Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever!

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Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever!

Postby Storyteller » Fri Mar 13, 2015 1:19 pm

So, in keeping with the old tradition I am posting an Israeli elections guide for this year, to give those interested an "inside" look in order to counterbalance the sheer amount of nonsense being published by the "outside" media.

Main election themes:

This year's elections are focused on three main subjects, more or less in the following order of importance:

1- Binyamin Netanyahu's performance as Prime Minister over the last 6 years

2- Cost of living

3- Security

1- The main subject of elections for most parties - and people - seems to be whether or not "Bibi has to go home". That appears to arise from the fact that Netanyahu has been in the picture for so long (he is actually the second longest-serving head of state in the history of Israel after David Ben-Gurion) that at this point all the flaws of the Israeli governing system, economy and society in general are - rightfully or otherwise - perceived as his fault at least to some degree. Most of the campaigns run by the center-left (and the foreign-funded "non-partisan" groups) are either straightforward attacks on Netanyahu personally or somewhat more euphemistic but transparent calls for a "change" (the Hebrew word being used suggests replacing something rather than changing a quality of something).

2 - In recent years, the main complaint of the Israeli public has become the "cost of living". Every few months there is a major scandal when one newspaper or another publishes comparison of food prices between US, Europe and Israel, usually showing Israeli food as being several times more expensive. Another common complaint is housing costs; renting or buying an apartment in Israel is expensive even by middle class standards.

3 - Security is a perpetual concern in Israel, for obvious reasons. Recent developments such Hamas' tunneling under the Gaza border and the gains of Islamic State on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights worry a lot of people. Many have been left disgruntled at Gaza war's premature ending and limited gains, and that's going to drive their vote.

The Likud Civil War

One interesting factor, almost completely ignored by the foreign media, is that these elections's main figures are almost all present or past Likud members. That includes Tzipi Livni, Moshe Kahlon, Avigdor Lieberman,Naftali Bennett and, last but not least, Reuven Rivlin - the President of Israel who will decide whom to award the right to form governing coalition. Many of them have left the Likud either after the split initiated by Ariel Sharon or due to a feud with Netanyahu.

Parties:

The Israeli electoral map is always dynamic. Some of the old parties stay around, some new ones get formed, some fuse together and some disintegrate. This year has seen some most interesting changes yet. Most significantly, the electoral barrier (number of votes necessary for a party to make it into the Knesset) has been raised to 3.25%.

Likud - The center-right governing party to which Benyamin Netanyahu belongs. Weakened by past splintering, it lost much of its core support over the last few years. The Likud as a party is not terribly popular at present - but Netanyahu, its leader, is widely seen as the most capable Prime Minister candidate on offer, even if largely due to lack of viable alternatives. The Likid's campaigning focuses mainly on contrasting Netanyahu's reputation with the lack of experience of his main rival, Isaac Herzog, and the disastrous record of Herzog's partner, Tzipi Livni. The Likid was up until recently running a head-to-head race with Labor as far as expected number of seats, but they lose a lot of votes to the two rising stars of Israeli politics - Jewish Home's Naftali Bennet and Kulanu's Moshe Kahlon. Netanyahu has also worsened his party's standing by heavy-handed interference into the process of apppointing the jury of the Israel Prize in literature, which led to the cancellation of the Israel Prize this year as all judges pulled out. (Another high-impact event that had no mentions whatsoever in foreign press). In the last poll, Likud was expected to receive 21 seats in the Knesset. (Hard to tell if it's more or fewer than before as the Likud ran in 2013 together with Lieberman's Israel Our Home).

Zionist Camp- An awkwardly branded merger of Labor and Hatnua parties, currently under leadership of Isaac Herzog. Outside of Labor's inner circle Herzog is largely an unknown quantity and his record is meager. He lacks a personal charisma to the point that he felt compelled to ask voters to not dismiss him just because of his shrill voice, and his photos for elections campaign were airbrushed to make him appear older than he really is. For elections Herzog has partnered with Tzipi Livni who, scarcely worth any votes herself at this point, provides him with the backing of someone with actual experience in political affairs. Should Zionist Camp win the elections, Herzog and Livni are expected to rotate as Prime Ministers after 2 years. Zionist Camp is running an aggressive negative campaign against Netanyahu for his handling of economy, diplomacy and relationship with Barack Obama. The attacks are backed up by unrealistically grand promises of social and economic change (one of the Labor posters I've seen said "Zero poor elderly citizens in one year - or him!"). Occasionally, Herzog injects into this mix mentions of "the need to restart the diplomatic process", which is the most mention that the "Palestinian issue" gets in these elections outside of the Arab parties and Meretz. In the last poll, Zionist Camp was expected to win 25 seats. (A considerable gain from 17 in 203)

Jewish Home - Progeny of the National-Religious Party (MAFDAL), Jewish Home is the party representing secular and modern Orthodox right-wingers. Its leader, Naftali Bennett, is perhaps the most interesting personality on the Israeli political scene right now. A son of American immigrants, Bennett's is a veteran of an elite combat unit and a self-made multi-millionaire who founded and managed several successful start-ups. He is known as an extremely effective speaker in both Hebrew and English; his aggressive, unapologetic style and sharp-witted rebuttals to both foreign reporters and Israeli political rivals earned him considerable popularity. Bennett is a straightforward opponent of the Palestinian state who believes that the conflict cannot be resolved and Israel should learn to live with the perpetual Palestinian hostility ("I have a friend who's got shrapnel in his butt, and he's been told that it can be removed surgically but it would leave him disabled... So he decided to live with it. There are situations where insisting on perfection can lead to more trouble than it's worth."). He is a believer in a free capitalist economy and an implacable foe of monopolies, both government and of the tycoons. As an Economy Minister, Bennett pushed for a "pivot" from reliance on Europe as Israel's primary export market to greater ties with China and India. Bennett is also credited with implementing reforms to lower Israeli food prices and with helping decrease unemployment among Arab women. On the flip side, Bennett is opposed to same-sex marriage and generally avoids having to deal with the issue of homosexuality in any way. By the polls, Jewish Home is expected to win 11 seats, one less than they currently hold (although I think their performance is being underestimated). Bennett's slogan is "Let's stop apologizing".

Yesh Atid - Surprise success of 2013, the single-issue party founded by famous TV host Yair Lapid and brought to power by grand promises of lowering the cost of living and helping the middle class. Having gotten the Finance Minister portfolio he wanted, Lapid was forced to implement harsh austerity measures. He turned out to be a pretty good Finance minister and successfully reduced government deficit by half in two years, but his crowning achievement - law that would free first-time apartment buyers from paying the value-added tax - never materialized. Yesh Atid is expected to fall to 13 seats from the 19 they currently hold.

Israel Our Home - The secular right-wing party led by Avigdor Lieberman has split from the Likud yet again due to disagreement of how last year's war should have been handled. Lieberman has been completely eclipsed in his role as right-wing alternative to Netanyahu by the younger, more dynamic, better spoken Naftali Bennett, and his party's popularity has been decimated. Polls promise Lieberman only 4 Knesset seats, which means that if he falls any lower he might not enter the Knesset at all.

United Arab List - The higher electoral threshhold forced Israel's Arab parties to unite in an awkward alliance of Communists, Islamists and Palestinian nationalists. The nominal leader is Ayman Odeh - a softly spoken man who talks on TV about integration and Arab rights but finds himself unable to repudiate the odious pro-terrorist views of his political bedfellows. The party does not appear to have much of a coherent agenda other than scaring their voters with caricatures of Lieberman and Bennett. They do not intend to be part of even the most left-wing government and refused to sign a vote-sharing agreement with the far-left Meretz.

Kulanu - A new player in the field, Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu was formed only in November but is already running strong. Kulanu is a single-issue party similar to Yesh Atid, focusing on cost-of-living issues. Kahlon is tremendously popular as the man behind the wireless communications market reform that sharply brought down the mobile phone prices. He also authored a bill that reduced electricity prices for the poor, and fought a long (and unsuccessful) war to lower the bank fees. Kahlon's party has managed to attract popular personalities such as famous historian and former Israeli ambassador to the USA Michael Oren, Major General Yoav Galant and women's rights activist Rachel Azaria. Kulanu is predicted to receive 10 seats.

United Torah Judaism - The party representing Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews, an inevitable presence on the popitical spectrum with utterly predictable agenda and results. They are expected to get 6 seats, down from 7 they currently hold.

Shas - Once the kingmaker who made or broke governing coalitions, the party representing Sephardic-origin ultra-Orthodox and poor has been steadily losing ground as mixed Ashkenazi-Sephardi marriages predominate and the sub-ethnic background of Israelis is becoming hard to pinpoint. The party was further damaged by the death of its spiritual leader, Ovadia Yosef, and the fierce war for leadership that followed. The party's legendary leader, Arye Deri, is out of prison (taking bribes while serving as an Interior minister) and in charge again. He added his mother's maiden name, Mahlouf, to his last name in order for it to sound more "Moroccan". Meanwhile, Eli Yishay, who led Shas during Deri's jail term has split from the party and founded a rival party called Yachad. To top it all, a movement of ultra-Orthodox women arouse within Shas threatening to boycott the elections if women are not represented on the ballot. Shas is expected to end up with 7 seats, down from 11 right now.

Yachad - The splinter group from Shas headed by Eli Yishay competes with Shas for the Sephardic religious vote. It is expected to receive 5 seats.

Meretz - The far-Left party that's all about peace now at all costs, dismantling settlements, minority rights and social justice. Despite attempts to ride the wave of popular cost-of-living tent protests (the forerunners of the Occupy movement), Meretz is expected to fall from 6 to 5 seats.

To be continued...
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:37 pm

Thank you, Storyteller.

Do you think the cost-of-living issue is the one that will loom largest in the minds of voters?

Also something struck me while reading: you mention that "restarting the diplomatic process" is the most reference that Palestinian issues receive outside the Arab parties, and yet "security" is one of the top issues of concern among all Israelis. Is it fair to say that the Israeli electorate does not see these two things as conjoined? Or is compartmentalization and reduction to 'sound bites' just a property of the electoral process (as it is here)?
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Sat Mar 14, 2015 1:21 am

Jnyusa wrote:Thank you, Storyteller.

Do you think the cost-of-living issue is the one that will loom largest in the minds of voters?

Absolutely. Security plays a role but cost of living is the big issue.

Also something struck me while reading: you mention that "restarting the diplomatic process" is the most reference that Palestinian issues receive outside the Arab parties, and yet "security" is one of the top issues of concern among all Israelis. Is it fair to say that the Israeli electorate does not see these two things as conjoined? Or is compartmentalization and reduction to 'sound bites' just a property of the electoral process (as it is here)?

I think at this point much of the public thinks that there's little to nothing that "restarting the diplomatic process" would do to tackle Israel's main security challenges - whether Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah, Iran or ISIS. The West Bank is not currently a security issue, not of the same magnitude anyway. There's also an understanding that the "diplomatic process" in its current form is not a negotiation with the Palestinians per se. The Palestinians are not negotiating in any sense. The "diplomatic process" is something we "have to do" in order to appeace Obama and the Europeans.
Last edited by Storyteller on Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:07 pm

OK, that makes sense to me. Thanks.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Mon Mar 16, 2015 2:57 am

How the votes will become Knesset seats


Edited by White Council Moderator to fix a broken link
Last edited by heliona on Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Correcting a typo in the BBCode
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:31 am

"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:58 pm

Bibi will be back. Even though reports that I have seen suggest it is too close to call, it seems clear to me as an outsider that Netanyahu has the much easier path towards forming a coalition.

I express no opinion as to whether that is a good thing.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Hobbit_Guy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:11 pm

Voronwe_the_Faithful wrote:Bibi will be back. Even though reports that I have seen suggest it is too close to call, it seems clear to me as an outsider that Netanyahu has the much easier path towards forming a coalition.

It seems you were right: Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival in Israeli Elections
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:06 am

Yes, Netanyahu has won and then some. And to think that just on Monday, fewer than 50% of Israelis believed that Bibi would be the one forming the governing coalition.

The voting turnout was highest since the 1999 elections, in which Netanyahu was defeated by Ehud Barak.

Last pre-election polls predicted that the Likud would fall to 20-21 seats, yet Netanyahu emerged victorious with a whopping 30. This is not as big a victory for the Israeli Right as it appears though. The total seat number of the right-wing parties bloc increased maybe by one seat. Most of the Likud's gains were apparently due to successfully siphoning away the votes that were expected to go to Bennett, Kahlon and Lapid. I think Herzog became the victim of his own hype - once a 4-5 seat gap began to open between the Likid and Zionist Camp, the media began to portray Netanyahu's loss as such a done deal that many people realized that they could not afford to vote for minor parties if they wanted to keep the Left out of power.

The Zionist Camp finished with 24 seats. At the last moment, Tzipi Livni declared that she would waive her right of rotation should her party's head become Prime Minister, which was widely interpreted as a sign of them preparing to enter a national unity government. Their chief campaign strategist, Reuven Adler, is already on record claiming that the "anyone but Bibi" campaign was not his idea. Herzog has already conceded defeat and called Netanyahu to congratulate him.

The Joint Arab List has become the third-biggest party with 14 seats, up from the combined 11 that the Arab parties held separately in 2013.

Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party received 11 seats.

Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party received 10 seats.

Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home retained the 8 seats it held since 2013.

Lieberman's Israel Our Home survived and even somewhat prospered, receiving 6 seats.

United Torah Judaism and Shas have both received 7 seats.

Meretz dropped to 4 seats as predicted, and the party leader, Zahava Gal-On, resigned from the Knesset.


There are now two ways the governing coalition may be formed: either a right-wing bloc with religious parties or a national unity government.

The right-wing bloc may have some difficulty reaching the necessary 61 seats. The Likud, Lieberman and Bennett together is 44 seats; they would need 17 more seats. UTJ and Shas together only give 14 seats. Yair Lapid will not sit in the same government with the ultra-Orthodox, however, as one of the cornerstones of his party is opposing ultra-Orthodox exemption from army service. So the viability of right-wing-religious coalition would hinge entirely on Kahlon.

Another option would be a "national unity government", meaning the Likud and the Zionist Camp governing together. Such governments are not unheard of in Israel, although they are generally less productive and rarely stable. Likud, Zionist Camp and either Lapid or Kahlon's party would have enough seats to form a coalition.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:37 am

Storyteller wrote:Last pre-election polls predicted that the Likud would fall to 20-21 seats, yet Netanyahu emerged victorious with a whopping 30. This is not as big a victory for the Israeli Right as it appears though. The total seat number of the right-wing parties bloc increased maybe by one seat. Most of the Likud's gains were apparently due to successfully siphoning away the votes that were expected to go to Bennett, Kahlon and Lapid. I think Herzog became the victim of his own hype - once a 4-5 seat gap began to open between the Likid and Zionist Camp, the media began to portray Netanyahu's loss as such a done deal that many people realized that they could not afford to vote for minor parties if they wanted to keep the Left out of power.


From the reporting that I was seeing before the election (obviously not as comprehensive from the outside as from the inside), Netanyahu very successfully emphasized this idea, exhorting more conservative voters to vote for Likud rather than one of the other parties on the Right to avoid a "left-wing disaster" and playing up on fears of a global conspiracy (and also racial hatred against Arab voters). Whatever else one thinks of Netanyahu, it must be acknowledged that he is a master politician.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:46 pm

Voronwe_the_Faithful wrote:From the reporting that I was seeing before the election (obviously not as comprehensive from the outside as from the inside), Netanyahu very successfully emphasized this idea, exhorting more conservative voters to vote for Likud rather than one of the other parties on the Right to avoid a "left-wing disaster" and playing up on fears of a global conspiracy (and also racial hatred against Arab voters).

Whatever else one thinks of Netanyahu, it must be acknowledged that he is a master politician.

Which is more than could be said for his opponents, in Israel and outside.

What you're saying is both true and not, mostly because you're putting a maximum-negativity spin on it all. That a left-wing government would be a disaster is a fairly widespread and -in my view- accurate opinion held here by many, and the declarations of imminent Herzog triumph did spur many - even long-time non-voters - to support the Likud. The "fears of global conspiracy" were anything but unfounded - it's an open secret that the US administration and the Europeans sought to oust Netanyahu and that the previously unknown non-profits guided by former Obama campaign advisors and running foreign-shot ads against the sitting government were not a domestic Israeli creation. The claims of bussing Arab voters en masse to polling stations are also quite true, with V15 openly boasting their amazing job at "getting out the vote". Arabs are citizens here and have every right to vote, but it's not "racial hatred" to observe that a foreign non-profit heavily promoting voting of a specific social sector does not leave a good impression.

What really happened is that many of the people who planned to vote for Bennett and for the single-issue cost-of-living parties felt that Netanyahu's victory was assured and the real problem was "keeping him on the right track". Bennett's own campaign said at one point that the question wasn't whether Netanyahu would win, but rather who he would sit with. When the scales appeared to tip towards Herzog- and the Left camp has put up a huge show to make it appear so because it helped energize their voting base - these "opportunity voters" shifted back to the Likud. The same happened with the undecided, of whom there were many. I should know it, I was one of the undecided, wanted to stay home till the last moment because none of the parties appealed to me enough to drag my ill self out to cast the ballot. I saw the news reports about "Arabs bussed to polling stations" well after I already voted (which was in the afternoon), and I doubt they made much impact on anyone not glued to their car radio.

I also think that the polls were slanted - deliberately or otherwise - towards the Left in order to energize the Leftist camp and gain votes. There's a lot of questions in the media right now regarding why even the exit polls on election day completely failed to predict the actual outcome. The fact that the Likud dominated in 8 out of 10 of Israel's major cities prove that the victory was foreseeable, it just wasn't foreseen.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:21 pm

Storyteller wrote:I also think that the polls were slanted - deliberately or otherwise - towards the Left in order to energize the Leftist camp and gain votes.


If so (and they certainly were wrong to a very high degree), it appears to have had exactly the opposite effect.

I won't bother to respond to the rest of your post, not because "I'm right and you're wrong" but because our perspectives are just too different to have any further dialogue. We see largely the same facts, but we see them very differently.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:11 am

The vote counts are still ongoing. They are counting the "double envelopes - absentee ballots, votes by overseas diplomats, soldiers, prisoners, hospital patients etc. The final tally will be published today but it is already known that the United Arab List lost one seat (now 13), UTJ lost one (now 6) and Meretz gained one (now 5).
Netanyahu is currently trying to form a government, and it seems like he is going for a "narrow coalition" - as in exclusively right-wing and religious parties. He has four weeks to do it and theoretically can request a two week extension, but he will try really hard to finish by the Independence Day eve on April 22,
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:32 am

Here's another little something that did not make it into the foreign media's coverage of Israeli elections.

Less than two weeks before elections, there was an anti-Netanyahu rally at which the famous artist Yair Gerbuz derided the Israeli right as "mezuzah-kissers, idol worshippers and bowers at the graves of saints". This caused considerable outrage as it was seen as an attack on customs widespread among Sephardic-origin religious Jews. Gerbuz refused to retract the statement in his later interviews. This was followed up by a highly publicized interview by playwright Yehoshua Sobol, who sought to defend Gerbuz by saying that "“whoever kisses mezuzas, that’s his problem... There are stupid people in all different population groups”. Herzog attempted to distance himself from the comments at the time. Yesterday, he blamed Gerbuz's speech as being partially responsible for the Left's election defeat.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:18 pm

Do you think it was partially responsible for the defeat?
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Sat Mar 21, 2015 10:15 am

I think it played a role, but it wasn't the main reason.

The Israeli Left has a history of shooting itself in the foot by displaying disdain for minorities, which is one of the reasons why the non-Orthodox Mizrahi Jews generally vote for the Likud. Most famously, in 1981 the popular TV host Dudu Topaz addressed a Labor party pre-election rally by expressing joy that no "shoe-shiners" (then-common insult to Middle Eastern-origin Jews) were in attendance, and that tipped the very close elections towards the Likud, which won by a mere 400 votes.

I do think that a lot of people were outraged by Gerbuz' speech and that Naftali Bennett made good use of it, positioning his party as the natural home of "mezuzah kissers". But I think it was just one of the many symptoms of the Left's general tone-deafness and disconnect from the Israel outside of the "Tel Aviv bubble".

I'm seeing two main reactions of the left-wing voters to the defeat. The most common one by far is anger to the point of viciousness, manifested in the viral campaign called "Lo Latet" ("Do not give") that is sweeping through the social media. My Facebook feed is awash with reposts of declarations by leftists that from now on, they will not donate a single penny to the poor because the poor and the unemployed failed them by voting the wrong way. Some are declaring that the next time they get a Tzav 8 (emergency summon to reserve duty, usually when there's a war), they're staying home. I'll translate one of the most frequently reposted such declarations:

From this day on, I want quiet. From this day on, let everyone take care of themselves. Don't tell me about the minimum wages, about the people who cannot last till the end of the month or about the layoffs in the south. I don't want to hear about the hungry children and the troubles of single mothers, about disgruntles temporary workers and about diminishing pensions. Don't preach to me about how "the people have spoken, the majority decides". I know what democracy is, but from this day on, it's everyone for themselves. No more TV reports about collapsing small businesses and about tycoons eating away at our pension funds, no more newspaper articles about overcrowded hospitals, exhausted doctors and too many children per class. Don't read to me the percentage of children in the south passing graduation exams and the statistics of poverty, wealth and what-the-hell-ever else. Don't call me asking for donations and don't tell me how bad your life is, just live with it. We are big kids, we were given a vote, the people had their say, good day Israel and better day yet Tel Aviv.

This was shared on Facebook by two of my superiors at work, so I am biting my tongue there, but that apparently was the attitude. They thought they had the poor in the south bought by displays of concern, occasional donations and by blaming the cost of living on Netanyahu, and they feel betrayed that these ungrateful people allowed their vote to be driven by concerns about the Hamas rocket threat from Gaza (which no one from Lo Latet wants to mention).

It generally gets worse the further left it goes, to the point of a certain popular writer posting on her Facebook that the Israeli people are "neanderthals" who should "drink cyanide" and Haaretz writers declaring that the people of Israel have discredited themselves and should be replated (yes, full-on and unironic channeling of Die Losung).

The other attitude, minority one, is shock at the realization of disconnect between the Left and the rest of the country. Some people suddenly realize that the reason they were so convinced that Herzog would win is because everyone they knew were voting Labor or Meretz. Fully one third of the Israeli population voted for the Right, and a great many of the Left don't even known anybody from that group. That disconnect is largely why they lost; they were preaching to the choir the entire time and did not even begin to understand the opinions and the needs of the rest of the population.

The truth is that Netanyahu would have won even had he gotten fewer seats than Herzog. As I already mentioned, the difference in number of seats between the Left vs. Right camp has grown larger by only one seat, so even if the Likud got 20 seats as per polls and the remaining ones went to Bennett, Kahlon et al, the electoral math would still favor the Right - because the Left and Center would still come up short of 61 seats once coalition-forming began. In 2009, Netanyahu became Prime Minister as the head of the second-largest party in exactly that way. The Left's real task was to win votes from the traditionally right-wing constituencies, and they did absolutely nothing that would appeal to them.

Both Labor and the Likud ran negative campaigns against each other, but the Labor's accusations against Netanyahu elicited little more than a shrug among most people not already beholden to the Left. They've offered nothing whatsoever on the subjects of Hamas and Iran, their promises of better diplomacy did not specify what precisely they could do differently from what Netanyahu did, and their insistence that they would "repair relations with the USA" were so devoid of specifics that in the eyes of the public they pretty much confirmed Netanyahu's accusations that they would give in to Obama's every whim. On economy, they made promises so grand that no one could seriously buy into them (like the "zero poor among elderly within one year" posters I've mentioned before). The V15 and other American involvement had the effect of putting the Israeli Left's dependence on foreign funding on display. And then, of course, they were unable to show that their insistence on "restarting the diplomatic process" would take into account Palestinian belligerence and the betrayals of the Oslo process' guarantors, European and American alike. Even the slightest hint of withdrawing from any territory will be impossible to sell for the Israeli public without solid guarantees - as in more than just signatures on paper - that it will not end up like the withdrawal from Gaza. The problem is that there's no one left who could be trusted to provide such guarantees.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:21 pm

Thanks!
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:53 am

That was a really interesting analysis, Storyteller, and ... I suspect it's spot on.

I hear strong echoes in the disconnect of US progressives. By the same token I can understand the severe frustration of the left in Israel which I think is probably shared by a lot of progressives here in the US - the incomprehensibility of those who most need a more enlightened and imaginative government going to the polls and feeding the hand that bites them. But without an articulated (and respectful) alternative the balance of power is not going to change.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Sun Mar 22, 2015 1:31 pm

Jnyusa wrote:That was a really interesting analysis, Storyteller, and ... I suspect it's spot on.

I hear strong echoes in the disconnect of US progressives. By the same token I can understand the severe frustration of the left in Israel which I think is probably shared by a lot of progressives here in the US - the incomprehensibility of those who most need a more enlightened and imaginative government going to the polls and feeding the hand that bites them. But without an articulated (and respectful) alternative the balance of power is not going to change.

I'll tell you this: if you believe that you know those other people's needs better than they do, chances are you don't respect them and it'll show. To tell someone that they don't know what's good for them is to talk down to them. And no matter how well articulated one might be, candor can't be faked.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:06 pm

I don't think I'd be going too far out on a limb saying that they want jobs, more upward mobility than they have right now, better access to training and education, and a shot at accruing some wealth.

It's also not much of a mystery where those things come from.

In Isael there's also the security consideration, but even that has its parallels among urbanites in the US who want desperately not to lose their children to drive-by shootings.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:06 am

Jnyusa wrote:I don't think I'd be going too far out on a limb saying that they want jobs, more upward mobility than they have right now, better access to training and education, and a shot at accruing some wealth.

In other words, you would expect them to limit their ambitions to their wallets. Having opinions on more complicated matters of policy, foreign or domestic, is the exclusive prerogative of those already possessing enough wealth.

The poor and the disadvantaged might see themselves and their needs differently from the way you see them.

It's also not much of a mystery where those things come from.

It's more of a mystery to some than to others, in my experience.

A while ago I had an interesting discussion about the cost of living thing. Some people don't seem to understand the direct contradictions between demanding to displace hundreds of thousands of people from the "settlements" and demands for cheaper housing. The same people don't seem to understand the contradiction between complaints about the costs of food and protests against layoffs in the agricultural areas in the Negev.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:55 am

Storyteller wrote:In other words, you would expect them to limit their ambitions to their wallets. Having opinions on more complicated matters of policy, foreign or domestic, is the exclusive prerogative of those already possessing enough wealth.


What a cynic you are!

Who in Israel, or anywhere else, gets a direct vote on foreign policy? You said yourself this vote was mainly about domestic issues.

Anyway, self-actualization is not the province of governments. After equalizing access to income and wealth as much as possible, no government has any business telling people what to want.

A while ago I had an interesting discussion about the cost of living thing. Some people don't seem to understand the direct contradictions between demanding to displace hundreds of thousands of people from the "settlements" and demands for cheaper housing. The same people don't seem to understand the contradiction between complaints about the costs of food and protests against layoffs in the agricultural areas in the Negev.


Optimizing across multiple constraints is complex and painful. What is required of leadership, in my opinion, since it is not their business to tell us what to want, is to mobilize the rationality of its constituents so that they understand such trade-offs and can at least make their choices knowing what the costs are.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:26 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:In other words, you would expect them to limit their ambitions to their wallets. Having opinions on more complicated matters of policy, foreign or domestic, is the exclusive prerogative of those already possessing enough wealth.


What a cynic you are!

Who in Israel, or anywhere else, gets a direct vote on foreign policy? You said yourself this vote was mainly about domestic issues.

My electricity tariff went up 30% in 2013 when the Israeli electrical company wrote off NIS 730 million of Palestinian debt as uncollectable. The Palestinians do not pay for the electricity supplied to them. The debt cannot be collected because the Obama administration prevented Israel from withholding Palestinian tax funds in order to cover the outstanding debt, and cutting off power to the Palestinians would cause worldwide whine. Is that a domestic issue or a foreign policy one?

More interesting, though, is the question of why you don't believe that people who aren't well-off economically might still have good reasons to see a vote on political issues as a higher priority.

Optimizing across multiple constraints is complex and painful. What is required of leadership, in my opinion, since it is not their business to tell us what to want, is to mobilize the rationality of its constituents so that they understand such trade-offs and can at least make their choices knowing what the costs are.

People are not rational, and leadership does not generally succeed by "mobilizing rationality".
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:02 am

Storyteller wrote:More interesting, though, is the question of why you don't believe that people who aren't well-off economically might still have good reasons to see a vote on political issues as a higher priority.


Even more interesting is the question of why you think that people who are not economically well-off don't want economic opportunity. They must be ... too lazy to work hard? That's the caveat of the right, isn't it? Poor people are content to sit on their backsides as long as they have a venue for their long list of complaints about the world?

Me, I think that if you want to see real contempt for the aspirations of people who actually exist, turn right.

People are not rational, and leadership does not generally succeed by "mobilizing rationality".


A timely example of the contempt I'm talking about.

p.s. President Obama has absolutely nothing to do with the electricity problem in the West Bank and Gaza. Where the heck do claims like that come from?
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:53 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:More interesting, though, is the question of why you don't believe that people who aren't well-off economically might still have good reasons to see a vote on political issues as a higher priority.


Even more interesting is the question of why you think that people who are not economically well-off don't want economic opportunity. They must be ... too lazy to work hard? That's the caveat of the right, isn't it? Poor people are content to sit on their backsides as long as they have a venue for their long list of complaints about the world?

Me, I think that if you want to see real contempt for the aspirations of people who actually exist, turn right.

I am one of those people who goes in and out of red every once in a while. Do go ahead and tell me what I think and believe.

People who aren't economically well-off want economic opportunity, but it's not the only thing they want. They are not the one-dimensional frustrated consumer stereotypes the Left seems to think they should be. Poor people value things other than money and will often put those other things above a promise of economic opportunity. They are also pretty good at seeing through empty promises, having been scammed with those plenty of times, and oftentimes they get pretty tired of the dream peddlers.

A short while ago, Russian polling agency Levada Center ran a poll that asked, among other things, whether people preferred Russia as a great power feared and respected by the rest of the world, or as a second-tier state with a higher level of prosperity for citizens. The votes split 49% to 47%. Fully a half of Russian population is willing to sacrifice some degree of personal prosperity for a boost to collective greatness of the Russian state.

This is neither strange nor unique. The poorer class' fate is tied much closer to their country and its people. The vast majority of them does not have an exit plan in case the place goes to the dogs. They have no real estate abroad, no second citizenship, no business connections that would allow them to land on their feet in a new society. They are also the ones on the front line of any crisis. In Israel of the 1990-s, the majority of victims of suicide bombers were working class people - people who commuted by bus and ate at open-air fast food stands. A well-off Leftist from the Tel Aviv bubble who lived in and out of his car did not have the same degree of acute awareness of the Oslo process' bloody price as a blue-collar guy taking the bus twice a day. So the economically disadvantaged people are oftentimes more, not less, politically aware than the middle class. They know that things like foreign policy can impact them in more ways than their wallet.

Poorer people are also more conscious of identity issues. They are a lot more tribal, in a sense, and a lot more traditional, and they will sacrifice a lot in order to defend their identity and their traditions and beliefs. This, too, is a form of self-interest that makes more sense than the wealthier classes realize.

People are not rational, and leadership does not generally succeed by "mobilizing rationality".


A timely example of the contempt I'm talking about.

Reading comprehension issues again, I see.

I am declaring, quite firmly, my contempt for the pretense of rationality as the driver of human decisions and beliefs, not rationality of a particular set of people. People in general are not rational in their beliefs but rather usually backwards-rationalize beliefs arrived to by means other than reason.

p.s. President Obama has absolutely nothing to do with the electricity problem in the West Bank and Gaza. Where the heck do claims like that come from?

Memory.

P.S. Haaretz has an article with the demographic analysis of the Israeli vote distribution. The result, basically, is that the rich voted Left, everybody else voted Right.

Herzog and Livni's Zionist Camp won in all but 3 of the 21 wealthiest communities in Israel, but only 5 of the 56 middle-wealth communities. Among the 73 poorest communities, the Likud won in 52.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Storyteller wrote:People who aren't economically well-off want economic opportunity, but it's not the only thing they want.


Did I say it was the only thing they want?

Maybe if you bothered to stick to what real people on this board actually say, our discussions would make better progress.
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Fri Mar 27, 2015 5:03 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:People who aren't economically well-off want economic opportunity, but it's not the only thing they want.


Did I say it was the only thing they want?

Maybe if you bothered to stick to what real people on this board actually say, our discussions would make better progress.

Are you seriously saying it after having just typed that I "think that people who are not economically well-off don't want economic opportunity"?

Maybe if you took your own advice, our discussions would indeed make better progress.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Billobob » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:23 pm

Will America's agreement with Iran have any influence on this election, because Netanyahu seems pretty concerned about it?
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Jnyusa » Fri Mar 27, 2015 7:36 pm

Storyteller wrote:Are you seriously saying it after having just typed that I "think that people who are not economically well-off don't want economic opportunity"?


My post was different from yours?
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Re: Israeli elections guide 2015 - more perplexing than ever

Postby Storyteller » Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:15 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Storyteller wrote:Are you seriously saying it after having just typed that I "think that people who are not economically well-off don't want economic opportunity"?


My post was different from yours?

Yes. Yes it was.
"...Their aim in war with Germany is nothing more, nothing less than extermination of Hitlerism... There is absolutely no justification for this kind of war. The ideology of Hitlerism, just like any other ideological system, can be accepted or rejected, this is a matter of political views. But everyone grasps, that an ideology can not be exterminated by force, must not be finished off with a war.” - Vyacheslav Molotov, ""On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet Union", 31 October 1939
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