Israel

What Does Netanyahu's Re-election Mean for the Future of Israel?

Bibi wins big after promising no two-state solution and exploiting far-right fear of Israeli Arabs voting in "droves."

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Bibi on the bus.
Wikimedia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party defied exit polls showing a neck-and-neck finish with the center-left Zionist Union, to pull off a landslide victory and secure an unprecedented fourth (non-consecutive) term as PM. 

The election was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu himself, and though American neoconservatives like the Weekly Standard's William Kristol are characterizing the election as a "pretty big repudiation of Obama," inferring that Israelis were motivated by disapproval of President Obama's reaction to Bibi's controversial speech before Congress earlier this month, the election's real tipping point was more likely Netanyahu's desperate appeal to the far-right of the Israeli electorate.

Netanyahu was able to coax voters from smaller parties on the right into the Likud fold by warning of "droves" of Israeli Arabs coming to the polls to exercise their democratic rights, and by reneging on his own promise to seek peace with the Palestinians by promising he would never allow them a state of their own while he's in office. 

As Jonathan Chait wrote in NYMag.com, "The availability of Arab voting rights is a longtime point of Israeli pride, a fundamental defense of the principle of Zionism against its existential critics," but Chait surmises that Netanyahu's "only remaining diplomatic strategy will be to deepen Israel's ties with right-wing America, whose support for Israel is not contingent upon it fulfilling its liberal, democratic ideals."

At NationalReview.com, Reihan Salam defends Netanyahu from the charge of "baldfaced racism" by noting his "efforts to improve (Israeli Arabs') economic standing" through educational and industrial initiatives. As it happens, The Joint List, the coalition of Arab parties that so concerned Netanyahu, finished third in the tally of seats in the Knesset. However, Haaretz writes that any talk of an ascendant Arab political force in Israel is "exaggerated hype" because "these radically different groups—Communists, Arab Nationalists, and Islamists" stand no chance of remaining a unified bloc in the Knesset.

But at TheWeek.com, Ryan Cooper writes:

The hidden upside of this rancid politicking is that Netanyahu did both America and Israel a favor by clarifying in plain words what was already the de facto reality in Israel and the occupied territories. And if America and Israel had any sense at all, they'd seize this opportunity to stop heading down the road to grand apartheid.

Cooper adds, "maintaining indefinite control over a subject population with no voting rights is a losing proposition, historically speaking," which begs the question: did Israel just (wittingly or unwittingly) vote to end the peace process and hopes for a two state solution once and for all? Perhaps just as importantly, does re-electing Netanyahu in a landslide make very real the possibility of splitting American support for Israel down party lines

I spoke with Kennedy about the inscrutable Israeli political system on her Fox Business show last night, watch below.

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  1. Perhaps Bibi has learned why the “negotiations” weren’t such a great idea and changed his mind.

  2. …and by reneging on his own promise to seek peace with the Palestinians by promising he would never allow them a state of their own while he’s in office.

    Yeah, that would have brought peace.

  3. I personally think it’s pretty disgusting how Americans turned another country’s election (an election most Americans know nothing about and certainly know shit-all about Netanyahu’s opponent) into a culture war event in our nation. Twitter yesterday was absurd. With all the cavorting from conservatives and the saaaaad faces from liberals, which climaxed in this ludicrous article by Zack Beauchamp, you would have thought America itself just had a presidential election.

    1. At this point Vox is basically just a personification of the Dunning-Kruger effect and the magic of group think.

    2. “The top issue, soaring housing prices and cost of living, strongly favored the opposition ? especially after an official report blamed Netanyahu’s government for doing little to rein in housing costs.”

      Herp-derp knows no borders.

    3. So, basically what you are saying is that Americans reacted to a foreign election in the same way just about every foreign country reacts to ours.

    4. I personally think it’s pretty disgusting how Americans turned another country’s election (an election most Americans know nothing about and certainly know shit-all about Netanyahu’s opponent) into a culture war event in our nation.

      You can thank Obama for about 90% of that. The way he has acted ever since Congress invited Netanyahu to the United States; no sitting president has ever acted so childish and petulant in my lifetime. You do know he actually sent a bunch of his surrogates to Israel in the last few weeks of the election to try and help defeat him, right?

      1. it’s Obama. He turned that into something about him, as he does with everything else. Sure, he hates Bibi. So what? Be gracious and a professional in public, not an ass.

    5. But political scientists have found that suicide bombs and rocket attacks have concretely and measurably pushed Israelis rightward in general.

      Shocka! It’s almost as if a “peace process” is pointless when one side doesn’t really want peace, but the death of their enemies.

      1. “But political scientists have found that suicide bombs and rocket attacks have concretely and measurably pushed Israelis rightward in general.”

        I’m glad we have political scientists to figure this out. Who else would even have guessed?

    6. God, what an idiot. I’m sorry I clicked on that link.

  4. I also think Chait’s full of shit:

    “As Jonathan Chait wrote in NYMag.com, “The availability of Arab voting rights is a longtime point of Israeli pride, a fundamental defense of the principle of Zionism against its existential critics,” but Chait surmises that Netanyahu’s “only remaining diplomatic strategy will be to deepen Israel’s ties with right-wing America, whose support for Israel is not contingent upon it fulfilling its liberal, democratic ideals.””

    Really? Because every time I hear conservatives talking about Israel, the primary points they bring up are a) women’s rights in Israel relative to the rest of the Middle East, b) the fact that Arabs in Israel are actually treated better than Arab’s in many Muslim countries and have political rights that other Middle Eastern countries would never give to a minority, and c) are a democracy in a sea of dictatorships and theocracies.

    So the primary arguments on behalf of Israel by the American right are related to their liberal, democratic ideals. Contrast that with left-wing support of Hamas and the Palestinians, a group of people who have no liberal or democratic ideals and never claimed to. Which side is supporting people without regard for liberal democracy again?

    1. Congratulations Israel! You’re better than Saudi Arabia.

      1. I wouldn’t want to live there, and Israel is certainly oppressive by American standards. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s somewhat odd that Israel gets so much shit when, by Middle Eastern standards, they’re practically Utopia.

        1. Israel is certainly oppressive by American standards

          And yet, prostitution is legal in Israel. Medical marijuana is legal, and personal use has been mostly decriminalized. Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed outside of the country and allows the foreign partner to apply for residency; the United States does not. If a gay Israeli marries a Mexican, we have the libertarian trifecta here.

          1. Rockwell cried a single tear of unearned pathos at this thought.

          2. Meh, they still suck on any economic freedom index.

          3. Hey now, that hypothetical couple may not have much money due to working a landscaping job, but it will be the best managed $5/hr in the history of the world, and they’ll have the best decorated 57 person trailer in the whole park!

      2. that’s some weapons-grade derp. Tell me how many Jews serve in the Saudi govt, how free women are to go about their lives, gays, other minorities. Your comment is true but it is hardly accurate.

        1. Fantastic way to miss the point WE.

          Apparently Israel Arabs and anyone else for that matter shouldn’t bitch about Israel, because, hey, it could be worse.

          How about this, most of the Middle East sucks worse than Israel, Israel is far from perfect, and Netanyahu is a scummy cynical politician.

      3. “Congratulations Israel! You’re better than Saudi Arabia.”

        Better than quite a few other places on earth as well.

        1. S? is the US.

  5. Israel is in the interesting position of actually having a Muslim minority large enough that they might really become an existential threat to Israel as a distinctly Jewish country, in contrast to Europe and the US, where fears of sharia law are really overblown.

    I’m not suggesting that Netanyahu’s appeal to fear of Arab voters is justified. But at least the idea that Israel might become over-populated by Muslims who will fundamentally change the place is not totally unrealistic.

    In the long run, we might view this election as the very first signs of a race war developing in Israel, between it’s Jewish majority and it’s growing Arab-Muslim minority. The fact that Netanyahu’s appeal worked demonstrates that there are lots of Israelis who are not at all comfortable with Arabs exercising political power in Israel.

    1. FWIW, this is not a problem unique to Israel. Georgia and Armenia, among other nations in the region, are starting to experience similar issues (a particular problem for the latter country, for obvious reasons of history). Lebanon has undoubtedly already experienced this and not come out for the better.

      If that type of problem doesn’t cause one to re-evaluate open borders in all circumstances, I don’t see what could.

      1. Indeed.

      2. Of course, America is not actually threatened by this issue. Hispanics are a branch of western civilization. They are not objectively more foreign than Italians or Irish. And there’s no movement of suicide-bombing catholics bent on establishing some sort of fundamentalist catholic state.

        1. Agreed, in the specific case of the US. I’m pointing out that it does not seem like a dogma to be particularly attached to, given the catastrophe-level problems which follow from following it through in circumstances less fortunate than those of our own country.

        2. Millions of poor people who help bankrupt the welfare state and tend to vote for more government are a less dramatic threat to liberty than suicide bombers, but are a threat nevertheless.

    2. Why don’t you go to the UK, tell all those 100s of young girls enslaved by Muslims that that their fear is “overblown”, just like the local police and politicians did.

      It’s not like that was one isolated incident, it’s happened in several different cities.

  6. Yes, I’m sure Nentanyahu’s statement about the Arabs voting hours before polls closed changed the tide of the election. Christ, pundits are stupid.

    And the warning wasn’t about Arabs per se, it was them being bused to the polls by organizations funded by team Obama. You know, the same people who got their collective panties in a twist about protocol violations because of a speech.

  7. However, Haaretz writes that any talk of an ascendant Arab political force in Israel is “exaggerated hype” because “these radically different groups – Communists, Arab Nationalists, and Islamists” stand no chance of remaining a unified bloc in the Knesset.

    It’s telling that they have to dismiss the possibility as exagerrated hype.
    Obviously, this means if it wasn’t exagerrated hype, most Israeli Jews would not be comfortable with it.

    That really says something about the Israeli political scene. Jewish Israelis are only comfortable with Muslims getting the vote as long as they are reassured that they won’t actually be a serious political force.

    If that ever changes, what do you think is going to happen?

    1. Israel was founded as a very specific religious-ethnic state, and I suspect the Jewish Israelis will never willingly allow that to change.

      If there ever were a true Palestinian state, I can see Israel cracking down on freedom of religion, in order to “encourage” Israeli Arabs to move to the new Republic of Palestine.

      1. Israel was founded as a very specific religious-ethnic state, and I suspect the Jewish Israelis will never willingly allow that to change

        Just based on anecdotal experience, I would say that currently 50 to 75 would never willingly allow that; whereas, 25 are actually agitating for that as they feel a secular, ethnically pluralist state is the only way they’ll ever get out of this mess.

        1. With polls showing many,if not most ,in the Arab world favor strict Islamic law ,how do they think that would work for the Jews? A secular Arab state is not likely in this region.Any dream of a secular Arab,Jewish state is a pipe dream.

      2. That’s actually a good point, and I wonder why the Israeli right hasn’t thought of it.

        I don’t really understand why they won’t accept a Palestinian state.
        Maybe it’s sort of a negotiating stance to force the Palestinians to recognize Israel. “If you won’t recognize our state, we’re not going to recognize yours. “

        1. I wonder, too. Recognize a state, then when they screw up, it’s on their own heads. No “occupier” to blame.

          I also wonder if the Arab countries really want a Palestinian state, either. They certainly don’t want the Palestinians.

        2. The Palestinians had their chance at a state side-by-side with Israel if they really wanted it, and they blew it back when they were still relatively united under Arafat, who in spite of all his earlier misdeeds had a chance to go down as a world historical figure. Don’t take my word for it, take Bill Clinton’s; the ugly details are spelled out right in his autobiography.

          Personally, I think the majority of Palestianians don’t truly want their own state side-by-side with Israel. I think most of them are still clinging to their lunatic dream of wiping out the Jews and taking the whole damn thing for themselves, and I don’t think they’re ever going to get a second chance like what they had under Clinton.

          1. I think most of them are still clinging to their lunatic dream of wiping out the Jews and taking the whole damn thing for themselves

            One thing I have learned about Arabs. They are nothing if not capable of clinging to lunatic dreams until the bitter end.

            Of course, the Left does tend to help them out a bit by continually writing about how Israel’s destruction due to demographic forces is inevitable. It’s so much easier to hang onto your lunatic dreams when you have people keep telling you they aren’t crazy at all.

    2. It won’t change and, frankly, it shouldn’t. You know full well you wouldn’t want to live in a country where a bunch of Arabs had real political strength, either.

      I don’t like Israel. I don’t see them as a particularly worthwhile ally to America in any sense of the word and they are more trouble than they are worth. The attacks they get though are so batshit crazy and irrational most of the time that I can’t help but defend them.

      The leftwing in this country loathes Israel and has for a very long time. They play nice in public at best and try to sweep it under the rug because it’s politically convenient. This element will cite Europe viewing Israel as a pariah as some proof at how awful America’s support is because Europe is obviously superior and America is like all alone on it.

      Only, Europeans were putting Jews in gas chambers and burning the remains 70 years ago by the millions. They persecuted Jews since the time of Rome because of their faith. But apparently two millennia of hatred just vanished in the minds of the modern left. Israel, of all the countries on the earth, Israel has the most right to what the left is calling ‘paranoia.’ Blatant anti-Semitism is still strong in Europe and their neighboring countries are filled with populations of people who loathe them.

      1. I agree. I wouldn’t want to live in a country dominated by Arab-Muslims.

        The Arab Spring, and the resulting chaos, in Syria, in Lybia, in Yemen, serves as damning evidence that Arabs really AREN’T ready for democracy. I used to think that was cynical bullshit. I believed all the rhetoric about how Arab radicalism was caused by oppressive governments. But the instant the yoke was lossened, who comes to power, but batshit insane Islamic theocrats. Just EXACTLY what Mubarak said would happen.

        So, now my opinion is more realist. If it’s going to be a choice between brutal but secular dictatorships and batshit crazy religious fanatics, I will pick the brutal dictator.

  8. any talk of an ascendant Arab political force in Israel is “exaggerated hype” because “these radically different groups – Communists, Arab Nationalists, and Islamists” stand no chance of remaining a unified bloc in the Knesset

    Sure, just like how the Iranian mergers of socialism, nationalism and Islamism were just a passing fad soon overcome by the Iranian Shah.

    Politics makes strange bedfellows and all that.

    1. “Don’t worry: the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Burgundians, Lombards, and Franks are all different tribes and will never unite, so they won’t cause the Roman Empire any trouble.”

    2. Yeah, there’s nothing really contradictory about those three, politically speaking – and it’s amazing how ‘flexible’ people can be about the details of their ideology when those details get in the way of acquiring power.

    3. All that really means is that after the Arab Israelis take power, there will be one hell of an internecine battle over which is in charge.

  9. “The election’s real tipping point was more likely Netanyahu’s desperate appeal to the far-right of the Israeli electorate.”

    I don’t think he can go back on that promise to the Israeli right that there won’t be a Palestinian state so long as he’s in office.

    You go back on a promise like that? That’s how Rabin…um…”left office”.

    He may have painted himself into quite a corner there.

    1. the promise is not exactly a profile in anything since the Arabs have ALWAYS opposed the two-state measure since one of those states is Israel. That movie has played before and it ends the same way each time.

      1. YEA, but now John Kerry and Barrack Obama are on it!

        The left has apathy to hatred for Israel. The peace terms as drawn up by the international community have never been aligned with the interests of either party. Alls Babi did was state the obvious.

  10. As long as the Arabs insist on the right of return there will never be a peace deal. As for Obama ,why does he think the U.S. and other western countries should be making a deal with Iran that Israel has to live with? Also ,with the every country around them fighting Islamist ,now does not seem the time for a peace treaty.

    1. The right of return is idiotic. No other displaced people in the history of humanity have essentially been handed that right. Tens of millions of people (possibly more) were displaced during/after WWII. It happened. It sucked.

      The Arab states’ have allowed Palestinian refugees to rot in camps for decades instead of taking the effort to integrate them — many of whom were highly-educated and could have actually contributes to society. It’s disgusting; the Palestinians’ ire should be directed at their Arab brothers.

      1. It really shows how much tribalism is still important in Arab societies. They don’t want the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are from those OTHER tribes that they don’t give a shit about, feel no mutual obligations towards, and would threaten their own tribe’s propspects if they were let in.

        Why do I get the impression that Arabs are extremely xenophobic people who will place their own kinds above everything else, in concentric circles of exclusion? Family above tribe, tribe above nation, nation above religion, religion above everyone else on the planet. Individuals last.

        It’s all kind of coming together for me. The fear of and distain for “westernization” with it’s radical ideas of individual liberty from bonds of family and tribe. The apparently shameless efforts to out-populate other peoples by having a lot of babies. The eye-for-an-eye mentality. The refusal to accept Palestinian refugees, coupled with a hatred of Israel that goes far beyond that. The shameless willingness to immigrate to Western countries and then mooch off of welfare. These are people for whom morality is dependent on how close one’s blood relationship is to a person.

  11. Netanyahu was able to coax voters from smaller parties on the right into the Likud fold by warning of “droves” of Israeli Arabs coming to the polls to exercise their democratic rights,

    So, basically, this was a get-out-the-vote pitch by Bibi, no?

    It should be balanced, I think, by reporting on whatever Obama-sponsored GOTV initiative was directed at the Israeli Arabs. We know his operatives were in Israel working against Bibi, and an ethnically-driven GOTV initiative is there specialty. So lets hear about it.

  12. Congratulations to Bibi and the Lukid party, well done.

    You cannot renege on a peace process promise, when the peace you seek is with a people that want you dead and your nation annihilated. The whole idea of a peace process is a complete and utter joke. And if the so called “Palestinians”(a term which originally referred to indigenous Hebrew inhabitants) wanted their own country, then they need to take that issue up with the Jordanians.

    But we never hear about Jordan reneging on the Palestinians, do we? It isn’t convenient to pressure the Jordanians into giving up land for the Palestinians, as Jordan isn’t a lone Jewish state. No, it is much more convenient to pressure Israel, the only Jewish state in the world, a small prosperous state at that, the only western democratic state in the region, surrounded by bat shit crazy Islamic state shit holes.

    There is definitely something wrong with this world, when Islamic states and Leftist ass wipes, can condemn Israel for not providing a state within Israel for Arabs to create another Gaza mess, but say nothing, not a word about the massive territory occupied by Islamic shit holes next door, that do nothing for the Israeli Arab, except maybe provide bombs to lob into Israel.

    I love Bibi, I wish he could have a third term.

  13. Your Arab heroes blow up the WTC and dance about it (remember the woman with coke bottle glasses and sweets?) and you complain about the Jews? As for the Arabs, they should be kicked out and if they don’;t want to leave they should be kicked out by whatever means necessary.

    p.s. I don’t think antisemitic clowns should be pointing the finger at Jews for racism. We need Israel in case G-d forbid Ron Paul is elected. We don’t want to suffer another holocaust and then have a hagiography done on the people who deny that reality as some magazine I know have done.

    “There’s no need to fear. Underzog is here.” and

    Oid Kahane Chai (Rabbi Kahane lives)

  14. did Israel just (wittingly or unwittingly) vote to end the peace process and hopes for a two state solution once and for all?

    This is hyperbolic. I mean, did the Palestinians vote to end the peace process and two state solution when they elected Hamas? When was the last time they held an election anyway? Anyway, there’ll be another election in Israel and there’s still hope.

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