Most critics of Prime Minister Netanyahu have been promoting in recent weeks an election strategy that recommends voting for center left political parties under the assumption that there are no longer any real differences in terms of security and defense issues between center left and the Likud. These home grown critics, many of them former Army Generals or former Security/Defense officials and in many instances funded by American Jewish liberals have claimed that even center left parties can make the right decisions when Israel’s security needs are challenged. Only this past week the Israel Democratic Institute release a poll conducted on her behalf claiming that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews do not believe that a change in leadership will have an effect on the peace process.
In response to this non-stop campaign that has delegated Israel’s strategic challenges low on the list of national priorities and instead focused in on the perceived failures of Netanyahu’s social and economic policies; the Israeli electorate has been inundated and forced-fed by a steady diet of malicious slandering of Netanyahu and his family, or has been forced to listen to day in and day out about the so-called housing crisis, and always handy is the false claim of Israel’s soaring cost of living. It really seems as if Netanyahu and the Likud party can do no right, it’s as if nothing over the past six years during Netanyahu’s incumbency can be considered positively or even mildly successful.
At this critical junction as we approach the national elections within a few days, the overall picture looks pretty gloom. For those of us who do not buy into the wishful thinking and political naivety of the center left political parties, it’s important to remind ourselves that the Israeli public has not voted for dramatic change except in the wake of significant blows to the status quo. In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War and the coming of age of Sephardi Jews, the Likud was swept into power 1977; after the first intifada and the Russian wave of immigrants swung the pendulum back to Labor in 1992; after the onset of the second intifada gave the Likud a comeback in 2001. Since 2009, and in response to the missile threat coming from the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, Netanyahu has become one of Israel’s longest serving Prime Ministers.
In recent years, due largely in part to Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip by a center left political party called Kadima, he has inherited a fragile security situation in the south of Israel and Israel has fought a number of short wars in recent years with tens of soldiers and civilians being killed. Despite these painful losses, the overall security situation is much more tolerable than it was during the years of the strategic terror campaign known as the second intifada. As for the economy, unemployment is low; the stock market is high; and homeowners do not see rising housing prices as a crisis the way the media does. Let’s not forget that in 2008 when the whole world was undergoing an economic meltdown, we in Israel weathered this economic nightmare without even a pinch, Netanyahu was the Minister of Finance. In short, the time is not ripe for change, no matter what the pollsters declare or what the press reports.
Yet for those of you who are still unconvinced and unable to release yourselves from the shackles of the propaganda campaign and outright lies being propagated as truth whenever one opens the radio or sits opposite the TV, it is vitally important to understand that there indeed is a world of difference between voting for the center left parties and abandoning the Likud and other center right parties. Center-left parties and their leaders are simply unable to withstand political pressure when push comes to shove and simply back down.
Back in 1993, when the Oslo agreement was signed by a center-left Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin was unable to stand up to the incessant political pressure by world leaders and so brought upon Israel a strategic blunder and thousands of killed and wounded as a direct result of the Oslo agreement. In 1999, the Camp David negotiations between Yasser Arafat and a center-left incumbent Ehud Barak, who also here was unable to stand up to the incessant political pressure by world leaders to sign an agreement at any price ended in failure leading to the Second Intifada of 2000 with thousands killed and wounded. In 2005, the leader of a newly formed center left party headed by Ariel Sharon implemented Israel’s greatest strategic blunder aided and abetted by world leaders, and withdraw the I.D.F. from the Gaza Strip, letting the terror organization Hamas take over as a result of the power vacuum created when Israel withdraw her forces. The Gaza disengagement was hailed by leaders of the Western World and it became impossible for a center left party to stand up to international pressure and refrain from going through with the withdrawal. As a result of this decision to withdraw, all of southern Israel and a good part of central Israel is today within missile range of rocket attacks emanating from the Gaza strip and resulting in no less than three wars on Israel’s home front.
As we approach election day, it would be wise for all of us to remind ourselves and those we know, that history has proven beyond a benefit of a doubt that center left parties are overly committed ideologically, financially, and politically to outside political pressure resulting in an erosion of Israel’s true national interests. Should they be at the helm, when Israel’s next security related situation deteriorates and a new military challenge is just behind the horizon, only a center right political leadership will be able to withstand the pressure and not forfeit Israel’s strategic needs.