in 2006 and is a candidate for its 2009 Knesset List.