The “Zionist Union (ZU)” — sorry, I can’t call it that without the scare quotes — of Buji Herzog and Tzipi Livni has presented its platform (Hebrew). And it does not inspire confidence.
It focuses first on their plans to reduce economic inequality and lower prices, especially on real estate. The situation is very complicated and I am neither an economist or fortuneteller, so I don’t know how well their plans would work. They do appear to rely on price controls, something that has often been problematic in practice.
Would they do a better job for the average Israeli than the Likud? Not clear. What is clear is that they are appealing to a growing sentiment in Israel that these issues, and not security, are the number one priority. For example,
“He’s talking about something that isn’t relevant—Iran and ISIS,’’ said Avi Biton, owner of a snack bar and a Likud voter in previous elections. “Today my kids don’t have the ability to settle down and buy a house. If they can’t do that, this country has no reason to exist.”
Wow. I would say to Mr. Biton that there are far more important reasons for a Jewish state to exist than his kids’ home ownership. But this is the kind of “Zionist” that votes for the ZU. Iran and ISIS may be irrelevant to him, but his kids will only be able to buy radioactive rubble if the security issues aren’t handled properly.
So how does the ZU propose to deal with the major security challenges (Heb) Israel faces?
Unsurprisingly, it calls for a “two states for two peoples” agreement with the Palestinians, despite the facts that the Palestinians have consistently rejected the idea of “two peoples,” are not interested in a deal that preserves Israel’s security, and are incapable of guaranteeing any deal that they make. But apparently it’s necessary to give obeisance to this concept, especially if you want to stay on the right side of the Obama Administration. In introducing the platform Herzog even suggested that he has a “peace initiative” that he will try to present to the Arab League within the first 100 days.
Iranian nukes? The ZU believes the solution is a “permanent agreement between Iran and the international community that will dismantle its infrastructure, and a tough and effective regime of inspections.” Great, that might work, but it isn’t on offer. The proposed international agreement is already temporary and toothless. But don’t worry — the ZU will “strengthen strategic coordination with the US and Europe.”
I am not impressed, especially when Herzog says “I trust Obama to get a good deal.” As Bibi explained in his speech to Congress — a speech that Herzog thought should not have been given — the deal being made is a very bad one, and there are alternatives. But Herzog would prefer to leave it up to the White House.
Somehow the ZU will ‘rehabilitate’ the relationship with the US that it blames Netanyahu for damaging. Unlike Bibi, Herzog “would rather hold intimate talks and renew the trust that is necessary between the United States and Israel,” ignoring the real cause of the poor relationship, which is that the administration wants to legitimize Iranian nukes and force Israel to evacuate the territories (which would shortly become bases for terrorism).
Sorry ZU, you can’t talk your way out of fundamentally contradictory positions, no matter how intimate you get. It didn’t work with the PLO, and it will not work with Obama.
The ZU security platform is mostly platitudes. But it does point to a serious danger.
One of the main differences between the its stance and that of the Likud is that the ZU will not admit — as Bibi recently made clear — that two-state plans are dead, killed by Hamas, ISIS, Iran and the overall explosion of Islamic extremism in the Middle East.
Combined with the obsequious attitude toward our ‘friends’ in the Obama Administration, this can only result in trouble, as pressure will be put on the Prime Minister to withdraw regardless of the security consequences. Will Herzog be able to resist? He is already beginning from a position of weakness. It is a very bad idea to get on the ‘peace’ train, as Rabin found out, because it’s hard to get off when it goes past your station.
To summarize, the ZU thinks, along with the Avi Bitons of the nation, that security takes second place to consumer satisfaction. It thinks that handing over Judea and Samaria is still a legitimate option. It thinks that the Obama Administration has Israel’s interests at heart and can be trusted. And I’ll add that the Obama Administration has made its preference for the ZU very evident, and may even have supported it financially.
What I would say to the young voters who are among the main targets of the ZU campaign is something like this:
Yes, it is true that there is great economic inequality in Israel, young people can’t afford apartments, and that is tragic. But there are tragedies and there are tragedies, and you aren’t old enough to remember the days immediately before the Six Days War, or the first hours of the Yom Kippur War, when Israelis had to face the real possibility that the nation would be overrun.
Israel is much stronger today, but so are the enemies it faces. It is still small and vulnerable. As much as we would like to relax and put quality of life first, it is still not possible to do that. So while you shouldn’t take the pressure off of the government to bring about reforms that will make life better, the answer is not to elect a government that is weak and naive in the area of security, and beholden to the unfriendly regime in the White House.
Vote for the Likud.
I will vote for the Likud because for me the first question is always our survival, and it seems to me that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the best candidate to help ensure this.
But I think you make light of the domestic economic issues that disturb so many Israelis.
The housing question is a real one and it has not been properly addressed. There are many other economic questions that have not been handled properly.