Netanyahu pulls ahead

An example of the level to which Netanyahu's opponents have sunk.

An example of the level to which Netanyahu’s opponents have sunk.

A recent poll has PM Netanyahu pulling away from his challengers in Israel’s election, which is to be held on March 7. Here is the view from the Left:

With the election just over 40 days away, the current electoral picture sees Likud gathering steam; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [25 seats] widening his lead over his main rival, Isaac Herzog [23 seats]; the three ultra-Orthodox parties stabilizing at about 18 seats, similar to what they had in the previous Knesset; and the centrist parties have collectively lost four seats. In short, Netanyahu would undoubtedly be Israel’s next prime minister.

The poll, which was conducted on Sunday under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs with a representative sample of 514 respondents, confirmed what logic and political experience have long since taught us: When diplomatic and security issues dominate the agenda, Netanyahu benefits, even if there’s plenty of public criticism of his handling of these issues – as there has been over his upcoming trip to Washington to address Congress on Iran.

To be fair, which this writer is not, the “public criticism” he mentions has come from Netanyahu’s opponents, who are digging deep to find something that will get traction against the Prime Minister. It also comes from the other side of the world, where President Obama and his friendly media are frantically trying to head off anything that will complicate his attempt to strike a ‘grand bargain’ with Iran, and partition the Middle East between the Iranian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood (thus betraying former allies Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia while guaranteeing chaos in Syria and Lebanon).

I’ll also note that it isn’t an accident that Netanyahu benefits when “security issues” raise their ugly heads. Israelis remember the last time Tzipi Livni (second on Herzog’s list and slated to rotate the Prime Ministership with him should they win) had an important role in the government, as Foreign Minister during and after the bungled Second Lebanon War.

Her signal ‘accomplishment’ was UN Security Council resolution 1701, which was little more than a recommendation that Hizballah should disarm, and made no provision to enforce this. Naturally, Hizballah bounced back to the point that they now have three times as many rockets aimed at Israel than they did prior to the war. When the next round is inevitably fought, Livni will have the blood of many Israelis and Lebanese on her hands.

As long as socioeconomic issues continue to be absent from the headlines, the Likud party chairman and his friends can start planning his third consecutive term as premier (and fourth overall).

Israelis agree that the cost of living here, especially housing, is too high. But Netanyahu’s opponents have no believable plan to fix this. Everyone knows that maintaining military readiness is expensive, and the example of 2006 again — when the army was hobbled by years of budget cuts — is fresh in their minds. Netanyahu, unlike many politicians, is well-versed in economics, as is the present Minister of Economy, Naftali Bennett (of the Jewish Home party, expected to be part of the coalition). The opposition is running American-style ads suggesting that Netanyahu represents the ‘haves’ and they the ‘have-nots’, but Israelis so far haven’t been impressed.

So far, it seems the recent reports of corruption and hedonism at the prime minister’s residences haven’t made much impression on the voters, even though most respondents to the Haaretz poll said police should investigate Sara Netanyahu’s alleged pocketing of bottle-deposit refunds that should have gone to the state.

“Corruption and hedonism” sound like fun, but there is no there there. The best they can do is claim the Sara Netanyahu kept money from recycling bottles (there are a lot of receptions, etc. at the PM’s residence). Mrs. Netanyahu is apparently a very difficult person, and she is more or less the Lindsay Lohan of the Israeli media. But after all, she isn’t the Prime Minister, and Israelis are tired of the press’ obsession with her and would like them to lay off. The pettiness of the accusations and the perceived nastiness of attacking the PM’s family is not helping his opponents.

Maybe saying this won’t make me friends back in the old country, but Israelis seem to have a better grasp of what is important in a leader than a majority of Americans:

When respondents were asked a series of questions about a head-to-head contest between Netanyahu and Herzog, the former won handily on almost every parameter, including suitability to be prime minister, and ability to handle Israel’s diplomatic and security problems. On ability to handle Israel’s economic problems, the two tied – but that’s an issue on which the opposition parties haven’t yet been able to focus public attention.

Moreover, on every issue aside from his handling of the economy, Netanyahu actually increased his lead over Herzog compared to the last Haaretz poll, conducted three weeks ago. Most astonishingly [I am not astonished — ed], when Haaretz asked whom respondents thought would be the next prime minister, only one out of four (21 percent versus 58 percent) chose Herzog. In other words, even many center-left voters don’t foresee a Herzog victory.

So it looks like another term is within Netanyahu’s grasp, as long as he doesn’t make any serious mistakes in the next few weeks. And that is as it should be.

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4 Responses to Netanyahu pulls ahead

  1. MacGuffin says:

    Fingers crossed for Bibi. He is better for Israel, and better for the rest of the world. He is a man of principles and integrity, and his opponents are as bad as Obama.

  2. Keefe Goldfisher says:

    We appreciate your delicacy about the old country! Honestly, it does not appear that our President stays in office on anything more than that friendly press you mentioned, momentum and custom. The average American who is informed keeps an open mind about the way the world goes and does not believe everything they see on television or read in the papers. And they certainly do not see themselves well-served by their elected officials. A more courageous Senate and House would have already impeached this fellow. We’re too big to turn around the ship fast. When the fight is brought to us again and this fellow is gone, we’ll respond as we always have… resolutely.

  3. Robman says:

    Mr. Goldfisher,

    Vic’s point stands about American versus Israeli voters, in that just as the media here in the U.S. supports Obama, so too does the media in Israel support those Obama favors against Netanyahu.

    While I personally believe that Obama stayed in office via a rigged election the second time around – I don’t think even the media could have saved him in a fair election by that time – even the first time it was pretty clear who was better qualified to be president. McCain had his flaws, to be sure, but by any reasonable standard, he was far better equipped to be president than Obama.

    And, if I am wrong about the ’12 election being rigged – and I hope I am, as no serious effort seems to have been made thus far to address this problem if it is as bad and real as I suspect – then Vic is correct in spades. An American voting public that really did re-elect Obama is in La-La Land. Many Americans indeed are in La-La Land; too many seem to treat presidential elections here as if they were episodes of American Idol. The media is no excuse; again, Netanyahu faces the very same kind of media that Obama’s opponents have over here.

    Yes, I also wish Congress would impeach Obama, but unfortunately, it is less about guts than it is about practical reality, and corruption. The House would vote to impeach, but it is the Senate that would have to make it stick with a guilty verdict and subsequent vote following a trial. It would take 67 votes, and there are only 54 seats held by Republicans. Worse, only 10 Democratic senators are up for re-election in ’16, so only they would be under strong pressure to vote to remove Obama, or face the wrath of voters, depending on the severity of the ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ Obama would be convicted of.

    In a better world, if what Obama had done was bad enough – and between just Benghazi and the IRS scandal, I think there is ample material for objectively ‘bad enough’ – party affiliation should not matter. What is right is right, what is wrong is wrong. But the Democratic Party of today is so hopelessly corrupt that they cannot see beyond loyalty to Obama; this loyalty clearly transcends the law and America’s objective interests. Perhaps it is inspired in part by fear, extreme ‘progressive’ ideology; who knows? But the all but unquestioned Democratic Party loyalty to Obama among their numbers in the Senate is a clear and seemingly insurmountable roadblock to impeachment, and the GOP knows this. That is the sad reality.

    I expect Bibi to win also. The bottom line is that Obama’s “fixers” he has exported to Israel are used to, well, dumb American voters, and will have trouble peddling their b.s. to Israelis.

    On the horizon, the election I really am worried about is in Canada. Harper will be up for re-election this October. He has been in office since ’06, and the Canadian economy is tanking of late. That is a bad combination. He is Israel’s best friend among world leaders today, and if he is defeated this fall, Canada will likely revert to their “pre-Harper” mode with respect to Israel: mealy-mouthed appeasement of Islamist sentiments nearly as bad as what we see from Europeans. That will be a big loss. But even if it comes to that, while it will make things harder, Israel will still survive Obama (as long as Iran is prevented somehow from going nuclear; if Iran gets the bomb, it is even debatable whether America as we know it can survive Obama’s traitorous legacy).

    • Keefe Goldfisher says:

      Mr. Robman,

      Mr. Rosenthal is one of my favorite writers; I was pleading the case for American voters after the gentle dig he gave about Israelis having a better grasp of the essentials of a good leader. After all, we have more to explain than the Israelis for our current Commander in Chief… but then they too were hoodwinked by Ehud Ohlmert–someone who should not ever have been Prime Minister of Israel, as his legal fees attest, but who somehow snuck through the process. Ours is a tougher brief to have to defend.

      I agreed with a lot of what you wrote. Since the President was elected twice… this President…, that is a most damning thing to bring up in defense of the superiority of the American voter. I don’t know about rigging, but the complete lack of vetting of this President and the use of the race card to stop criticism and then the absence of post-election criticism to sustain the President are a near-criminal atrophy of the normal American processes of governing and electioneering where a candidate or sitting official is continually tested. This fellow is never tested. It’s as if a child was left home alone in a fortified castle in a hostile land and he proceeded to drop the drawbridge and invite in the hordes till the adults return.

      I do disagree about the practicality argument for the lack of willingness to impeach the President. The Press is in the pocket of this Administration, and the entire Democratic program has been repudiated; the President has done lasting damage to the Democratic Party. It should be very easy to summon the courage to look straight at the examples you raised (IRS and Benghazi), plus Iran, and say to oneself, ‘I don’t want to be on record as having supported the lies about the first two issues and not having done enough to protect the American people on the last.’ It should be almost a self-preservation moment for them. It’s a special blindness that would walk along with the President on making a deal with Iran, and I hope there will be a riot in their districts when their votes are counted later after Iran gets a bomb. About the party numbers not being there to make the counts stick, you’re right, but the Republicans should bring it along on a low simmer until the next shoe falls and there starts to be some real worry about how far wrong we’ve gone that even the Press has to take notice. An Iranian bomb would be a banner day for impeachment bills.

      Your remarks about Canada are very correct, and the citizens there seem like they are about to go in a different direction and take a great friend of Israel away to replace him with someone lesser. I’m hoping for a nice surprise there, but not holding my breath.

      The Israelis have to keep their eye on the ball. Americans have had their attention diverted for a long time. For over 30 years–nearly 40–, things have been in general decline here regarding love of country, discourse with foes (internal and external), protection of our national interests abroad, the conduct of public servants and political representatives, the purposes of military doctrine, inner city politics in our largest cities, the decline in education standards, standards of proper journalistic behavior, and on and on. It’s all coming to a head because someone slipped through to confound the checks and balances the Founders gave us.

      But even on the bad days up to now and the many days to come, we have so many people of good quality in America, 10’s of millions of them, that will do the right thing at the most difficult times, that I feel even if they are not in charge now, they will be soon, and the focus will return as an example to the rest of us, and to Israel.

      At least I hope so.


      Keefe Ovid Goldfisher

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