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Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Are you going with a right-wing rock 'n roll star?"

I know this was printed last wednesday, but it was just sent to me.



The Right could win it all. Here's how
By Bradley Burston


Wednesday, 22 March (6 days to Election Day)


Three years ago this week, the right was all there was.

Likud leader Ariel Sharon was at the height of his popularity as prime minister. He had just won re-election in an unprecedented landslide, crushing the left and more than doubling the Likud's strength in the Knesset, with the party controlling 40 seats.

No one had yet ever heard Sharon utter the word disengagement. Israel seemed more firmly in control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank than ever before.

On paper at least, Israel had the most right-wing government in its history. Anchored by the Likud, which was on record as opposing territorial concessions, the hard line on the Palestinians was bolstered by the settler-dominated National Religious Party and the far-right National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu.

So much for "on paper."

It has taken the Right most of the current election campaign to recover from the disengagement, and the consequent protracted recriminations that led the NRP and the National Union to feud, and the Likud to disintegrate.

In recent weeks, however, the Right has taken steps to resuscitate itself. NRP and the National Union have run a savvy, attractive campaign that has managed to reach out both to its settler/right/religious constituency and to the undecided public at large.

Avigdor Lieberman's Russian immigrant-based Yisrael Beiteinu, the National Union's former political partner on the hard right, is generally viewed as the surprise success of the current campaign. With a sharply focused yet humanizing campaign managed by former Netanyahu maestro Arthur Finkelstein, Lieberman has begun attracting votes from veteran Israelis.

Lieberman has also stayed in the news with a combination punch of novel proposals (he has volunteered to leave his settlement, Nokdim, under a plan which would cede Israeli Arab towns like Umm al-Fahm to Palestinian control) and tough pronouncements.

Earlier this month, when the IDF laid siege to the Jericho jail, Lieberman said that in order to safeguard soldiers' lives, Israel should not wait for the prisoners inside to give themselves up. Rather, he said, the air force should be ordered to bomb the facility until it was "erased," burying those still inside.

Lieberman's original mentor and patron, Netanyahu, has also hit the comeback trail hard. Reversing a campaign that had painted his tenure as finance minister in messianic tones, Netanyahu this week offered a prime time apology of sorts ["I know that some of you are still mad at me"] to his party's core constituency, the blue-collar Israelis hit hardest by his cutbacks to social welfare programs.

Does all this mean the Right could pull off one of the great upsets in Israeli politics and win it all come election day?

It might. Here's how.

1. Arab voters stay home on election day

Ironically, the overwhelmingly left-leaning Arab vote is crucial to any right-wing hopes of forming the next government.

This is because Israeli Arabs represent a substantial percentage of the voting public, and because an extraordinarily high percentage of them may refrain from voting on Tuesday.

Recent polls have shown that 46 to 50 percent of Israeli Arabs, disenchanted both with the broken promises of major parties and with the inattention and radical posturing of Arab lawmakers, may stay away from the polling places on election day.

Since the over one million Bedouin, Druze and other Arab citizens make up some 15 percent of the population, their voting potential is huge. Conversely, in the zero-sum reality of the Knesset race, every Israeli Arab who fails to vote may be effectively handing one more vote to the right wing.

2. Voter turnout on the right is astronomical

Of all of these factors, this is perhaps the most certain.

Studies have shown that rightist voters are likely to be more fervent than centrists or leftists in support of their parties of choice this time around. Thus, they are considered better bets to show a voter turnout much higher than that of the population at large.

The National Union-NRP campaign is fueled by the nation's premier organizational machine, the settlement movement, with its supporting wings in Israeli educational and religious institutions, the Yesha Council and the regional governments of the West Bank.

The highest voter turnout percentages are expected in the ultra-Orthodox parties, as senior rabbis and sages have made special efforts to mobilize yeshiva students and their communities as a whole to bring out the vote for the Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism and the Sephardi Shas.

"If they get less than 90 percent turnout," political analyst Hanan Krystal said this week, "a Commission of Inquiry should be convened."


3. The undecideds go right

Netanyahu and the Likud must attract back a critical mass of disenchanted voters for a right-wing government to be anything more than a pipe dream.

Likud strategists have thus targeted fence-sitting voters who in the past had been dyed in the wool Likudniks.

One of the primary hopes against hope on the right has been the large percentage of undecided voters, which until this week had accounted for as many as 26 of the Knesset's 120 seats.

A Haaretz-Channel 10 poll released late Tuesday showed that there had been a marked decline in undecided voters, to an equivalent total of 18 seats, but that the drop had not significantly changed the relative strengths along the political spectrum.

It had been assumed in the past that if there were a rise in terrorism just before the election, undecided voters would opt for the right, in particular the Likud. But the Likud lost most of its security figures when Ariel Sharon led his supporters out of the party late last year, and smaller right-wing parties may benefit as a result.

There has also been some evidence recently that some undecided voters are opting for Kadima, which, it may be said, is in itself something of an undecided entity.

4. Kadima voters take a victory for granted

Olmert may have been his own undoing when he said that the question of a Kadima victory was a matter not of whether the party would win, but of how big the margin would be.

Ever since Ariel Sharon suffered his massive stoke in the first week of January, there have been serious questions over the degree of commitment Kadima voters have for an Olmert-led party.

Many prospective Kadima voters, assuming that the party will win, may simply not take the trouble to vote again, shifting the center of electoral gravity a slight notch to the right.

Olmert is widely seen as a student of the Sharon rule of coalition building, neither on the left edge or the right be.

5. Lieberman wins big

Finklestein indicated this week that as surprising as Lieberman's showing has been so far, the real surprise may come next week.

In a blend of spin, sagacity and wishful thinking, the veteran campaign manager said that along with the nine or 10 seats Lieberman is expected to reap from the Russian immigrant community, Lieberman could take at least three from mainstream voters, yielding 12 or more seats.


6. The polls are wrong

The opinion survey taken this week showed Kadima with 36 Knesset seats, a marked drop from a few weeks ago, but still leading the pack by a wide margin.

Labor slid three seats in the poll to 17, and the Likud lost ground as well, down two to 14.

The polls have been wrong before, however, and by wide margins. If they are, the coalition picture may change, especially if

7. Olmert cannot field a 'Jewish majority'

Ariel Sharon's basic principle in forging coalitions was this: The ruling party, which was to say, his party, must place itself at the center of the government politically, with at least one party to its political right and at least one to its political left.

Should the polls prove wrong, and a rightist landslide present itself, the rightist bloc could gain as many as 56 seats or more, not enough to win on its own, but enough to deny Olmert what is known as a Jewish majority, or 61 Knesset seats exclusive of Arab parties.

This would effectively cancel Olmert's freedom to implement unilateral steps in the territories.

If the right scores significantly better than even its optimists expect, Olmert could be forced to opt for a government in which Kadima functions as the left margin, with the Likud, Yisrael Beitenu and the ultra-Orthodox rounding out the mix.

If all else fails

Even if Olmert wins, and wins big, the right wing could still emerge as the ultimate victor in the election. The issue of a further evacuation and withdrawal in the West Bank is, in essence, the only issue for the right wing. If, for any reason, Olmert cannot implement such a measure, and if, as expected, settlements will continue to grow, the right wing will have won.

In fact, the right may not have to lift a finger to bring this about. It is generally assumed that Olmert will be unable to effect any pullback until 2008 at the earliest. By then, there will be presidential election in the United States, and a new reality vis a vis the Palestinians.

In short, if at that point, Olmert lacks either the full support of the White House, or a clear majority at home in favor of a further withdrawal, there will be no evacuations, and the right, at least this time around, will have won.


Interesting theories, we can only hope and pray.

J.

------------------------------------------------
The possibility that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.
– Abraham Lincoln

4 Comments:

At 10:05 PM, March 26, 2006, Blogger Litvshe said...

I'm not quite sure where the Annie Hall quote comes from. Except maybe that it's said by Woody Allen, who's a real neb, like Olmert.

 
At 10:42 PM, March 26, 2006, Blogger Jerusalemcop said...

keep getting them right, Im still waiting for all your guest posts

J.

 
At 9:32 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger Avi Green said...

This is why I'm voting for the Likud tomorrow. For the right to succeed, that's why a strong leading party is needed. And I was simply devastated by the National Union's TV advertisements, which were about as bad as what they did in 1999 (even earlier, Elyakim Haetzni did something even more awful when he campaigned in 1992. Let that be a lesson, not to let petty grudges get in the way of the really meaty issues). I can't vote for the National Union after the horror that they put out. They also wasted the TV time that they could've used to explain our rights in Judea and Samaria, and the security need to hold onto Judea/Samaria as well.

So I'm voting for the Likud, as I did ten years ago.

 
At 11:07 PM, March 29, 2006, Blogger Fern Sidman said...

COMMENTARY ON ISRAELI ELECTION RESULTS

BY: FERN SIDMAN

The election results are in and the immediate future of Israel is in deep peril. Despite the low voter turnout, it appears that the Kadima, Labor and Meretz coalition has taken power with the lowest coalition majority in the history of the state.

At Mr. Olmert’s victory speech, his ominous policies were clearly vocalized. “The people have spoken clearly, they want Kadima,” Olmert boomed, adding that the dream of the Greater Land of Israel must be repudiated “and Jews, with much pain, must be evacuated.”

Olmert’s words were echoed by Shimon Peres of Kadima, who announced Tuesday night that the future coalition will be one that will promote the “turning inward” plan – a new euphemism for unilateral withdrawals that frames the forced evictions as moving outlying towns to the delineated settlement blocs.

And who is really celebrating tonight?? You guessed it. The Arabs. While they spew forth their vituperative towards the State of Israel and plan it’s destruction, our Jewish leaders fall all over themselves attempting to make “peace” with those who seek our destruction. The Arabs are also elated because the Arab parties received 10 seats in the next Knesset.

When did we ever believe that this would occur? Let us remember the words of Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZT”L who said that Arabs would eventually become a majority and quietly, democratically vote Israel out of existence. We have now witnessed the beginning of this phenomenon.

“The ultimate hope of the Arabs who dream of destroying the Jewish State, of realizing that vision, is the left-liberal camp inside Israel” Rabbi Meir Kahane - (Israel: Revolution or Referendum?, 1990, page 62)

It is also apparent that the government of Israel seeks to quell the right of free speech, a basic component of a democratic government. This was evidenced when MK Michael Kleiner of Herut came to Jaffa, in a last-minute effort to solicit Arab votes. Kleiner's supporters posted signs in Arabic in Jaffa, and in other Arab towns throughout Israel, urging Arabs to vote for him, in the upcoming Israeli national elections. Kleiner is promising to push for legislation of a law that would pay Arabs to leave Israel.

According to recent surveys, as many as 50 percent of the "Palestinians" would gladly leave Israel if they were given start-up funds to begin a new life elsewhere.

Local Arab leaders incited a riot, and police refused to allow Kleiner to come back to Jaffa. Kleiner also filed complaints against Tel Aviv Councilman Rifat Torik for incitement and his statements in support of the attacks against party activists, who Kleiner maintains were in life-threatening danger.

It is clear that anyone who proposes the idea of transfer of the Arab population is subject to harassment and arrest and severe prosecution. Anyone who attempts to promulgate the idea of self preservation of the Jewish people and the Jewish State is viewed as a villain, a criminal, a fomenter of unrest. Anyone who speaks the Torah truth, who speaks of the uniqueness of the Jewish people, who declares the Oneness and Omnipotence of the G-d of Israel is subject to ridicule, and worse, arrest and imprisonment.

The powers that be in the Israeli government cannot quash the truth. They cannot silence those whose belief in and adherence to the laws of Hashem and His Torah, are their first priority. We can no longer remain blind to the truth. And the truth is the Arabs are indeed on their way to becoming a majority in the State of Israel. Rather than being voted out of existence by the Arab in this ostensible democracy, we must raise our collective voices in protest of the impending destruction of Israel. We must summon up the strength and courage to do the will of Hashem. We must purge the malignant Arab population before it is too late. May Hashem be at our side.

 

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