"Anti-Bibi" hatred must be stopped, and apologies are in order
The Likud and Israel's National Union-National Religious Party lost because they gave the impression to the Israeli public that they cared only about themselves.There you have it in example. Because the National Union-NRP was acting so incredibly self-concerned, yet at the same time implying that they only cared about their own Knesset seats, they were damaged. But that said, even the Likud, it's true, failed to act properly by not holding any public meetings with the residents of towns and cities like Sderot and Ashkelon. And they wasted precious advertising time by refusing to address the solid issues behind what the Oslo agreement led to.
The disastrous results for the Likud and Israel's national-religious camp in the Israeli elections conveyed a clear message to the people who are associated with those two sectors: you are arrogant and you have isolated yourselves from the people of Israel.
The outreach campaign of the National Union and the national-religious camp articulately addressed the suffering of Israelis who were evicted from their homes in Gush Katif and Samaria; yet, they were without a word as to the suffering endured by economically depressed Israeli development towns that border Gaza in the Negev, which now live under daily artillery bombardment as a direct result of Israel's hasty retreat from Gaza six months ago. Pleas with the leadership of the Likud and the National Union-National Religious Party to hold public meetings with the victims of artillery attacks in the S'derot area fell on deaf ears.
Instead, the stated policy of the National Union-National Religious Party was to reach out only to the "right-wing" of Israeli politics and not to the people of Israel, not to reach out to people with integrity on the Israeli Left who became frustrated with the fallacies of Israel's so-called peace process.
But I think it may also be because Likud members like Silvan Shalom, who's said to have some support there (maybe not much now), did not make any serious efforts to campaign among the residents of those places.
And while Netanyahu's financial cutbacks may have helped the country to some extent, and he did have a point that people should go out to work, the way he did it was apparently clumsy, and also a problem that led to undermining him, if not as much as the National Union did. Bedein says:
As far as the Likud is concerned, its fate was sealed in the spring of 2003, when Binyamin Netanyahu, as the minister of finance, slashed special public fund allocations for pensioners, for handicapped people and for children. When Netanyahu's director general was confronted with how the cut in child allowance would cause working families to lose vital income that they need for basic sustenance, his answer was that "they should go out to work." When confronted with the fact that the cutback of the child allowance affects people who are at work, his answer, once again, was that "they should go out to work."Correction there, only the Likud actually did, with the National Union, it was simply dreadful, and didn't offer anything satisfying. That aside, I understand Bedein's argument on the financial issues.
A few weeks after the finance ministry's economic plan was announced, I forwarded a professional proposal to Netanyahu's chief social affairs advisor that for every program Netanyahu would cut in health, education and social service, he would ask corporations and philanthropists from Israel and from abroad to sponsor new health, education and social services. The precedent for such an idea occurred during the tenure of Israel's former finance minister, Avrhaham Shochat, who had arranged with United Jewish Communities philanthropists in the USA to sponsor security guard services in all of Israel's public schools, since Shochat was cutting this vital service. To this day, UJC plaques are posted at the guard house of schools throughout the country, to remind everyone that this vital security service, which the Israeli government could not afford, had been secured with private philanthropic funds.
Yet, while Netanyahu's social affairs advisor liked the idea of seeking private sponsors for every service that Netanyahu would slash, Netanyahu would not hear of any such idea. He simply fired his social affairs advisor.
So, there you have it. The Likud and the National Union-National Religious Party presented a clear, strong security program to the Israeli voter; yet, both parties neglected to address the vital health, economic and social disaster of the indigent sector of Israeli society.
Moreover, the problem with the NU was that they were stoking what was basically hatemongering against Netanyahu, and one advertisement they gave out, showing a teen girl sitting on the rubble of a wrecked house came close to exploitation. That's something for which they must apologize, and Benny Elon, plus anyone else who was taking part in their "anti-Bibi" campaign must step down.
Anshel Pfeffer in the Jerusalem Post says that we shouldn't write Netanyahu off just yet:
Netanyahu has three main factors working for him. First, his rivals are just as discredited as he is. Ex-ministers Limor Livnat, Dan Naveh, Yisrael Katz and, especially, Silvan Shalom don't enjoy sufficient support in the party right now to oust Netanyahu and are being accused today of not pulling their weight during the campaign.There's just one thing: he didn't. He may have voted "in favor" of one of these "bills" in the Knesset two years ago because he was afraid he'd be fired from the cabinet by Ariel Sharon, and he wanted to keep the treasury out of Sharon's reach for good reason, but other than that, he did not support disengagement, most certainly not literally.
Second, after the electoral humiliation, many on the right will begin to see him once again as a martyr who didn't give up on his ideals and was crucified in return by the media and the left-wing elite. His loyalists hope that, from the underdog position, he will be able to redeem himself in the eyes of the settlers and more resolute right-wingers, still angry at him for initially supporting disengagement.
The third factor is Netanyahu himself. He is in the worst situation of his political career, since the aftermath of Yitzhak Rabin's murder, when he was treated like Yigal Amir's partner in crime. His steadfast determination enabled him to achieve an unbelievable comeback and win the elections six months later.Which may come sooner than we think. And Netanyahu most certainly should not have to resign. While not without his own faults, it was not because of him that the Likud was damaged, certainly not by a longshot. No, it was because of the damage inflicted by those you'd think to be his "friends", and that includes even Yisrael Beitenu and Shas, who were also leading some very appalling campaigns in which they attacked him one-dimensionally too. In fact, people who care would do well to lobby Shas and their spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, not to join a coalition with Olmert. Six years ago, people wanted them to resign from the government with Ehud Barak, which they eventually did.
He believes he can do it again, and I would bet on his lasting as Likud leader until the next elections.
And the Likud will also have to take some steps to rebuild confidence by meeting with places that need their support, like Ashkelon and Sderot.