Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Five Myths About the Upcoming Elections

By Shmuel Sackett

Myth #1) Likud is losing seats to Bayit HaYehudi – Not true! 
What is happening is simple. The ridiculous marriage of Likud to Leiberman ("Yisrael Beitenu") has caused hundreds of thousands of voters to run away but not because of Likud! The voters will not be voting for the Likud-Lieberman ticket because of LIEBERMAN!!! The voters don't trust him, respect him or even like him. He runs his party like a one-man mafia and does not accept criticism gently. He is about to receive a very serious criminal indictment and his political life is terminally ill. The problem with his illness is that he is pulling Likud down with him. All polls show that if Lieberman would be running by himself, as he did the last several elections, his 15 seats would dwindle to 3-5. In short, he is following the Kadima model where success turns into total failure in just one Knesset term. 

What has saved Lieberman is the deal he cut with Bibi. In the words of a major Likud minister, who asked that we not mention his name, Lieberman's deal with Bibi is like winning the Power Ball lottery without even buying a ticket! He brings nothing to the table – on the contrary! He is dragging Likud into the mud and into his political collapse. 

Today, Likud/Lieberman have 42 seats but polls show them dropping to 32 – a loss of 10.
Today, Bayit HaYehudi/Tekuma have 5 seats but polls show them growing to 15 – a gain of 10.
These 10 seats which Likud/Lieberman is losing are coming 100% from the Lieberman side. About a month ago, the members of Likud selected a very right-wing Knesset list which included Feiglin, Danon, Hotoveli, Levine and Elkin in the top 15. This was an exciting list which experts knew would attract the average voter. Everyone knows that Israelis have been steadily moving to the right and this list would be the "dream team" that Likud was hoping for. The media was talking about at least 10 new seats for Likud (today Likud has just 27) and the energy level was high. 

Those exact 10 seats, however, are NOT going to Likud. While the voters are happy with Feiglin, Danon etc.. they are extremely bitter and upset about Lieberman. Those 10 right wing, Jewish-oriented Knesset seats needed a home and they certainly weren't going to Lapid, Yechimovich, Livni or even Shas. The natural place for them was therefore Bayit HaYehudi led by Naftali Bennett. Simply put, he is in the right place at the right time and should send a nice "thank you" card to Lieberman!

Myth #2) Moshe Feiglin does not like Naftali Bennett and has been attacking him in the media – Not true! 
Moshe has said, many times, that Bennett has restored respect to the "knitted kippa" sector in Israel. For the last 20 years, this sector has been virtually ignored. The politicians leading this sector have been good little students sitting and behaving quietly. Although they protested the Gush Katif expulsion, they walked away without more than a peep. Their leaders have sat in various governments and have accomplished virtually nothing. Although this sector leads Israel in its percentage of combat soldiers, teachers and pioneers of the land, they have been complete zeroes politically. Naftali Bennett has changed all that and has revived this sleeping giant. He has infused the knitted kippot with pride and enthusiasm and has convinced them of their political strength. 

The problem that Moshe Feiglin has with Naftali Bennett is not with him personally. It is with Bennett's tactic and strategy. Feiglin has written, lectured and lives his life according to the principle that the knitted kippot's strength come from NOT being a separate sector! Just like these young fighters enter the regular IDF and live in mixed communities with their secular brothers, the same must be done politically. Unlike the Haredim whose philosophy is separation, the religious Zionists pride themselves on living together – as one people and one nation – so why separate yourselves when it comes to politics???

12 years ago, when Moshe entered politics, he chose Likud as his vehicle for one simple reason: That is where Am Yisrael is!!! Although Moshe wears a knitted kippa, lives in a "settlement" and looks like your basic "Dati Leumi" (religious Zionist) guy, he refuses to back himself into that corner. This ideology has cost Moshe dearly – with 12 years of political scars to prove it – but he wouldn't change it for anything. Leading the Nation of Israel, which is Moshe's dream, can only come from a non-sectorial party. It would have been much easier for Moshe to form his own party, or resurrect the Mafdal – which is what Bennett has done – but Feiglin believes that doing that is the quick road to nowhere.

There are also several differences of opinion between Moshe Feiglin and Naftali Bennett on the ideological level and these are important to highlight. Bennett has stated, several times, how he wants to see Gaza become "the Singapore of the Middle East for the Palestinians". Moshe differs with that statement in two ways: First of all; there's no such thing as "the Palestinians" – never was, never will be. Second of all; Moshe's dream is to return Jewish life to the Gaza strip by bringing all the Jewish towns back – bigger and better than ever! Another difference between them is the fact that Bennett is calling for Israel to immediately annex "Area C" in Judea and Samaria – and to give the Arabs who live there full voting rights in Knesset elections! Moshe, on the other hand, is calling for Israel to immediately annex the ENTIRE Judea and Samaria – with no voting rights at all for Arabs in national elections. Moshe has stated that the only way to win this war is to immediately show – by strong and proud actions - that the entire land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. Thinking that we can annex "Area C" now and deal with "Areas A and B" later is submitting to weakness and to the argument that the land is truly not ours. 

Finally, the fiasco that happened with Bennett supporting refusal of orders when evacuating Jews from their homes, only to reverse it a few hours later demonstrates how he and his party puts the State above everything else. This is not the way a true Jewish leader acts. While Moshe understands the importance of the State – and is willing to become a loyal servant to her laws and rules – the ultimate authority is our Father in Heaven. 

Therefore, in summary of this myth, all that has been said about Naftali Bennett, is strictly on the strategic, tactical and ideological level. Many of his actions have advantages, but eventually they will lead to frustration and despair.

Myth #3) Moshe Feiglin does not want Naftali Bennett in a Likud coalition – Not true! 

Actually, just the opposite is true! Even with the differences stated above, Moshe would love Bennett as part of the ruling coalition. He would also love that coalition to include Baruch Marzel, Rabbi Amsalem and anyone – religious or not – who connects to Israel as a strong and proud Jewish State. From the day that Moshe and I started Manhigut Yehudit we stated – loud and clear – that the ultimate goal for Israel is to have one umbrella party called "Jewish Israel" as the ruling coalition. That party would be made up of many smaller parties with the common denominator being leadership of the state according to Jewish values and concepts. Obviously, there would be many differences of opinion between these groups, but for the sake of the nation – these differences would be put aside. The focus would be on what unites these groups and not what divides them! 

While we have our differences with Bennett's strategy we applaud his vision for Israel to be independent, strong, proud and focused on its Jewish identity. This is an amazing goal and one that must be advanced in any way possible. This is why we wish the Bayit HaYehudi party much success in the upcoming elections. We hope they will take away votes from those parties that do not share this vision and we would love to see them in a Likud-led coalition. We wish them success so that our good friends Hillel Horowitz (from Hebron) and Jeremy Gimpel – both of whom who were recently honored at Manhigut Yehudit dinners – will enter the Knesset and become rising stars. Furthermore, we wish success to Michael Ben-Ari, Aryeh Eldad, Baruch Marzel and Aryeh King of the "Otzma LeYisrael" party who are all great fighters for the land of Israel as well as to Chaim Amsalem who is trying to break through barriers in his battle against Shas. These men all identify with Israel as a strong and proud Jewish state and we welcome them in a Likud-led coalition.

Myth #4) Bayit HaYehudi will become a force in Israeli politics for years to come – This is an opinion, so saying "True" or "False" will be silly but allow me to explain why I believe it is false.

History has shown, time and again, that sectorial parties rise and fall quickly. In recent years we have seen several examples of this trend: In 2003 Shinui received 15 seats yet it was ZERO by the next elections. In 2006 the Pensioners received 7 seats, which again fell to ZERO by the next elections. In 2009 Kadima received 28 seats but polls are showing that they will not pass the minimum in these current elections. The result will therefore be ZERO. In 2009 Lieberman's party received 15 seats and if not for the life-line extended to him by Bibi, they would be down to 3-5. This clearly shows that parties that are either break-aways (such as Kadima, which broke from Likud) or sectorial parties (Shinui – ultra left, Pensioners – senior citizens and Lieberman – Russians) are here today and gone tomorrow. 

The only exception to this rule has been Shas, which is definitely a sectorial party, but always hovers around the same amount. They have seen peaks in their success but then they tend to drop back down. In 1992 they received 6 Knesset seats and then it started to rise: 1996 – 10 and by 1999 they were up to 17. Since then, 2003 – 11, 2006 – 12 and 2009 – 11. Polls show them in these elections at 10-12.

The same has happened – and will continue to happen – with the Bayit HaYehudi. They will definitely rise in these elections (for the reasons stated above) but then they will crash down. In the last 35 years the Mafdal/Bayit HaYehudi has gone from 12 seats in 1977 to 4 seats in 1984 and up to 9 seats in 2006. Therefore, even though they will rise to an all-time high of about 15-17 in these current elections, they will drop immediately afterwards. The reason for their inevitable collapse is because – long term – they do not offer answers to what Israelis are looking for. Although they are trying to build themselves as a wide-ranging Jewish party, the Israeli voter will not buy it over an extended period of time and the Bayit HaYehudi will slip back into its knitted kippa shell. This will be very unfortunate because this party has many capable people who will be great representatives of the Jewish people for years to come. Unfortunately, their political careers will come to an abrupt end as this party begins its decline.

The only solution – and we have said this over and again – is to build our strength inside Likud. Although this party has also seen ups and downs, it is not going anywhere. As a matter of fact, if people like Naftali Bennett would join Likud, instead of a sectorial party, the country would be empowered with serious, young, idealistic leaders for years to come.

Myth #5) Moshe Feiglin is definitely going to be an MK so his supporters should vote for Bayit HaYehudi in order to give them more seats – Not true!

Bibi Netanyahu has stated many times that he will not accept Bayit HaYehudi as a partner in his coalition. As stated earlier in this article, we are against that position of Bibi and feel that Bennett and his fellow MK's should be inside a coalition led by Likud. The problem, however, is that Bibi will not ask us what we think when he goes to form a government. He will set the rules and will build his coalition as he sees fit. B'ezrat Hashem, in the near future, when Moshe Feiglin is the leader of Likud, parties like Bayit HaYehudi will not have a problem entering a Likud government but we will need to wait a few more years for that to happen.

In the meantime, Bibi will do whatever he can to keep Bennett out. This means that Bennett's 15 or even 20 Knesset seats are powerless! Simply put; they will accomplish nothing. They will sit in the opposition – and may even lead the opposition – but will be out of the game. The only MK's capable of putting up a fight against a Palestinian state will be the ones inside Likud and the coalition. The more seats Likud gets, the stronger that opposition will be. As reported many times in the media, Likud voters elected a very right wing, hawkish list. Our goal must be to get as many of these people elected as possible. If Likud/Lieberman ends up with only 30 MK's, Bibi will need to reach out to both Yair Lapid and Shelly Yechimovich to form his government. Is that what you want??? On the other hand, if Likud/Lieberman end up with 40 Mk's then these leftist parties will be able to watch Likud lead the country from their television sets! It is clear then, that we must do whatever we can to strengthen the Likud ticket and bring them as many MK's as possible, far and above from just getting Moshe Feiglin elected. 

Conclusion: I am sorry for writing such a long article but these myths needed to be cleared up. I urge you to study these words carefully and know the real facts. Feel free to send me your comments and/or questions. We need to know the truth.

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