The Israeli election

There were two sets of comments I found most clarifying. That Obama is an enemy of everything that is good I now take it as given. John Hinderaker at Powerline has written a post on Will Obama punish Israel for re-electing Netanyahu? in which we find the following:

The administration’s critique goes on and on, as you will see if you follow the link. The bottom line is that we now have, in the United States, an administration that is friendly to the Islamic extremists in Iran who consider us to be the “Great Satan,” who hang homosexuals from cranes, who torture and kill those who want democracy, who have ICBMs and eagerly seek nuclear weapons with which to attack us and our allies. All of that is fine with the Obama administration, apparently. But the administration is bitterly hostile to the only actual democracy in the Middle East–the one place in the region where women in burkas can vote.

There are no values on the left, only tactics. Not even hypocritical, they just want the pleasures and personal wealth that come from running things. To the extent they care about anything, they care about other people succeeding by the application of bourgeois values in their own lives. There is such hatred infused in everything they do that it must be the most miserable experience to be who they are. They never achieve a single positive thing they say they are trying to do. But their promises are taken up time and again by others many of whom prefer to vote to ratify their inner misery. They have no genuine expectation that things will get better. We must protect ourselves from these people, but pay no attention to their high-minded words. They are filled with hatreds and envy. Nothing will satisfy their nihilism because there is nothing they seek other than the harm of others.

The other comment I found very insightful was written by someone who seems to have wished the socialists to have won. It is more a strategic overview from the left side of the Israeli political spectrum, but seems to make clear what someone such as myself, living on the other side of the world, cannot so easily see. The article is After electoral trouncing, what future for the Israeli left?. Read it through, but this added quite a bit to my understanding of how Israelis look at the world and why Netanyahu won.

Why did turnout rise so dramatically? Simple: the majority of the Israeli electorate continues to distrust the left’s judgment. It is a trust deficit rooted in a more general distrust of Palestinian intentions, of the Obama White House and other touchstones of left-wing policy. In hindsight, it may be one of the bitter ironies of this campaign that Labor’s own slogan, “It’s us or him,” may have done as much to guarantee Netanyahu victory as anything Netanyahu may have done. . . .

It is true that Netanyahu explicitly “fear-mongered,” and that this won him his steep lead on Tuesday. But Netanyahu’s international critics fundamentally misunderstand his audience, his electorate, and so deeply misconstrue what exactly he was “fear-mongering” about.

Netanyahu’s critics insist that he fear-mongered about Iran and the Palestinians. He did not – because he doesn’t have to. The Israeli electorate has long ago written off Palestinian politicians as untrustworthy and unable to deliver peace. And it is Iran, not Netanyahu, that has convinced nearly all Israelis from all parts of the political spectrum that Iran is a very real danger to Israel.

All Netanyahu had to do was to warn, at times in blatantly racist terms, that the left and Arab voters were “turning out in droves.” His fear-mongering was not on the substance of the disagreement with the left – the electorate already mistrusts the left’s judgment on these issues – but simply to warn that the left might win. That alone spiked the Likud vote, even in the cold late-evening hours of Election Day.

The assumption behind the “fear-mongering” accusation is that Netanyahu is the reason Israelis are distrustful of peace initiatives or Iran deals. It is a convenient conceit, suggesting that if one could get rid of Netanyahu the problem would be solved, but it is entirely wrong. The White House’s or European Union’s policy feuds with Netanyahu are not actually with Netanyahu himself, but with the mainstream Israeli electorate that responded so forcefully on Tuesday when they were finally convinced that their country might soon be forced into dangerous new concessions or compromises in a precarious Middle East.

Obama hates Israel. Well so do others. The election was a judgement by Israelis on how to deal with the world they live in, that includes the vicious hostility of the American President. Who knows what the future will bring, but this was, in my view anyway, the least worst answer where there are no really good ones.

AND ANOTHER TAKE ON THE ELECTION: Here is a different view by Meyrav Wurmser who seems more closely tied to the Likud and even the religious side of the Israeli constituency. First this, which I had not known:

The majority of the religious Zionist camp, however, spoke of continuing the partnership with the state but under different terms. They believed that it was time for the religious Zionists, who until then had treated the authorities of the secular Zionist state with great reverence and admiration, to begin demanding leadership positions in government. As one of the leaders of the religious Zionist camp described it to me during an interview shortly after the disengagement, they no longer wanted to be the guy who checks if the kosher rules are kept in the restaurant cabin of the Zionist train. They now wanted to be the driver of the train. They would no longer play a humble second fiddle in the secular state’s orchestra but would choose the music and conduct. That was the only sure way for them to prevent further disengagements.

The decade that has passed since the disengagement has seen the settler movement working relentlessly toward this goal. Within a few years, they have become the primary foundation of the IDF’s officer corps. Their children volunteered in disproportionate numbers in all the elite units and became top pilots, paratroopers, and commandos serving on the front line. As a result, they also suffered a disproportionate number of casualties in the military. Gradually, the religious Zionist community and its skullcap-wearing youth replaced the secular youth of the kibbutzim as the core of Israel’s defense forces. The religious Zionist camp won much admiration and sympathy among large segments of the Israeli public, which now regarded it as the unwavering embodiment of Zionist principles.

But this really worries me. The left seems to be the same everywhere, but in most places it is not quite as suicidal as it would be in Israel. Here is how the article ends:

Ironically, as the settler movement engaged in soul-searching and spent the last decade reinventing itself in ways that Israel’s mainstream center would tolerate and perhaps even admire, the Left is moving in the opposite direction. Instead of asking what went wrong and looking to find a strategy for winning back the Israeli people, most of the commentators on the left in the past 24 hours have retreated into bitterness and elitist condescension toward the Israeli people. The most popular Facebook page today in Israel is a leftist attempt to punish Israel’s south, which voted heavily for Likud. Referring to Israelis, Alona Kimhi, a popular author on the left, wrote: “Every people has the leadership it deserves. Long live stupidity, evil and false consciousness. Drink some cyanide, . . . Neanderthals.” And Gideon Levi of Haaretz wrote that Israel should hold another election, to elect not a new leader but a different people. Instead of asking why they lost touch with the Israeli people, the Left is washing its hands of them, which is hardly an effective strategy for winning future elections.

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Do they think they live in New York? What can they possibly be thinking that I can’t see myself? I just don’t get it at all.

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